Ontario’s Ag-Gag Bill Written to Protect Farmers Who Skirt Animal Health and Welfare Laws


Advocates for animal welfare are reacting negatively to pending legislation in Ontario that would effectively silence whistleblowers who wish to report animal cruelty and lapses in animal welfare practices.

The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act seeks to limit access to farms, slaughterhouses and transport trucks and would make it a crime to uncover and report any instance of abuse, mistreatment or health code violation. It is effectively an ag-gag bill, similar to several unconstitutional state laws passed in the United States.

“People who witness crimes of cruelty and neglect have a moral obligation to report the matter to the proper authorities,” said Chris DeRose, President & Founder of Last Chance for Animals (LCA). “This bill was designed to benefit those who wish to circumvent Ontario’s animal welfare laws.”

An investigation of a puppy mill in Quebec. These official investigations often rely on tips from whistleblowers. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals.

At present, Ontario animal protection laws rely heavily on the reporting of animal cruelty and neglect to protect the welfare of farm animals, since the Ontario government does not actively monitor the wellbeing or treatment of farm animals. Should this bill be passed into law, it would be illegal for anyone to attend and observe the conditions of animals on farms, in transport trucks or in slaughterhouses without first obtaining advance consent from the farm, slaughterhouse or truck operator.

An extra measure of absurdity found within the bill dictates that any consent that is obtained under false pretenses is deemed invalid. This would mean that employees and investigators would need to give advance notice of their intentions before actually recording any infraction. Additionally, the bill imposes fines on persons who enter a property without consent.

Investigators in Spain shine lights on sows and piglets in gestation crates. Often undercover investigators are the only people keeping track of whether animal welfare guidelines are being followed. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality.

Investigative proof of animal cruelty and health infractions is routinely obtained in an undercover manner. The introduction of this bill illustrates that some members of Canadian Parliament are willing to be complicit in the mistreatment of animals by preventing whistleblowers and journalists from reporting animal cruelty and neglect.

“If this bill is passed, it will allow companies to break the law with impunity while the Canadian Government knowingly looks the other way,” added DeRose. “The bill contradicts the essence of the Canadian Charter, which seeks to thwart moral and financial corruption.”

In response, Last Chance for Animals has launched a grassroots effort focused on Ontario, Canada residents to thwart the bill. LCA’s undercover investigations have exposed multiple incidents of animal cruelty in Ontario.

Featured image: sows in confinement on a factory farm. Pigs like these have very few protections when investigators are unable to access them and witness their conditions. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / Essere Animali.

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Founded in 1984, Last Chance for Animals (LCA) is dedicated to ending animal abuse and exploitation through education, public outreach, investigation and direct action. Click to see author's profile.

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