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Striking down ag gag law a win for transparency and animal rights?

Why should lawmakers and lobbyists continue to spend their energy on misguided ag gag laws that attempt to shield the food industry from scrutiny? Wouldn’t the public be better served by laws that ensure both transparency and oversight of farming?

Published Apr 22, 2024 at 1:09pm

Camille Labchuk
Camille Labchuk
Striking down ag gag law a win for transparency and animal rights?
The Ontario Superior Court building is seen in Toronto on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press)

On April 2, a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice struck down a troubling law passed by Doug Ford’s government that was designed to make it more difficult to detect and expose animal abuse inside factory farms and slaughterhouses.

The so-called “ag gag” law (agricultural gag) was passed in 2020 at the height of the pandemic at the behest of industry lobbyists and Big Meat companies like Maple Leaf Foods. The law made it illegal for a whistleblower or journalist to get a job undercover at an animal farm to expose hidden animal cruelty.

This blatant and disturbing attempt to cover up systemic animal suffering in the food system is unfortunately part of a broader campaign by farm lobbyists to protect animal farmers from embarrassing cruelty videos, with ag gag laws first appearing south of the border. Courts in half a dozen U.S. states have already struck down ag gag laws as unconstitutional, and Animal Justice knew it was vitally important to challenge Ontario’s ag gag law, too.

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