Lawyer speaks for an­i­mals

Labchuk fights for hu­mane treat­ment of all an­i­mals

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY MITCH MACDONALD

“It was the first time we in­ter­vened on a case at any level of court. Be­cause it’s at the Supreme Court, that’s huge for us.” Camille Labchuk, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, An­i­mal Jus­tice

En­sur­ing that an­i­mals have their voices heard in court has al­ways been Camille Labchuk’s life’s mis­sion.

Fight­ing for the hu­mane treat­ment of an­i­mals is a pas­sion for the for­mer P.E.I. res­i­dent and Toronto-based lawyer, who is now liv­ing in Cam­bridge, Mass.

As an an­i­mal rights lawyer and ad­vo­cate, she rep­re­sents clients from seals, horses and all forms of com­mer­cial wildlife and house­hold pets.

Labchuk, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the not-for-profit group, An­i­mal Jus­tice, gave an­i­mals that right to be heard dur­ing a his­toric case in Canada’s Supreme Court re­cently.

In Novem­ber, Labchuk and Univer­sity of Alberta law pro­fes­sor Peter Sankoff, ap­peared in court on be­half of the Cana­dian char­ity in a land­mark case re­gard­ing bes­tial­ity.

Labchuk said the Crown’s ap­peal is a ground-break­ing case that es­sen­tially de­cides whether all sex acts with an­i­mals should be con­sid­ered bes­tial­ity.

“Which is hor­ri­ble and un­for­tu­nate to con­tem­plate, but it hap­pened to make its way up to the Supreme Court,” said Labchuk, dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view with The Guardian.

The ap­peal marks the first time in Cana­dian history that the Supreme Court has con­sid­ered leg­is­la­tion re­lated to pro­tect­ing the le­gal rights of an­i­mals.

The case stems from an ap­peal from a de­ci­sion by the B.C. Court of Ap­peal that ac­quit­ted a man on a charge of bes­tial­ity.

In an ear­lier in­ter­view with the Na­tional Post Labchuk said, “with­out our in­ter­ven­tion the court might not hear why pro­tect­ing an­i­mals is a crit­i­cal ob­jec­tive of Cana­dian law.”

Labchuk called the case “novel” and said she be­lieves it’s the first time the Supreme Court of Canada will con­sider leg­is­la­tion pro­tect­ing an­i­mals from harm.

“The con­se­quences are pretty far reach­ing,” she said.

“If they re­ject the ap­peal, it will es­sen­tially le­gal­ize forms of sex­ual abuse of an­i­mals across the coun­try.”

While she is still wait­ing for the out­come of the case, Labchuk said she al­ready con­sid­ers it a vic­tory by en­sur­ing that the per­spec­tive of an­i­mals will be pre­sented in court.

It was also a per­sonal vic­tory for Labchuk and the Ot­tawabased group.

“It was the first time we in­ter­vened on a case at any level of court,” she said. “Be­cause it’s at the Supreme Court, that’s huge for us.”

While this case was a first for the group, it has been ac­tive in other ad­vo­cacy ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing an of­fi­cial com­plaint into the Canada Goose jacket com­pany ques­tion­ing its claims of hu­mane trap­ping for its prod­ucts.

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