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‘Free Willy’ law spotlights contradictions in how Canadians see animal rights

What Bill S-203 does not address are the interests of the hundreds of millions of other sentient animals, approximately 800 million per year in Canada, and growing, captive on industrial farms for the purpose of producing food.

JODI LAZARE: ‘Canada’s lawmakers recently adopted the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act — dubbed the “Free Willy” bill, named after the 1993 hit movie. Bill S-203 prohibits keeping, breeding and importing marine mammals from the cetacean family (including whales, dolphins and porpoises) for entertainment or for any other reason besides rescue and rehabilitation… Protecting marine mammals is important and Canada has made itself a leader through the passage of Bill S-203. With Bill S-203, Canada becomes the first North American country to ban both displaying for entertainment and importing or exporting…

What Bill S-203 does not address are the interests of the hundreds of millions of other sentient animals — approximately 800 million per year in Canada, and growing — captive on industrial farms for the purpose of producing food… With respect to the welfare of farmed animals, Canada lags far behind comparable jurisdictions like Australia, New Zealand and the European Union. Compare this situation with the stiff maximum penalty of up to $200,000 for now bringing whales or dolphins into captivity and the contradiction becomes stark…

In following the evolution of Bill S-203, I found myself wondering what the world might look like if similar arguments were used to ground reform to the practices related to animals in agriculture — animals that are similarly sentient, intelligent and social. Hens, for example, can anticipate the future and demonstrate self-control, according to research at the University of London. On Canadian farms, however, egg-producing hens continue to be housed in cramped battery cages, where they cannot spread their wings or engage in natural behaviours.

Research suggests that pigs are fast learners with good memories and complex social structures. And yet, it is common knowledge that pregnant sows on industrial farms are confined in barren metal crates, where they are unable to turn around, for weeks or even months at a time. Canada should be applauded for freeing Willy from captivity. But the true celebrations should be reserved for when Canadians, as a progressive and compassionate society, decide it’s time to free Babe’. SOURCE…

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