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TRU law professor to give talk on agricultural gag laws

Professor to talk animal law

A Thompson Rivers University law professor says Canada has some of the worst animal protection laws in the world, something she hopes to bring attention to through a public lecture at the university.

Animal law expert Katie Sykes said she will be hosting a lecture to discuss agricultural gag laws, which she said criminalize undercover reporting of farm animal treatment.

“The reason that those type of laws have been called ag gag is that they’re based on the perception that they’re aimed at sort of clamping down on things that the animal rights movement does to bring attention to what's happening to animals,” Sykes said.

Sykes said her lecture will detail the history and evolution of these laws, various tactics used by animal rights movements in response and laws that have responded to these tactics. She said she’ll also discuss whether the laws violate Charter rights.

She said the first agricultural gag law introduced in Canada was in Alberta in 2019. She said the laws originated in the U.S. in the 1990s.

“There was a bill in B.C. about three years ago, I think, and then it didn't pass and, as far as I know, there hasn't been another one introduced. But it could happen,” Sykes said.

She said she thinks most Canadians don’t known that animal protection laws are “incredibly weak,” and she hopes her lecture will shed light on how laws are used to keep this concealed.

“When there are these efforts, like undercover investigations and strategies that bring public attention or shed light on how the animals are treated, that is sort of a corrective to the fact that these laws are so weak,” Sykes said.

“I see the Ag Gag laws as kind of like a reaction to the fact that activists have undermined that story and revealed to people that there's a lack of protection.”

The lecture will be held at Scratch Café in the Culinary Arts Centre on TRU’s campus on Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.



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