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Canadian court strikes down policing powers of Ontario animal-protection officers

Camille Labchuk of Animal Justice Canada said that because animals cannot self-report abuse, investigators need broad search powers, but she applauded the ruling’s emphasis on making animal-protection work transparent.

SEAN FINE: ‘A Canadian judge has struck down the police-like powers of animal-cruelty investigators in Ontario because the agents are not subject to government oversight. Since 1919, investigators for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) have had the authority to act as police officers – entering homes and businesses with a judge’s warrant, and in some situations without one, to investigate animal distress…

Ontario Superior Court Justice Timothy Minnema agreed that the powers granted the OSPCA violate the Canadian Charter of Rights. He called the group “opaque, insular, unaccountable and potentially subject to external influence” through fundraising. “As such, Ontarians cannot be confident that the laws it enforces will be fairly and impartially administered,” he wrote in a 24-page ruling…

The ruling applies directly only in Ontario. Some provinces, such as Manitoba and Quebec, have inspectors subject to government oversight; in Newfoundland and Labrador, police enforce animal-protection laws; and in British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia, SPCA inspectors are subject to the same oversight as peace officers…

Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice Canada, said that because animals cannot self-report abuse, investigators need broad search powers. But the OSPCA has allowed zoo animals to be used at its fundraising events, giving an appearance of a conflict of interest, she said, since the agency is responsible for protecting these animals. She applauded the ruling’s emphasis on making animal-protection work transparent’. SOURCE…

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