Protection of calves and steers used in rodeos
Since 2015, Quebec law recognizes that animals are sentient beings that have biological needs. The Animal Welfare and Safety Act (AWSA) prohibits that animal’s welfare and safety be compromised.
The preamble of the AWSA recognizes that “the human species has an individual and collective responsibility to ensure animal welfare and safety”.
It specifically provides that the owner and custodian of an animal must ensure that the animal is not subjected to abuse or mistreatment that may affect its health. The AWSA also prohibits anyone from causing an animal to be in distress, including causing the animal extreme anxiety or suffering.
Summary of the Lawsuit
On May 19, 2022, the Communauté Droit animalier Québec (DAQ), represented by Trudel Johnston & Lespérance, filed an application for an injunction to prohibit tie-down roping of calves and steer wrestling in the Festival Western de St-Tite rodeos.
According to the veterinary expert mandated by DAQ, Dr. Geoffroy Autenne, the calves and steers involved in these activities are systematically exposed to acute pain. He observes that the activities cause calves and steers significant tissue damage in the cervical region, eye damage and respiratory distress. The treatment to which they are subjected violates the legal protection now granted to them by the Quebec legislator.
In a judgment rendered on April 21, 2023, the Honourable Marc Paradis of the Superior Court granted a motion to dismiss filed by the Festival Western de St-Tite, thereby dismissing the injunction application without hearing evidence from the parties. In his ruling, he concluded that the DAQ lacked standing to act in the public interest.
On May 25, 2023, DAQ appealed that decision.
The organization argues that the interpretation suggested by the trial judge on the question of public interest standing runs counter to the test established by the Supreme Court of Canada. In addition, the DAQ questions the trial judge’s conclusion that a “recourse” was underway, since a member’s complaint to MAPAQ had not received a favourable response.
No hearing date has yet been set by the Quebec Court of Appeal.
We are proud to represent the DAQ to enforce these new legal provisions.