On 3rd April 2024, Justice Markus Koehnen of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Canada stroke down much of Ontario’s agricultural gag law (ag-gag law), which aimed to silence whistleblowers and journalists who work undercover to investigate animal cruelty in the animal agriculture industry. Animal Justice, the freelance journalist Jessica Scott-Reid, and animal advocate Louise Jorgensen of Toronto Cow Save. Were joined applicants in this case.

The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act was passed in 2020. Prior exposés by undercover workers in Ontario have received national media attention and exposed severe and unlawful animal abuse on farms like animals being mutilated, beaten and kicked, and improperly killed. The last undercover investigation in Ontario was released days before the ag-gag law came into effect, and it was conducted by Animal Justice at a factory pig farm, which later pleaded guilty to two animal cruelty offences.

Justice Koehnen ruled that multiple provisions violate the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The provisions that effectively ban undercover work at farms and slaughterhouses were declared of no force and effect. The lawsuit also challenged restrictions on protests outside slaughterhouses where advocates photograph animals inside trucks on their way to be killed, but the Court upheld provisions that restrict interacting with animals inside trucks.

Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, said,  “This groundbreaking ruling is a decisive victory against Ontario’s egregious Ag-Gag law, and sends a clear message that no industry is exempt from scrutiny and accountability. Undercover investigations are a vital tool to show the public the truth about how animals live on farms and die in slaughterhouses. These exposés are critical to holding industries to account for unlawful abuse, and help make the case for stronger laws to outlaw some of the worst forms of mistreatment. We look forward to the opportunity to resume our investigative work to expose and end animal suffering in the food system.”

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.