“But thousands of animals still live out their lives in barren cages in the windowless basement of Botterell Hall, subject to horrific procedures in the name of science, deprived of all that makes life worthwhile, and hidden from public view by a high security apparatus.”
Animal Liberation Currents just released QAD’s profile on their website, highlighting the history of animal activism at Queen’s University and the current work Queen’s Animal Defence is doing.
For 3 years, faculty and students have challenged vivisection at a major biomedical research institution in Ontario. Their struggles highlight the challenges in activism for animals on campus and the greater politics of animal research.
Read the entire piece here.
Screenshots of the incident.
Over the Homecoming weekend, a Queen’s student was kicked to the ground by a Kingston police horse named Murney, after the student slapped Murney’s hip. A video that captured the incident has since gone viral, as major news networks picked up the story and generated significant public discussions.
However, missing from these discussions is an important issue underlying the physical assault of a police horse: a deep-seated disrespect that humanity as a whole has shown to the fellow animals with whom we share this world.
To make sense of this, we need to first consider the criminal charge the student faces for slapping the horse, which reveals disturbing inconsistencies in the way our laws protect different animals in Canada.
In July 2015, the Harper government amended the Criminal Code and enacted the Justice for Animals in Service Act (better known as “Quanto’s Law”), after an Edmonton police dog named Quanto was stabbed to death by a fleeing suspect in 2013. The aim of the law was to offer police, military and other service animals greater protection from violent attacks, above the lamentably low standard of protection provided by the broader animal cruelty laws. And Quanto’s penalties are rather hefty, anywhere between fines of up to $10,000, to a minimum of six months and maximum of five years in prison.
While Quanto’s Law was swiftly passed in a year, another proposed bill that also sought to improve protections for animals was not so well-received. Bill C-246 (Modernizing Animal Protections Act) was defeated in Parliament on October 5, 2016 at second reading.
Josh Milburn (Postdoctoral Fellow in Animal Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Queen’s University) will be presenting a talk on “Confronting carnivory: The ethics and politics of animals eating animals” at the Philosophy colloquium on Thursday, Nov. 3rd at 4:00 pm (Watson Hall, room 521).
Questions about the diets of nonhuman animals have been almost entirely absent from both animal ethics and the philosophy of food. Nonetheless, they raise a range of distinctive normative problems of both theoretical and practical significance. One of the most pressing issues concerns feeding meat to our companions, especially those, like cats, who are carnivorous. Companion diets – especially carnivore diets – must be analysed separately from human diets; indeed, depending on the arguments used to defend the consumption of animal products, even committed meat-eaters may have reasons to worry about feeding meat to companions. In this paper, I will first diagnose what I call the problem of carnivory and then canvass a range of possible solutions. Both the status quo and the possibility of somehow ending our relationships with carnivores are deeply undesirable, but the best alternative depends on whether carnivory is framed as a moral problem or a political problem. Guardians today, if unable to feed their companion a vegan diet, could scavenge meat or rely on the eggs of rescued chickens, and non- or plausibly-sentient animals could provide an ethically-justifiable source of meat. As societies, we can seek more permanent solutions through research, including research to develop vegan diets appropriate for particular carnivores and research to develop lab-grown meat.
In March 2015 QAD sponsored a special “What is Queen’s Hiding?” event for Freedom of Information Day, calling on Queen’s to release information about the numbers and types of animals used in research at Queen’s, and the nature of the experiments conducted on them. The University continues to refuse to release this information. However, the University Veterinarian was prompted to organize a workshop of research administrators from across Canada, as well as PR experts from Oxford University and other institutions that have faced scrutiny and criticism concerning their practices and governance around animal research. After attending this workshop, Dr. Stephen Archer (Head, Department of Medicine) wrote a blog discussing the calls from QAD and other groups for greater transparency, and the lessons he learned from the workshop on how to respond to such requests. While the blog represents Dr. Archer’s personal views, not official University policy, we believe it is representative of a more general mindset amongst research administrators, and hence is worthy of careful analysis.
Although intended as a defense of the University’s system of governing animal research, Dr. Archer’s blog is in fact a testament to its inadequacies. This response will focus on four general areas of concern: claims regarding transparency, research ethics, scientific rigour, and governance.
Dr. Archer says that his “blog attempts to provide some transparency around the use of animals in research requested by animal rights groups, including a local organization, Queen’s Animal Defence.” The information QAD has requested includes: How many animals, of which species, does Queen’s use for research and education purposes each year? (This would include not just animals used in actual procedures, but animals used in breeding facilities; animals used to train researchers in killing techniques; animals killed because they are surplus, or the wrong size, and so on.) The information requested also includes general descriptions of the kinds of research being conducted on animals – not proprietary information that risks academic freedom – but general information that would allow the public to understand the broad nature and purposes of the research being conducted. Year by year statistics would also allow the public to see if Queen’s is in any way meeting its commitments to reduce and replace the use of animals in research. Dr. Archer’s blog offers no information, or “transparency” of this kind.