Transparency? Or Spin? A Reply to Stephen Archer (Queen’s Department of Medicine)


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.

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Kingston VegFest, a Smashing Success!

One of our members at our table at Kingston VegFest.

One of our members at our table at Kingston VegFest with some of the flyers and posters we’ve been using over the past few years.

Kingston’s inaugural VegFest was a huge success on Saturday. Congratulations to all of the organizers and participants!

QAD’s table was hopping with visitors from 11:00 to 5:00. Some were new to our efforts on behalf of animals at Queen’s; others dropped by just to let us know that they follow our activities via the website and Facebook page and to express appreciation for our work. Thank you to everyone who stopped to chat about their experiences in life science studies, their deep concern for animals confined to labs, and their desire to make a difference.

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Montreal’s breed specific legislation is bad for dogs & bad for humans

Credit: via Wiki Commons

Credit: via Wiki Commons

Josh Milburn, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Philosophy and a member of Queen’s Animal Defence, has just published a piece in the Queen’s Journal about Montreal’s breed specific legislation.


To make matters worse, the stigma that BSL creates around certain breeds ends up attached to safe dogs and responsible owners. On the other hand, irresponsible owners, including those who want to have a dangerous dog, can simply acquire a dog of a different breed.

Once legislatures and the general public, especially children, understand that all dogs – like most animals – can be dangerous if treated inappropriately, we can move towards a society in which dogs and humans can have loving and respectful relationships with one another, with fear of neither attack nor legislation targeting peaceful animals.

Read the entire piece here.

First Kingston VegFest!


The first VegFest in Kingston is coming this weekend, Saturday October 22, 11:00 – 5:00, at St Lawrence College, with talks, demos, vendors, animal protection groups, and food for vegans, vegetarians and the ‘veg curious’!

And of course, Queen’s Animal Defence will have a table there, so come and say hi!

Kingston VegFest Is

  • A celebration of the fabulousness of vegan food. Come enjoy cooking demonstrations, a wide range of food vendors, product samples and other delights. Treat your palate to the best that food has to offer.
  • A celebration of physical and mental health and well-being. Come learn from our experts on nutrition and fitness, ask questions, educate and empower yourself. Find balance in a yoga class. Treat your mind and body to the best that health has to offer.
  • A celebration of connectedness. Come discover a vibrant and mushrooming community of people on plant-fueled journeys. Expand your awareness of the issues and how our choices impact the planet and our fellow animals, featuring prominent local and international guest speakers. Treat your heart to the best that connectedness has to offer.

See the website and the Facebook page for more info.

And Two Documentaries

Do not forget as well:

  • Friday October 21, doors open 6:30 pm (for 7:00), The Ghosts in Our Machine screening on Queen’s campus, Mac-Corry B201
  • Sunday October 23, 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm, Unlocking the Cage at the Screening Room on Princess Street (fundraiser for Fauna Sanctuary)