"Air Canada may be legally OK not to ship monkeys"

Animal protection groups renewed calls for Air Canada to stop transporting monkeys destined for research labs.

The Humane Society International/Canada and the Animal Alliance of Canada urged the airline Tuesday to cease shipping animals for research, toxicity testing and other laboratory experiments.

In January, international animal protection organizations said Air Canada flew 48 monkeys from breeding farms in China to Quebec as cargo in wooden crates.

In a 1998 ruling, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ruled in favour of a shipper and against Air Canada when it attempted to refuse live cargo because it was headed to a laboratory.

Now the groups say a legal opinion from Lawyers for Animal Welfare concluded Air Canada is within its rights to reinstate its former policy by changing the wording of its cargo tariff.

“Air Canada has previously refused to ship animals for this purpose, and given the conclusions of our legal analysis and the suffering of the animals involved, we urge the airline to take immediate action to reinstate this policy,” Liz White, director of Animal Alliance, said in a statement.

The groups said they submitted a copy of the legal opinion to Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu on July 8 requesting a response within 30 days but added they have not received an answer.

Air Canada spokesperson Peter.Fitzpatrick said the airline has no comment to offer on the unsolicited legal opinion.

“While the CTA now says we can change our tariff, you should note that in their ruling the CTA said explicitly that they do not believe that the carriage of monkeys causes annoyance to passengers (which is what determines whether we can discriminate against shippers) and the same test would be applied should we attempt to amend our tariffs,” Fitzpatrick said in an email.

“There is nothing to make us believe the CTA would suddenly have a different opinion.”

Air Canada is one of a small group of companies that still ships animals for research, according to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a British-based animal protection organization.

Major carriers that do not ship primates for research include British Airways, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas Airways, Delta Airlines and China Airlines, according to the British group’s website.

See the full story at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/08/09/monkeys-air-canada-research.html