TORONTO—National animal law organization Animal Justice will intervene tomorrow in an appeal of the legal challenge that struck down the Ontario SPCA’s enforcement authority.
In Bogaerts v. Attorney General of Ontario 2019 ONSC 41, Justice Minnema of the Superior Court of Justice declared that it is unconstitutional for the Ontario SPCA—as a private charity not subject to reasonable oversight measures—to enforce public animal protection laws. The decision recognized a new principle of fundamental justice, declaring that under section 7 the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is unconstitutional for the province to assign police and other investigative powers to a law enforcement agency not subject to reasonable standards of transparency and accountability.
Ontario is appealing the decision. The Ontario Court of Appeal will hear the case, including the following issues:
- whether granting police powers to a private charity violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms without transparency, oversight, and accountability measures;
- whether search and seizure powers used to protect animals and investigate animal welfare offences are too broad and violate the Charter; and
- whether provincial animal protection offences are truly criminal in nature and fall outside provincial jurisdiction, thus unconstitutionally intruding on the federal criminal law power.
Animal Justice intervened in the case previously, and its arguments were largely adopted. Animal Justice will make further arguments before the Ontario Court of Appeal to help ensure animals benefit from transparency, oversight, and accountability in animal law enforcement. Other interveners include the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Railway Association of Canada, and the Attorney General of Canada.
The case will be heard tomorrow, Tuesday, October 1, at 10 am in the Ontario Court of Appeal, Osgoode Hall, Toronto. Animal Justice is represented by lawyers Arden Beddoes of Arvay Finlay LLP, and Benjamin Oliphant of Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP.