‘Humanely’ Trapped, yet Legally Endangered: Anthropocentrism and the Coyotes used in Canada Goose Jackets

May 15, 2017

Founded in Toronto, the winter apparel company Canada Goose has grown in popularity since its expansion into the international market in 2013. Yet its growth has not been without much controversy, as the increase in the popularity of their jackets has given rise to an anti-Canada Goose movement in the West (Stevens, 2015; Harris, 2016).

 

One of the main concerns with the Canada Goose jackets have been the coyote fur used to line jacket hoods. While the company has claimed that real fur helps to better protect faces from frostbite and extreme cold temperatures than synthetic fur, animal activists such as Animal Justice adamantly disagree. The animal rights organization argues that the winter jacket manufacturer continues to engage in false and misleading advertising related to the welfare of animals trapped for their fur (Animal Justice, 2015). Furthermore, Animal Justice objects to the synthetic fur claim, retorting that there is no such evidence to validate that real fur provides greater protection, and argues that in fact synthetic fur and other materials are regarded as highly warm and functional for winter jacket lining without the cause for animal mistreatment (Animal Justice, 2015; The Canadian Press, 2015).

 

According to Camille Labchuk, director of legal advocacy for Animal Justice, Canada Goose’s claims of ethical and ‘humane’ trapping fly in the face of federal animal cruelty legislation, as it is well-documented that “the fur trade engages in practices that most consumers do not consider humane,” including the use of traps that cause the coyotes significant injury and suffering (Animal Justice, 2015). The leg hold traps, which are designed to hold but not kill the animals, have a plethora of issues: the serious injuries animals obtain from being held within the trap (severe bleeding, fractures, spinal cord injuries, etc.); the lack of traps checked by hunters, leaving animals to suffer from thirst, hunger, exposure to the elements and to other predators; the non-discriminatory nature of the trap, meaning that on occasion endangered species can be caught in them; and the inconsistency of cruelty provisions across provinces—in other words, there is no requirements in some provinces to check traps, meaning that animals injured but not killed can suffer indefinitely (Animal Justice, 2015). Therefore, by claiming that fur trim on the jackets are an outcome of ‘humane’ animal treatment, Labchuk argues that “Canada Goose is preying on ethically-conscious consumers” (Animal Justice, 2015).

 

Safeguarding animals has become a ripe topic that has risen to the public’s interest in recent years. Particularly in Western, liberal democracies, discussions of animal protections, welfare and sentience have become more prominent. However, critical scholars note that animal protection law falls short when it comes to animal welfare, and that anthropocentric logics dominate legal discourse (Gacek, forthcoming; Gacek & Jochelson, 2017, forthcoming; Jochelson & Gacek, forthcoming).

 

Any consideration of the coyotes in the fur trim of the clothing company’s jackets calls into question the animal cruelty laws Canada has in place, and whether such laws would be appropriate to safeguard these animals from unreasonable harm, injury and stress. As I have mentioned in a prior blog post, our current federal anti-cruelty laws in Canada are “antiquated and narrow” (Pask, 2015), and while other countries may consider Canada as one of the more social progressive and socially conscious countries, legal safeguards and protections for animals are qualified at best. Even official transcripts of Canadian parliamentary debates ultimately shed light on the Canadian government’s failure to bring its 19th century animal cruelty criminal laws into the 21st century (Verbora, 2015). In fact, animals in Canada are arguably less safe than in developing countries like Ukraine or in the Philippines, both of which have stronger legislation in place to protect animals (Sorenson, 2010; Verbora, 2015).

 

In effect, while countries such as Great Britain and New Zealand have taken measures to update or enact effective animal cruelty legislation, Canada’s anti-cruelty laws (introduced in 1892 with little to no actual amendments) ensure that even today, Canada “is no safe haven for animals” (Sankoff, 2012, p. 294).

 

Socio-legal scholarship generally could greatly benefit from moving into new lines of inquiry that emphasize “more-than-human legalities” (Braverman, 2015, p. 1). Such inquiry has the power to promote species justice and the advocacy-oriented scholarship of animals’ rights. This can also highlight the reciprocal nature between humans and animals and center upon the social construction of our ongoing relationship, a relationship which should not be construed as a natural or biological constant (Sorenson, 2010).

 

How humanness and animality become deeply imbedded in the construction of law and society goes hand in glove with how the law is acutely relevant for constituting the animal. Legal safeguards and protections should be revised, amended and extended to non-human animals being utilized for anthropocentric ends and desires.

 

 

References:

Animal Justice (2015). “Animal Justice Files False Advertising Complaint Against Canada Goose.” Animal Justice: March 11. Online: http://www.animaljustice.ca/media-releases/animal-justice-files-false-advertising-complaint-canada-goose/.

 

Braverman, I. (2015). “More-than-Human Legalities.” In Patricia Ewick and Austin Sarat (eds.),The Wiley Handbook of Law and Society (Wiley Press), pp. 307-321.

 

Gacek, J. (Forthcoming). ‘Species Justice’ for Police Eagles: Critiquing the Dutch ‘Flying Squad’ and Animal-Human Relations. Accepted in Contemporary Justice Review: Issues in Criminal, Social, and Restorative Justice.

 

Gacek, J. & Jochelson, R. (Forthcoming). ‘Animal Justice’ and Sexual (Ab)use: Consideration of Legal Recognition of Sentience for Animals in Canada. Accepted in Manitoba Law Journal.

 

Jochelson, R. & Gacek, J. (Forthcoming). ‘Ruff’ Justice: Canine Cases and Judicial Law Making as an Instrument of Change. Accepted in Animal Law Review 24(1).

 

Gacek, J. & Jochelson, R. (2017). Placing ‘Bestial’ Acts in Canada: Legal Meanings of ‘Bestiality’ and Judicial Engagements with Sociality. Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research, 6, pp. 236-261.

 

Harris, S. (2016). “Canada Goose faces wrath of animal rights activists as it opens more stores.” CBC News: November 17. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-goose-peta-anti-fur-animal-rights-1.3850411.

 

Jochelson, R. & Gacek, J. (Forthcoming). ‘Ruff’ Justice: Canine Cases and Judicial Law Making as an Instrument of Change. Accepted in Animal Law Review 24(1).

 

Pask, J. (2015). “Detailed Discussion of Canada’s Anti-Cruelty Laws.” Animal Legal & Historical Center: Michigan State University College of Law. Online: https://www.animallaw.info/article/detailed-discussion-canadas-anti-cruelty-laws.

 

Sankoff, P. (2012) The Animal Rights Debate and the Expansion of Public Discourse: Is it Possible for the Law Protecting Animals to Simultaneously Fail and Succeed? Animal Law, 18, pp. 281-320.

 

Sorenson, J. (2010). About Canada: Animal Rights. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.

 

Stevens, C. (2015). “Animal rights group files complaint against Canada Goose.” Global News: March 13. Available at: http://globalnews.ca/news/1882396/animal-rights-group-files-complaint-against-canada-goose/.

 

The Canadian Press. (2015). “Canada Goose accused of ‘misleading’ ads by animal rights group.” CBC News: March 17. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-goose-accused-of-misleading-ads-by-animal-rights-group-1.2998610.

 

Verbora, A.R. (2015). The Political Landscape Surrounding Anti-Cruelty Legislation in Canada. Society & Animals, 23, pp. 45-67.

 

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