The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Montreal is launching a campaign on Tuesday to demand the implementation of more legal protections to regulate the welfare of farm animals.

The SPCA invites the population to sign a manifesto, which has already received the support of some thirty public figures, including director Xavier Dolan, singer-songwriter Stéphanie Boulay, lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, singer Paul Piché, host and actress Marina Orsini, comedian Jean-François Mercier and cardiologist Martin Juneau.

The text, launched as part of the provincial campaign “It is not because they are going to die that they do not deserve to be protected”, is published today in the Debates section of La Presse.

“We have an agricultural lobby that is very powerful in Quebec, that’s why we’re asking the public to come forward,” explains Me Sophie Gaillard, acting director general of the Montreal SPCA and director of the defense of animals and legal affairs of the organization. “We know that the population is behind us, but it seems that it is blocking at the government level,” she added.

The SPCA commissioned a survey from the firm Léger last March. The survey, conducted among 1,062 respondents, indicates that 92% of them agree that a law or regulation should govern how animals intended for consumption can be treated on farms in Quebec.

In Quebec, the Animal Welfare Act was passed in 2015. It recognizes that animals have feelings. Previously, animals were considered “movable property”.

The Montreal SPCA regrets that farmed animals intended for food are excluded from the “main protections” offered by this law. Mr. Gaillard describes the situation as a “two-tier system” for pets and farm animals.

She cites as an example the fact that piglets can be castrated without anesthesia, whereas the same gesture towards a cat or a dog would be liable to a sanction that could go as far as imprisonment.

“The castration of calves and lambs, as well as the docking of the tails of lambs and the partial amputation of the beaks of laying hens: all these practices are done without analgesia or anesthesia, while the Canadian Medical Association veterinarians consider these practices painful, which should be subject to adequate pain control, including anesthesia,” she said.

In Canada, animal welfare standards are governed by codes of practice that are developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council. The fact that players in the agri-food industry sit alongside government representatives to develop them is problematic, in the eyes of the Montreal SPCA.

“They do not have the force of law in Quebec, they are not mandatory,” she says.