PANEL: Bridging Animal Welfare and Animal Rights: Creating Common Ground and Finding Solutions to Root Problems

MONDAY, APRIL 10, 8:30-10:00AM

MODERATOR: Barbara Cartwright, CEO, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS)

Darren Chang, Queen's Animal Defence, Master’s Student at Queen's University
Camille Labchuk, Executive Director, Animal Justice
Geoff Urton, General Manager, Strategy and Innovation, British Columbia SPCA
Jackie Wepruk, General Manager, National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)

Animal welfare and animal rights are two oft cited philosophies that inform worldviews on human relationships and interactions with non-human animals. They can also be politically charged terms used to polarize the movement whether from opposition sectors or from within our own community. A quick google search of “animal welfare animal rights” demonstrates that the two concepts are often presented in opposition – as in one VERSUS the other. But what if we reframe it as a spectrum not an either/or proposition? What if diversity makes us stronger and being a movement “divided” is slowing down the results we seek to achieve for animals?
Despite some different beliefs that could arguably be a challenge to reconcile between those that ascribe to animal welfare philosophies and those who ascribe to animal right philosophies (e.g. beliefs about the social, political and legal status of nonhuman animals), this plenary explores the basic philosophies, how different organizations apply the principles and how advocates from across the spectrum can still collaborate substantially. Collaboration entails that we first understand the philosophies we are less familiar with and explore the potential for shared common ground on root problems we each seek to address. Each of our panelists will take 15 mins to present on their philosophy and how that impacts their approach to animal advocacy, what they see as the limitations and effectiveness of that approach and areas for collaboration.

Three Key Learnings:
1. The concept of animal rights: What are rights, and what are their limitations and potentials as a tool for animal advocacy
2. The concept of welfare: What is welfare, and what is limitations and potentials as a tool for animal advocacy
3. Examples of root causes of problems animals face and how both a rights framework and welfare framework might be applied successfully - and how animal advocates can work together to effect change despite different philosophical beliefs


Darren Chang
 is a Master's student at Queen's University studying political philosophy, and is an active participant in the Animals in Philosophy, Politics, Law and Ethics (APPLE) program at Queen's, as well as the animal advocacy group Queen's Animal Defense. From 2012-14, Darren worked as a research assistant at the UBC Animal Welfare Program and has volunteered with various animal rights/liberation groups since 2011.

Camille Labchuk is an animal rights lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice—Canada’s only animal law advocacy organization. Animal Justice works to promote tough new animal protection legislation, enforce laws already on the books, and fights legal cases in courtrooms. Camille’s work includes defending the rights of animal advocates; intervening in court cases to protect and enhance animals’ legal interests; filing false advertising complaints against companies making misleading humane claims, including jacket company Canada Goose; documenting Canada’s commercial seal slaughter; exposing hidden suffering on farms through undercover investigations; and combatting trophy hunting, circuses, zoos, aquariums, shark finning, puppy mills, and more. Camille is a frequent lecturer on animal law, a regular contributor to publications like the Globe and Mail, iPolitics, and Huffington Post, and her work has been featured in countless media stories. Camille is a 2012 graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Before law school, Camille managed communications for Humane Society International/Canada, and served as press secretary to Elizabeth May, leader of Canada’s Green Party.

In every aspect of his life, Geoff Urton is committed to drawing out the best from others. It is through this ethos and a no bullsh*t approach to seeking common ground, that he has facilitated agreement between diverse stakeholders at the community and international levels. Geoff has applied his background in Animal Welfare Science (UBC) and Dialogue and Negotiation (SFU) to create an innovative and evidence-based public policy approach that has altered the animal welfare landscape in Canada. At the BC SPCA, he is honoured to have led a team of professionals with diverse backgrounds to the forefront of the animal welfare movement. His team has driven numerous landmark policy reforms, including phase-outs of barren cages for hens and gestation stalls for pigs, and regulations for BC’s dog and cat breeding industry. At home, Geoff can be found telling completely made-up tales of heroism to his generous wife, Lise, and their two boys – or being walked by their determined tripod pup, Finn.

Jackie Wepruk has a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in psychology, from the University of Winnipeg, and a Master of Environmental Design from the University of Calgary. Upon completing her master’s degree, Jackie was involved in a variety of farm animal welfare contracts with the Alberta Farm Animal Care Association (AFAC) and other farm organizations. She participated in efforts that led to the creation of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) in 2005 and is the general manager of the organization. In this capacity she facilitates a partnership between farmed animal industries, governments, the veterinary community, the humane movement and other allied groups to advance farm animal welfare in Canada. A variety of experiences have informed her perspectives and passions relative to animal welfare including three years working at an animal shelter, involvement in breed rescue with Siberian Huskies and participating in the Code Development Committee that created the sled dog standard of care in British Columbia.