We need you and so do the animals.
This federal election, it is time for animal advocates to get involved in politics like never before. For the past four years the federal government has continued to oppose legislation that would improve the status and treatment of animals in Canada. No government in the history of Canada has taken animal issues seriously and none will unless we get political. I want the next four years to be a new chapter in Canadian history for animals, people, and the environment and the Animal Protection Party of Canada needs you to help make this happen.
Riding Watch: How I got started and you can too.
2014 was the first time I became active in politics. It was during the municipal election in my home town of Victoria, B.C. that I started asking candidates where they stood on animal issues that affected our community. I went to all candidates meetings and interviewed them on the spot with my camera, so that I could share their answers with the community at large. It was probably the first time they had had someone interview them in this area, so you can imagine that many of the candidates were caught off guard. At the time, even I didn’t realize how important the questions I was asking were to animal issues, but just creating a dialogue and making politicians think about animal issues was holding them accountable for an entirely new political sphere, animal politics.
Now, not everyone may feel comfortable approaching candidates with a camera and asking them questions directly. However, many people are able to put up their hand and ask questions to candidates during debates, town halls, or other community meeting during elections. This is called “riding watch” and it is an important part of the making sure animal voices are heard in politics. Even if you are not a candidate, you can often bring animal issues forward to the candidate, and a room full of people, by simply asking a question during one of these events. This can have a tremendous affect on creating public discourse about these important issues. Remember, in politics especially, if we don’t talk about it, it isn’t an issue.
Why we need animal advocates in politics.
Before the time of the municipal election, I met a very inspirational woman named Liz White. She was in Victoria working with local activists on a campaign opposing a deer cull in Oak Bay and at some point we got to talking about politics and animals. Little did I know she was the leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada and had been running in elections for a decade in Ontario. We talked about the need to expand the party and she made me an offer that would change my life, to be a candidate for the party in the 2015 federal election. It took about a year for this to all come together, but in June 2015 it was confirmed and in August I entered into my first federal election.
There are a lot of details I’m not going to get into here, but I’ll say that running in the federal election was not only the best thing I ever did in my life, but it was also the most important thing I ever did for animals. I had been doing animal activism for a few years at this point, but I never realized how essential politics is to our goals for animals. Politicians are the gatekeepers of all the policy we want to change from animal agriculture and cetacean captivity to animal testing and hunting. As animal activists, we spend most of our time focusing on the individuals, businesses, and corporations that exploit and abuse animals rather than the politicians that have the power to create the change we want. Even worse, a great many politicians are from these very businesses and corporations with little knowledge or interest in animal issues, besides some positive public relations messaging when getting their picture taken with a puppy or kitten. If we want to make a better world for animals, we have to do so as much from the inside of government as the outside. Becoming an animal inclusive political candidate is about bringing an entirely new way of thinking to politics, the public, and animal advocacy.
How you can make a difference
Every political debate I participated in I was able to bring an authentic voice for people, animals, and the environment forward. For example, when I challenged the other candidates on why they said they cared about the environment, but weren’t willing to address animal agriculture as a primary contributor to climate change, none of the other parties had an answer and people noticed. They couldn’t answer because no one had brought it up before, so to them it wasn’t an issue. In 2018, I asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a nationally televised town hall in Nanaimo what he was going to do to better protect animals in the rest of his term, after having killed Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, and opposing others. His response? To paraphrase: Talk to farmers. His response was completely out of touch with the desire of people across Canada for stronger animal protection legislation and changes to how we treat animals in our society.
This is why I am calling on you to join the Animal Protection Party of Canada in making a difference this federal election. We are looking for candidates across Canada, in every village, city, and town to rise up with us and challenge the government directly. You can be a voice for a billion animals killed each year in Canada who have no representation in parliament. It is a chance to challenge yourself and gain a better understanding as an animal advocate of how our system of government works to keep animals oppressed and exploited. You can also make a better world for people and the environment as a whole by explaining to people how these issues overlap. We will be there with you every step of the way to support you in your candidacy and help you navigate the political process.
If you don’t feel ready to be a candidate, but still want to get more involved politically we are looking for riding watch members across the country. You can play an important role in creating discussion around animal issues in your community and holding candidates accountable for their policy decisions.
We need you and the animals need you to step up politically for them this federal election. We invite you to be a part of the revolution of compassionate politics that the world needs today. Together we can imagine a new way forward.
Please contact us here or call us to get involved and we’ll send you an application form.
West Coast Campaign Officer, Animal Protection Party of Canada