Animal Law Review

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This Article uses the theory of deliberative democracy, as developed by Jürgen Habermas and others, to suggest that public discourse is essential to encouraging democratic change in animal welfare law. The author examines the legal regimes of Canada and New Zealand to determine which country better facilitates a public dialogue about the treatment of animals. The Article concludes that, while Canada has a number of laws that ostensibly protect animals, New Zealand’s regime is much better at creating the public discourse required to meaningfully advance animal protection. The author does not suggest that New Zealand’s regime is perfect; rather, New Zealand’s model is preferable to Canada’s because it allows the public to meaningfully engage in laws affecting animals at regular intervals. In Canada, generating discussion in government about animal welfare is too often left to the whim of legislators. Due to New Zealand’s model of encouraging and requiring public discourse, its protection laws have begun to surpass those of Canada, and there is reason to believe this will continue. Encouraging public discourse about our assumptions about animals fosters hope for meaningful progress in their lives.

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