Animal Law Review


Rachel De Graaf

Author Details

Rachel De Graaf, L.L.M. candidate, Lewis & Clark Law School

First Page



Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins) became Canadian law in 2019, banning the captivity of cetaceans. This Article critically examines Bill S-203, arguing that it is underpinned by anthropocentric and science-based justifications that will work as exclusionary forces against many animals in need of legal protection. Instead, the Article advocates for an empathetic and multi-jural approach that accounts for human-animal interconnectedness and the unique cultures of animals. This argument is theoretically rooted in vegan ecofeminism’s empathic and non-binaristic perspective. As such, this Article scrutinizes the reasoning behind Bill S-203, asserting that the justifications employed by its proponents are exclusionary. The bill was presented through an anthropocentric lens, focusing on minimizing the captivity of select humanized animals while overlooking other unique animal qualities. Additionally, similar proposed legislation for great apes and elephants would perpetuate these anthropocentric tendencies. An alternative, multi-jural approach to legal reform that rejects anthropocentrism and science-based reasoning can recognize animal-human interconnectedness by leveraging the language of Indigenous legal orders in Canada. Such an approach would acknowledge the distinct norms, lifestyles, and cultures of animals. This Article contributes to existing literature by emphasizing empathy, alterity, and the importance of recognizing the interconnectedness of all life forms. It strives to carve out a space for the legal consideration of the ‘laws’ of other-than-human animals, challenging prevailing anthropocentric paradigms in animal legal protections.

Included in

Animal Law Commons



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