Camille Labchuk, still in her early 30s, but an environmental and animal rights activist for over 20 years. In 2014 she opened Canada’s first animal-rights law practice. She’s now the Executive Director of Animal Justice, a not-for-profit dedicated to the humane treatment of animals.
Camille Labchuk has her own animal law practice, in fact the only one of its kind in Canada. In this exclusive Green Interview, she speaks with Silver Donald Cameron about defending animal rights and the group she heads up, Animal Justice, a national organization focused on animal law, including law reform, litigation, investigations, and education.
Passion for Animal Welfare
At the age of nine, Labchuk witnessed the seal hunt on television and became interested in animal rights. Her mother was a significant influence on her interest in environmentalism, and helped her pursue her goals in animal activism. “My mom was a single mother and an environmental activist. She single-handedly took on the pesticide industry in PEI. She was very active when I was growing up and I had a role model from a very young age that taught me a woman can do whatever she wants and can accomplish a lot,” she has been quoted saying. In 2006, after graduating with a psychology degree from Mount Allison University, Labchuk worked for two years as press secretary for Elizabeth May, the new leader of the Green Party of Canada. Labchuk’s long held passion for animals led her to pursue a law degree and in 2014 she started her own solo animal law practice.
Animal Justice is a not for profit legislative fund based in Toronto that works on behalf of animals in Canada. Its lawyers work to pass new animal protection legislation, push for the prosecution of animal abusers, and fight for animals in court. One of its most notable cases was one that involved bestiality. In 2015, Labchuk and other lawyers at Animal Justice went to the Supreme Court to intervene in a law about bestiality. Labchuk was quoted in the media saying,“It was a defence to water down the definition of bestiality to allow sexual acts that were non-penetrative in nature.” The court awarded Labchuk’s group intervenor’s status and they were able to argue the case on behalf of animals. “That was momentous and exciting,” she says.