Category Archives: On the Record

Economy Over Cruelty

My birthday is this month and in lieu of gifts this year, I’ve decided to do a fundraiser on behalf of Mercy for Animals (MFA).  There used to be a branch of MFA in Canada but it was rolled in with the U.S. last year, where MFA’s headquarters are.  Ordinarily I’d prefer to give to an organization specific to the country I reside in but MFA is still a presence in Canada, in much the same way People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is: they do not physically have an office here but they work closely with activists and other organizations who can still represent them.

One of the first things I learned when I went vegan in 2013 was that many animal rights organizations do not issue tax receipts for donations made here in Canada. I didn’t think much of it at the time since I’ve never found charitable receipts to make much difference on my tax return and it’s not the reason I donate anyway. It wasn’t until I tried to find a job working for an animal rights organization in Canada that I discovered this was the case for almost all of them, unless the organization focused strictly on rescuing and caring for animals we don’t wear, eat, hunt or use for some other purpose (e.g., feral cats and stray dogs).  But still I didn’t give it much thought since I understood charitable status –  status that is issued by CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) – as just that: charity. Rescue and relief was one thing, advocacy and prevention was another.  As long as you were only easing suffering and not actively trying to prevent it, you could be a registered as a charity in Canada.  Continue reading

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Linked Oppression

Credit goes to my husband, Julian, for the title of this blog.  Even though he didn’t coin the phrase, he used it when a co-worker made fun of the animal rights t-shirt he wore during Toronto Pride week back in June of this year.  The shirt shows six of the PETA bunnies in a row, each one a different colour that represents the Pride Rainbow. Underneath it says: Rights for All.  When his co-worker “jokingly” said to Julian, “So, you want rights for gay rabbits?”  Julian said to his colleague, a gay man, “No, I want rights for all, just like the shirt says. Linked oppression – you know about those, right?” Julian and his colleague have known each other for years so the ribbing goes on fairly frequently.  But I loved Julian’s response.  Not only because it shut his colleague up but it summed up so much.  As Martin Luther King, Jr., once said (a quote I’ve mentioned before), “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

It is only since becoming a vegan that I have been able to make this connection; I really didn’t see it before.  I think it’s difficult to as an omnivore and I think this blind spot is the same reason that people see animal activists as not caring about humans or human problems.  I now understand that if animals are given personhood and rights under the law, how much better of a chance would women, immigrants, the elderly, children, people with disabilities and other minorities have?  If the lowest of the low – animals – are finally seen and declared as living beings that deserve protection from harm and freedom to live, how then could we not also grant that same recognition to marginalized humans already considered “above” them? Continue reading

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