U of O alum introduces students to “Animals and the Law” in third-year seminar course

This fall the University of Ottawa will introduce its first animal rights course, “Animals and the Law” (CML 3145), under the civil law section.

Justine Perron, who will be co-teaching the course alongside U of O professor Nicholas Jobidon, said that a need for variety drove the development of the course.

“We have an environmental law course, which was a huge step in terms of awareness, and now it is time for an animal rights course as well.”

Perron, a U of O alumna who is preparing to write the Quebec bar exam, was approached by Jobidon to help teach the animal rights portion of his administrative law course because of her involvement in the Animal Protection Association—a club she founded on campus—and her passion for animal rights.

Jobidon’s discussion with Perron made him realize that the civil law section needed a course on the treatment of animals and the legislation surrounding this subject.

Similar courses have already been developed at McGill University and other universities continue to follow suit, as Laval University also approached Perron to help develop a course similar to “Animals and the Law.”

Perron hopes that through this course, students will realize that “what they purchase and consume is also a vote for certain practices to continue.”

“As future lawyers, I also want them to learn that they can make a difference. We have the ability to change the law and enforce it.”

Students in this course are required to write a report on an animal rights issue of their choice and give a presentation. This is designed to give them an understanding of the current legislation around animal rights and practices. The topics range from animal agricultural practices to illegal fur trade practices.

Outside of the course, Perron is pushing for the passing of Bill C-246 through the Animal Protection Association she founded.

The bill, otherwise  known as the Modernizing Animals Protection Act, looks to adjust offences against animals to modern-day issues, such as prohibiting shark finning, modifying requirements on animal fur, and banning imported products that are made in part from cat or dog fur.

Perron notes that “Canadian laws on animal rights are antiquated and we need new ones. We need to appeal to the judges, not only to (make them aware of) the importance of new laws but to focus on enforcement as well.”

With all 12 spaces in the class already filled, Perron hopes that she can help inspire greater interest and awareness in animal rights issues among the U of O student body.

“I believe it was curiosity at first, but through this course they will come to care about this issue.”