For several years now, animal suffering has led to the emergence of multidisciplinary reflection on the animal condition. Trapped within the rigid structure of civil law, which does not recognize animals as persons, animals were treated as chattel goods that are subject to abuse. Facing the inadequacy of the model which continued to maintain the "machine-animal" theory – an ethological hypothesis that emerged from classical theories of the mechanistic movement, which postulated that animals do not suffer any more than they think (Descartes) – the time had finally come to take action. This is what the provincial government undertook in 2015 at then Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Pierre Paradis’ initiative. Driven by the evolution of their collective representation, animals now take on a legal standing which reflects their real nature: beings that have feelings and biological needs.
However, such recognition is not sufficient. In both Quebec and Canada, the protection of animals against unnecessary suffering is all too often inadequate. Such a framework is limited mainly to biomedical experimentation, factory farming, and even trapping, which form a continuum of practices that are rarely challenged, because they appear to be indispensable to the survival and the culture of humankind. Such practices, based on the argument of necessity, make it difficult to propose legal rules designed to protect animals from unnecessary suffering. This fact creates a legal space where the State tolerates some acts of cruelty, where pain and suffering are inflicted on animals as part of a legitimate activity. Whenever "it is of economic interest, there is no limit to the use or improper treatment of animals" (Francione).
Now more than ever, it is time to seriously examine the question of animal suffering and, more importantly, to react to it. This is the catalyst motivating Me Martine Lachance – retired law professor – to continue her research activity within the International Research Group in Animal Law (GRIDA) which she founded in 2007.
The International Research Group in Animal Law (GRIDA) was established in January 2007 as a research unit within the Department of Juridical Sciences at the University of Quebec at Montréal (UQAM). Founded by professor Martine Lachance, GRIDA’s mission is to create research opportunities in animal law. Although virtually ignored among Canadian researchers, this is a field of great interest in other countries, including the United States.
GRIDA’s goal is to define a modern, legal approach to issues of animal security and welfare that combines its purpose and the appropriate juridical instruments To that end, it is crucial to begin by emphasizing how important it is for human beings to cultivate their moral imagination in order to consider animal species with goodwill and equity. In our society, where animals are primarily deemed objects of consumption, the development of a policy for their protection, as well as its integration into the collective social perspective, has become a necessity.
GRIDA’s objectives are:
Martine Lachance, Retired Professor of Law, University of Quebec in Montréal (UQAM)
Thierry Auffret Van Der Kemp, Jean-Marie Coulon, Pr. Jean-Claude Nouët : La Fondation droit animal, éthique et sciences (LFDA)
Pr. Éric Baratay : Faculté des Lettres et Civilisations, Université Jean Moulin (Lyon 3)