The sensitivity of the animal being through the prism of Quebec animal law : John-Nicolas MORELLO

The sensitivity of the animal being in the prism of Quebec animal law: John-Nicolas MORELLO (Lawyer, President and founder of the community “Droit animalier Québec”, Canada)

The international colloquium “Animal sensitivity: legal approaches and transdisciplinary issues”, supported by the MRSH, was organized by Aloïse QUESNE, Associate Professor in private law, under the aegis of the Normandy Chair for Peace, with the support of the Demolombe Institute, Caen la Mer and the University of Caen Normandy. The event was placed under the high patronage of Jean-Paul COSTA, President of the René Cassin Foundation, Honorary State Counselor and former President of the European Court of Human Rights.

This conference, the first of its kind in Normandy, had as its objectives to question the meaning and definition of the notion of animal sentience and to reflect on the implementation of innovative legal mechanisms intended for a better protection of the animal.

John-Nicolas Morello, a lawyer and full-time practitioner for nearly thirty-five years, is president of the non-profit organization Communauté droit animalier Québec – DAQ, which he founded in 2017. Always wishing to combine his skills as a jurist with his actions in favour of animal beings, Mr. Morello seized the opportunity, in 2015, of the unanimous vote in the Quebec National Assembly of the Animal Welfare and Safety Act (AWSA), recognizing the animal [as] a sensitive being with biological imperatives, to bring together specialists from various fields around the advancement of animal ethics and law.

Summary of the communication

The legal conception and ordinary meaning of the term “animal” are the result of historical circumstances. From the founding of Quebec City by Samuel de Champlain over 400 years ago to the passage of the Animal Welfare and Safety Act (AWSA) by the Quebec National Assembly in December 2015, the “animal” has been a mere chattel that could be disposed of until it was completely destroyed.

By recognizing animals as sentient beings, the Civil Code of Québec (C.C.Q.) and the AWSA dissociate them from any notion of “property”. In the following article, we set out the consequences of this important legislative change in Quebec, both in terms of the designation of these beings now recognized as sentient and the protection to which they are now entitled. We also examine the provisions of the Act that allow the majority of animals to be excluded from any meaningful protection. The provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada, which is under federal jurisdiction, are not examined.

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