Animals & Section 7: How Early Charter Jurisprudence Supports Protections for Animals
In Canadian law, animals hold an interesting legal status. On a metaphorical spectrum from property to personhood, some consider animals to be (1) pure property, (2) somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, or (3) a little bit of both property and person. The leap to full personhood is regarded as highly aspirational and not realistically viable at the present time. Despite this, advocates continue to develop novel legal arguments which shift animals closer to achieving full legal personhood, and the benefits which stem therefrom.
This paper adds a novel – and admittedly highly aspirational – approach to animal personhood: entitlement to protections under s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Early Supreme Court jurisprudence defining ‘everyone’ within section 7 is explored. Although the conclusion of the Court states that only humans are deserving of s. 7 protections, the ratio behind that conclusion suggests that nonhuman animals may also be deserving of the right to life, liberty, and security of the person.