Activists keep pressing Liberals to ban live horse exports for slaughter

Animal rights advocates are continuing to push for the ban of live horse exports for slaughter, but they say the federal government remains silent on this issue. Alex Karpa reports.

By Alex Karpa

Calls continue to grow from animal welfare advocates demanding the federal government ban live horse exports from Canada.

The horses are shipped overseas for slaughter – primarily to Japan – from Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary airports.

Animal advocacy groups have been asking for years for the practice to be stopped. But no ban is in place, and more shipments are scheduled to happen out of the Winnipeg airport.

“If people could see what we see at the horse shipments, I think they would be speaking out more,” said Danae Tonge with Manitoba Animal Save.

“They really need to start shutting it down and stop sending the shipments.”

A video circulating online shows horses being loaded into cargo boxes, which were then put onto an airplane at Winnipeg International Airport in December.

“The footage is out there. People can view it,” said Tonge. “I just hope people stand up for horses because they cannot change this themselves. They really need Canadians to band together and speak out for them.”


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Tonge says there is at least one export of live horses each month during the winter in Winnipeg, shipping dozens of horses each time. Thousands of horses are shipped by air from Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary every year.

Advocacy groups, like Manitoba Animal Save, and well known Canadians including singer Jan Arden have been calling on the federal Liberals to stop the export of horses to Japan for slaughter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to banning live export during the 2021 federal election, and the commitment was included in the minister of agriculture’s December 2021 mandate letter, but no action has been taken.

Kaitlyn Mitchell with Animal Justice Canada says she has been constantly reaching out to Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau to get the ban in place.

“We’ve tried to bring these issues to her attention, to really underscore the urgency of action, but we have not heard anything from her office,” said Mitchell, the group’s director of legal advocacy.

WATCH: Campaign to end horse exportation for slaughter

CityNews reached out to Bibeau for comment at the beginning of February. A spokesperson said the federal government is “engaging with key stakeholders to determine the best course of action to ban the export of live horses for slaughter.”

But Mitchell says this has been going on for far too long.

“What (the horses) are going to endure in the next several days is going to be horrific,” she said. “They’re going to suffer, and this could’ve been prevented.”

Mitchell says it’s important for Canadians to speak out against this inhumane transport of live horses.

“It’s completely unnecessary,” she said. “Canada can do better, and we know we can do better, and the government has promised to do better. What we really need is for Canadians to continue to speak for these horses because they cannot speak for themselves.”

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