This week on NYK Politics, Kathryn Sussman and Zoocheck founder Rob Laidlaw give an overview of the most pressing animal welfare & environmental topics that Canadians should consider when casting their vote at the 2019 federal election.

They describe the links between climate change and conservation issues, as well as the biggest threats faced by animal species in Canada. Climate change can’t be discussed in isolation from animal welfare, and we should bridge the gap that creates a disconnect traditionally as all these questions are interwoven and affect the whole planet, including us as human beings.

Among the many wildlife concerns that should be considered from coast to coast that many people may have heard about – such as temperature rising in Northern climates and habitat reduction in urban settings – Rob highlights the common practices of animals imported from abroad where they are caught in the wild for the Canadian pet trade, or animals used in science that many advocacy groups have stood up against for decades. Rob comments on the improvements needed in our legal frameworks, such as a basic recognition that animals aren’t considered as property, and addressing pet ownership federally. Rob reminds us that another one of the biggest issues in Canada of course are farmed animals, about which we are awfully behind in terms of federal regulations compared to other nations. Canada is certainly behind in regards to international trends and much can be done in terms of animal welfare federally, through a number of different kinds of laws that could tackle all the specific issues that people may have heard of.

“A lot of people do have a disconnect when they think about climate change, they don’t immediately gravitate to thinking about animals. They think about other things. Yes, we are facing a real dilemma about climate change, but so are animals, you can see that manifested all around us.” – Rob Laidlaw.

Kathryn goes on to explain her experience attending the first Canadian Animal Law conference in Halifax, and how scientists and legislation experts agree that all issues are interconnected. She suggests merging indigenous rights, with the rights of nature and animal welfare should be more recognized and discussed in communities across Canada, and be inspired from more progressive nations who are invested in these questions. She believes that anyone should do anything they can to help other creatures and to promote expansive discussions in their community.

So where should the average Canadian focus their attention in this federal election? How should you mobilize your efforts and think about the impact you can have when you cast your vote? Here are Kathryn and Rob’s tips.

Now you know!

Be part of the change!

  • Start the conversation in your community and make sure they understand the links between climate change and conservation
  • Engage the candidates that are running for office in your riding, talk about the issues that are important to you about animals and the environment
  • Make sure that candidates are aware of the concerns you have, sensitize them about the issues and ask questions
  • Ask candidates where do they stand and what they would do on this particular set of issues
  • Ask candidates about their party’s platform and whether they have a plan specifically for the environment
  • Hold candidates accountable if they do care, challenge them and make sure that they are a voice for the environment and for animals once they take office.
  • Help us spread the word by sharing this podcast in your network.


If you’ve enjoyed listening to our podcast, we’ve a favour to ask. A lot of volunteering goes into making Now You Know, but it still takes money to run. If you’d like to help us make future Now You Know podcasts, please consider donating. Thank you!

Kathryn, Gen and the Now You Know team.

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