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Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety
Mail: (free postage - no stamps required)
Minister of Public Safety
House of Commons
Ottawa, Canada K1A 0A6
Mark Gerretsen, MP Kingston and the Islands
Mark Holland, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety
Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader
Brenda Sayers, Green Critic for Public Safety
Matthew Dubé, NDP Critic for Public Safety
Pierre Paul-Hus, Conservative Critic for Public Safety
Suggested topics and points to raise
The Evolve model of plant-based farming and animal sanctuary as prisoner-animal therapy compellingly unites a wide range of government and community priorities concerning effective rehabilitation & reintegration programming; sustainable agriculture; dietary health & food security; and cost effectiveness.
The decision to reinstate prison dairy operations raises challenging questions such as:
- With daily reports on the links between animal agriculture and greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental externalities, why would the government support ecologically irresponsible farming through the prison system?
- Why would the government choose a high cost dairy farm option when plant-based prison farms could be established at much lower cost, and would build on existing prison infrastructure including greenhouses, and community market garden partnerships?
- Given that government subsidies to the dairy industry are already contentious, why would the government throw yet more support to this industry? Dairy consumption in Canada continues to drop dramatically. The government should be supporting sustainable agriculture in areas showing strong growth and employment potential – such as organic plant and legume-based farming.
- With daily reports about the health benefits of plant-based diets, and the dangers of meat and dairy consumption, why would the government subsidize unsound dietary choices for prisoners?
- Given the high levels of lactose intolerance amongst all non-European origin populations, and in particular amongst aboriginal Canadians, why would the government subsidize the production of dairy foods that are unsuitable for large segments of the prison population? (Aboriginal Canadians represent a disproportionate 25% of the prison population.)
- Why would the government claim that engaging in harmful treatment of animals is ‘therapeutic’ despite overwhelming evidence that learning to objectify animals, and harden one’s response to their pain and suffering, leads to general diminishment of empathy, and a greater propensity to engage in violence (against humans as well as animals)? Former prisoners readily acknowledge that they were involved in harmful practices such as kicking cows to make them work, and swinging chickens until their necks were broken. Basing rehabilitation on an exploitative model of human use of animals is inherently contradictory, whereas developing a sanctuary or rescue model (as many prisons are already doing), allows for genuinely humane and therapeutic human-animal relationships.
We strongly encourage the government to reconsider the political calculus, and to make a decision about the prison farms based on evidence and sound public policy. A modest policy pivot towards plant-based farms and sanctuary is the right decision, and would gain widespread public support.