Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

A Northern Ontario firefighter tried to have veganism accepted as a right after being disciplined at work.

Ethical veganism is not a right in the sense of belief

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The notion of food ethics in a non-religious sense has never before been examined in the courts in this country. (Archive photo)

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Ontario court rules veganism is not a human right as a non-religious belief, rejecting Adam Knauff's petition. The vegan firefighter was suspended in 2017 because he protested against his employer for not giving him proper meals at work. He filed a discrimination complaint against the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Adam Knauff's defense affirmed during the hearings that veganism is more than a lifestyle choice or a way of living, but a belief. She even spoke about ethical behavior and an undeniable trait of her client's identity.

As non-religious belief, the firefighter's defense therefore argued that it was a right enshrined in the Ontario Human Rights Code in the same way as religious beliefs which for example prohibit certain types of food.

The 44-year-old Ontario man claimed he was discriminated against based on his ethical veganism and that x27;he had been unjustly suspended without pay when he complained to his employer during a deployment in the west of the country.

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Adam Knauff filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in 2017 against his employer over his dietary choices.

In her decision, Ontario Human Rights Tribunal adjudicator Karen Dawson wrote that the defense did not could prove that ethical veganism met one of the criteria associated with a non-religious belief under the Code.

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Criteria for determining a belief in Ontario

Source: Ontario Human Rights Commission

Ms. Dawson readily accepts that veganism meets the first two criteria.

She explains, however, that Mr. Knauff's defense failed to demonstrate that ethical veganism addressed the ultimate questions of human existence or existence. ;existence or non-existence of a higher order and/or a Creator.

Failing to be able to meet this third criterion, the arbitrator emphasizes that vegan beliefs are therefore not non-religious beliefs.

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Adam Knauff says he is against all cruelty towards animals, the exploitation of dairy cows and laying hens and the intensive practice of monoculture.

Mr. Knauff's key witness, socio-psychologist Melanie Joy, had nevertheless said during the hearings that ethical veganism called into question the meaning of life, the place of humans in the world and the cosmos and she ;questioned the reasons why a compassionate universe could allow the suffering of animals.

Ms. Dawson nevertheless explains that Ms. Joy's remarks are only very general philosophical observations and that they do not allow us to demonstrate the way in which ethical veganism addresses the existence or non-existence of another order of existence and/or of nature. a Creator.

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In his complaint, Adam Knauff claims he felt humiliated, had to endure anxiety, emotional distress and exhaustion, and that his reputation was damaged.

Consequently, I find that ethical veganism does not constitute a non-religious belief in itself within the framework of the definition of the Code, concludes arbitrator Dawson who thus rejects Mr. Knauff.

The firefighter cannot therefore have suffered, according to her, discrimination from his employer, or even retaliation, regarding his food choices, since ethical veganism does not constitute a human right within the meaning of the Code. .

In a statement, Mr. Knauff's lawyer called the decision surprising and disturbing. Wade Poziomka writes that he plans to seek judicial review in higher court.

He said he was amazed that the Court recognized that belief included non-religious beliefs, but nevertheless rejected veganism as a form of belief because it does not address the existence of or the non-existence of a Creator and/or a higher order of existence.

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The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal is located in this downtown Toronto building.

Me Poziomka recalls that the Ontario Human Rights Commission revised its policy on preventing discrimination based on belief in 2015 to provide better protections for people with non-religious beliefs.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The Commission does write that belief can also include non-religious belief systems which, like religion, significantly influence a person's identity, worldview and way of life.

Vegan people are certainly linked to a higher order belief system and this proof was presented to the Court, writes Me Poziomka.

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Resources lawyer says only Ontario Human Rights Code should guide the arbitrator of the administrative court to rule on Mr. Knauff's request.

The Animal Justice group, which had unsuccessfully attempted to obtain intervenor status in this case, also says it is very disappointed.

Its first director, lawyer Camille Labchuk, affirms that the nature of ethical veganism meets all the criteria of the definition of non-religious belief, because it is based on compassion and respect for animals.< /p>

It is incredibly disappointing that the Court failed to protect vegan people from discrimination simply because their belief system does not center on the existence of a creator, she said.

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Freedom of conscience and religion is enshrined in section 2a of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Mr. Labchuk also believes that the arbitrator committed an error of law by refusing to take into account the Canadian Charter which rules, according to her, that veganism is a right listed in Article 2a.

She emphasizes that there was also reason to analyze international jurisprudence on this subject as is the case in Great Britain, where a court ruled in 2020 that ethical veganism was now protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Mr. Knauff did not want to grant us an interview. Mr. Labchuk adds that he is tired after 7 years of struggle, but that he is not giving up.

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