Tayler Staneff

The Dual Failure of the Canadian Legal System: An Analysis of the Oppression of Animals and the Repression of Animal Activists

By, Tayler Staneff, Former Operations Manager with Mercy for Animals Canada


With a specific focus on the Canadian legal system, my research demonstrates a dual failure of the law and government to protect animals and the activists who mobilize on their behalf. Further, I argue that not only does the legal system fail to protect animals’ interests, but it also actively enables abuse while it masquerades as benevolent (through industry-generated “Recommended Codes of Practice”, etc.). I conclude by noting the economic incentives behind such ongoing egregious treatment. Throughout the paper, I draw on my personal observations and insider perspectives of Mercy for Animals Canada’s recent undercover investigations, and use these cases to highlight the inability of the current legislation to address institutionalized animal abuse. Overall, I survey some important sociological issues that shape animal agribusiness today, while I also warn Canadian activists about potential future legislative developments that could target animal activists.

In regards to Critical Animal Studies, my research examines the human-animal relationship involved with industrial animal agriculture in Canada, and using the case study of Mercy for Animals Canada, illustrates the failures of the current legal system. My work assesses the blatant speciesism within our legal system and how this legalized animal exploitation also leads to the repression of those speaking out on the behalf of animals. Further, I discuss how capitalism is a major factor in both the abuse of animals and the repression of animal activists, as it has been in many other forms of oppression, such as racism, sexism, etc. Lastly, with the new “anti-terror legislation” brought forth by the Canadian government, I use my work as a warning for activists that Canada is following in the footsteps of the US and other countries in their legal targeting of Canadian animal activists.


Tayler Staneff holds a MA in Critical Sociology and a BA in Political Science with a minor in Sociology from Brock University. She was the former Operations Manager with Mercy for Animals Canada and is currently volunteering her time to help change the world for animals. As an activist she works on numerous campaigns promoting veganism and animal liberation, as well as her continued hands-on work with local spay/neuter programs.