The first part of the season premiere of W5 on the CTV network this past week was pretty disturbing. It focused on one pork plant in Alberta where pigs were subjected to some pretty bad conditions and were cruelly abused by the staff.
One of the more disturbing aspects of the exposé is that inspectors with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, who were responsible for, among other things, ensuring compliance with animal welfare legislation, sometimes actually seemed to be complicit in the abuse in the worst case and negligent in their duties in the best case.
An undercover animal welfare activist who was in the plant mentioned some concerns to one of the CFIA inspectors. Instead of investigating the concerns, they apparently focused on following the person who made the complaint.
You could say that it’s just one plant. Maybe. However, the fact that the CFIA inspectors were negligent and even complicit and that the CFIA was not very cooperative with the W5 investigation strongly suggests to me that there is a larger, serious systematic problem here.
I eat meat. I have no plans to stop eating meat. I like to eat pork. It’s delicious. However, I very strongly believe that there is no excuse for cruel treatment of animals.
Individuals within many animal species, especially relatively intelligent social animals like pigs, experience emotions similar to our own. Using modern techniques, I think it is possible to raise and slaughter them without cruelty or significant discomfort and fear. Further, that we can do so implies to me that there is no excuse for not doing so.
We can and must do better. And, of course, it’s not only the pigs.