Shortly before the New Year, the Canadian Transport Agency issued its decision to support Air Canada’s ban on transportation of primates destined for research. The agency recognized the ‘potential’ impact on Air Canada’s brand by the 47000 people that via email opposed such transportation. Some of the letters received by Air Canada threatened to cease using their services if this (transport) were to continue whilst others indicated it as a reason for not using Air Canada. As a carrier Air Canada transports thirty two (32) million passengers per year and it identifies itself primarily as a passenger carrier transporting cargo in its bellies.
Air Canada submits that non human primate transportation represents 0.01% of its total weight worldwide in 2010 whereas the numbers for 2011 represent 0.001% in 2011. It is therefore considered minimal in terms of commercial value and in comparison with total weight transported (a means of showing the minimal amount of shippers affected).
Given these minimal numbers it is hard to understand why the agency let’s Canadian transportation policy be defined by such a minority of voices and of shipments. Nevertheless as it has the task to decide upon the matter submitted, the agency considers the potential commercial impact on Air Canada to be serious enough to support a ban on shippers of laboratory destined primates because in effect that is what the Air Canada decision entails. Other means of transportation being available the agency has no problem supporting a solution whereby the animals for example are trucked into the country as is pointed out by the BUAV and HSIC.
Coming from an aviation background the agency and its members should have noted that the most humane way of transporting animals is by air not by ground. Ironically BUAV and HSIC are now supporting longer and less humane means of transportation as opposed to supporting the animal’s best welfare interests! Click here to read their campaign against air canada and those that collaborated to this decision.
The same animal being shipped from and to a zoo for example would benefit from Air Canada services whereas one identical animal destined to a laboratory would not. If this is not discriminatory to shippers and animals then I don’t know what is. The agency however does not consider the decision to be discriminatory. I call this denial of service.
The Transport Canada decision is, seeded with statements made by the BUAV a foreign based entity, almost reading as if the agency is required to provide its comments with equal weight or standing. A Canadian transport policy (the accessibility to available air services for shippers) is now heavily influenced if not shaped by foreign input whereas native comments or input is simply ignored.
The medical progress brought through primate research are numerous and clearly documented. The agency however fails to take this aspect into consideration and has made a decision around matters submitted to it by a number of interested parties –amongst whom the writer of this article, without looking beyond the issues or facts at hand. Medical progress benefits all Canadians and animals and the agency should have defended these interests as well as part of the due diligence expected from an official agency. For Air Canada the decision is also short sighted for Pharmaceutical and related companies do transport their cold chain goods under their wings and their traveling employees in their business class seats.
A sad day for Canadians, animals and medical progress – please do not follow this unprecedented Canadian example. As a service transportation must be available to all, always. As I have said before I did not vote for this! Did you?