Paul Hughes, a longtime food justice activist and a 2010 mayoral candidate, has been fighting with the City of Calgary and the provincial courts for two years now, ever since he started his crusade to allow backyard chickens within city limits.
On Wednesday, September 5, the so-called Canadian Right to Food trial was decided, but came after this paper went to print.
The verdict is important to anyone concerned with local food justice as it determines the constitutional nature of the current prohibition of raising chickens for eggs in an urban residential area. Hughes began with a challenge of Calgary’s responsible pet ownership bylaw in 2010 after being charged for possession of six chickens. His fight evolved into a much larger case, with Hughes drawing on components of the Municipal Government Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, imagineCALGARY and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in his court challenge to the bylaw.
Hughes says the court decision will affect “all Canadians who are going up against their capricious councils... and are having real serious struggles in their communities, and all that they’ve done is have chickens in their backyard.” He’s convinced that if this trial is successful, it will mark a much larger shift in how Canadians relate to their food.
“This verdict is a cornerstone and we can start to build off of it,” he says.
Hughes intends to appeal if he loses the case.