An intrepid urban chicken fan has taken on more than Calgary’s city hall. He has taken on Canada’s commitment to the right to food.
Paul Hughes is a veteran and single father who lives on a disability pension. He sees raising chickens as a constitutional right. So in 2009 he called city hall to report an illegal chicken coop. The coop was his.
He was acting in solidarity with a Calgary woman who had been fined for keeping three chickens in her backyard. Hughes considered the city’s ban on urban chickens a violation of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states:
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination…
Hughes insisted Calgary’s bylaw was unconstitutional because some Canadian cities allow urban chickens. He also asserted Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was at issue:
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Next: The City Moves Against Hughes
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