People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is threatening to sue the city of Toronto and Astral Media for removing anti-Canada Goose ads.
The animal rights group said Friday that it would start legal action against the city and Astral, if they did not repost ads the group paid to put up in September that criticized the Toronto-based luxury jacket maker for using goose down and coyote fur in its jackets.
The ads featured images of the animals with captions saying "I'm a living being, not a piece of fur trim" and "I'm a living being, not a jacket filling" and were put up at bus shelters between Canada Goose's headquarters and the home of CEO's company, Dani Reiss.
PETA's assistant manager of clothing campaigns Christina Sewell told The Canadian Press that the ads were meant to run for four weeks but were up for less than 24 hours in September.
"Astral let us know they had to pull the ads because they had too many numerous complaints," she said.
A spokesperson for Bell Media Inc., which owns Astral, said it removed the ads because they were not in line with the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, which restricts ads from disparaging organizations or causing public ridicule.
Ads did not violate standards, PETA says
PETA claims it is not violating the standards.
"PETA's position remains that its right to free expression includes the right to place this particular artwork – in its current form – on the city property, and that the removal of its artwork violated this right," the group said in a letter it sent to the city, Bell Media and Astral Media on Thursday.
Asked about the ads, the city of Toronto spokesman Eric Holmes said Astral "is responsible for applying the standards and any decisions related to the approval and removal of advertising content on these assets."
Sewell, who called the ads "benign," said PETA does not have a timeline for how soon it will take legal action if the ads are not reposted, but is committed to carrying out their threat.
A Canada Goose spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Canada Goose defends the use of fur
The company has long been in PETA's crosshairs.
PETA members, sometimes dressed as coyotes, have protested in front of the apparel company's stores and have repeatedly billed Canada Goose as a perpetrator of "shameless cruelty."
"There are so many cruelty-free alternatives out there and things that are made out of plants or synthetic." Fur is hugely detrimental to the environment, "Sewell said, noting that Canada Goose has not gotten in touch with PETA since it unveiled the ads.
"We have been campaigning for several years now and we are very hard pressed to get a direct response from the company."
Canada has previously complained about its use of fur, saying it is committed to the ethical treatment of animals, that "having a fur trim around a jacket hood disrupts airflow that helps protect the face from frostbite" and that it uses goose down because it is "one of the world's best natural insulators."
"We do not condone any willful misconduct, neglect, or acts that maliciously cause animal undue suffering," the company's website says. "Our standards for the sourcing and use of fur, down and wool reflect our commitment that materials are derived from animals that are not subject to willful mistreatment or undue harm."