"...the usual sources of human evil--greed, ignorance and plain, slothful indifference--provide the sorry impetus for enough animal abuse horror stories to make Blood Relations as disheartening a reading experience as it is revelatory. It nonetheless needs to be told, and Montgomery is to be commended for having both the crisp analytical skills and moral foresight to tell it."
, The Toronto Star
"A thorough, thoughtful, and very readable account of both the history and the present state of the animal rights movement(s)...the best thing about Blood Relations is Montgomery herself, whose sly humour and refreshing uncertainty poke through the convention of journalistic objectivity and make Blood Relations more of a philosophical memoir, a retelling of an intellectual and emotional journey, than simply another piece of radical tourism."
, THIS Magazine
"Of greatest value is Montgomery's publicizing of events, people, motives and issues that have so often been either ignored or misrepresented and ridiculed. I strongly recommend Blood Relations for its contribution to a Canadian examination of the issues it features."
--Barry Kent MacKay
, The Toronto Star
"Montgomery is an engaging writer who asks logical questions about the issues, and then answers them in a detailed, accessible manner...It is refreshing to see a journalist bring a sense of moral outrage to a book but still value subtlety over sledgehammer. Clearly sympathetic to the radical strand of the movement, Montgomery nonetheless gives all sides a fair hearing, and leaves us with provocative questions about the way humans treat their fellow creatures."
, Quill and Quire
From the Author
"Unfortunately, because its about animals, people see it as irrelevant. In fact, it's about humans, its not about animals. Its about what humans are doing. There are ethics that underlie a lot of things we do and you have to deal with those questions before you can have policy."
in conversation with Joanna Fine, June 2000
JOANNA FINE: Why did you feel it was necessary to write a book on animal rights in Canada?
CHARLOTTE MONTGOMERY: In terms of Canadian groups, people, and issues there are only a couple books out there. People tend to think of either the UK or the United States when they think of animal rights politics. But it is not true. Its just that in Canada we dont pay much attention to it, we treat it as kind of nutty. In that sense I dont think people are even aware of what hundreds of people are working on in Canada and why. Blood Relations basically says heres an example of whats out there, and what you dont know about. Its quite strange for something of interest to so many people to have such a gap in attention and knowledge about it.
JF: So, is the problem that animal rights is not being talked about?
CM: It's deliberately not being talked about. That's what I thought was interesting when I starting looking at it. It isnt that everybody said Ive never thought about it. Among those who have familiarity with animals, especially in a commercial way, they are deliberately not talking about it. The notion is that if you treat it with any dignity or respect, you give those people a huge opening. The real problem is that you cant seem to have a conversation yet in Canadian terms and be treated seriously.
JF: Yet animal rights seems to be very timely considering issues such as the water crisis in Walkerton, Ontario. Why dont we read about the animal rights side of issues such as Walkerton in the media?
CM: I think its a certain amount of laziness on the part of the media, as well as unfamiliarity. These issues may be interesting but they are not really day-to-day. What I found unforgivable on the part of media is that when people covered the water disaster in Walkerton, they talked all about what kind of systems should be in place, who should monitor them, and everything else in order to protect you from this poisonous stuff. But they dont go and say do you really think this poisonous stuff that were spending huge amounts of money keeping out of the water should have to be there in the first place? Why didnt they ask why is it there?
JF: Why do you think this is?
CM: Because it is agriculture, which has a reputation of being good solid citizens, people dont stop and think about it because its just what is there. Its there because its there, and we do things that way because thats the way we do things. But in fact, most of us dont know how those things are done. We dont know that there are huge amounts of animals in one place. We sort of think thats normal life so we should protect against things we cant get around. That is an example of a shocking lapse on the part of the media.
JF: As an experienced journalist, why do you think the Canadian media fail to treat animal issues as a serious political issue?
CM: In order to have that type of conversation over animals, you have to get over the hump of ridicule. That there is something sappy, or nutty, or frivolous about you because until you solve the many human problems why would anyone in their right mind want to waste their time on animal issues. And yet there are a lot of people who are sympathetic. I dont think a lot of people in the general population would find this at all extreme. Unfortunately, because its about animals, people see it as irrelevant. In fact, it's about humans, its not about animals. Its about what humans are doing. There are ethics that underlie a lot of things we do and you have to deal with those questions before you can have policy.
JF: Is part of the problem the lack of an underlying ethic of human-non-human relations?
CM: I think the lack is perhaps people who are active in political issues, whether as politicians or as political activists, being willing to help raise these issues. You always need someone to champion an issue. At some point, you have to have some politi