TORONTO – US outdoor clothing brand, Canada Goose, has produced a documentary about polar bears in an attempt to deflect attention from controversy surrounding the use of fur in its garments. Produced in partnership with Polar Bears International (PBI), it is brand’s latest effort to show its support for environmental activism and animal conservation. The documentary comes in the wake of continued pressure from animal rights group, Peta, which claims the fur trim that lines the hoods of the company’s winter jackets comes from wild coyotes who were trapped, killed, and skinned. Peta claims wild coyotes trapped for their fur can suffer for days while facing blood loss, shock, dehydration, frostbite, gangrene, and attacks by predators.
Canada Goose’s documentary film saw a film crew shadow the scientists of Polar Bears International (PBI) as they researched—and lived alongside—the polar bears of Churchill, Manitoba for seven days. Entitled ‘Bare Existence,’ the documentary by Canada Goose follows PBI scientist Dr. Steven Amstrup and other members of the PBI team as they work to protect the habitat of wild polar bears in the region, which is the polar bear capital of the world.
The decision to produce the documentary appears questionable to say the least. Many observers will see it as a cynical attempt to present a softer side to a business which appears to be swimming against the public tide by its continued use of animal derived fibres in its products, particularly fur.
Last October, 25 Peta US supporters descended on the grand opening of Canada Goose’s flagship store in Toronto, prompting the company’s CEO to flee to the back of the store. Then in January, Maggie Q, star of Designated Survivor, led a team of PETA US activists in a protest outside the company’s headquarters.
Last year, the business denied claims that it altered the language on its website regarding ethical sourcing in response to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Advertising Practices. The FTC conducted an investigation into the advertising practices of the business in June for possible violations of Section 5 of the FTA Act which requires that advertising claims be truthful and non-misleading. The FTC had expressed concern that Canada Goose may have made false or misleading representations about the treatment of geese whose down is used in Canada Goose’s apparel. The company’s stock fell more than four per cent in value following the reports that it was shifting its stance from one that said its standards “ensure” suppliers don’t mistreat animals to one that says it has a “commitment” to ethical sourcing. “The changes to our website were not made at the behest of the FTC, and the FTC did not reach any conclusions regarding whether any prior statements were misleading,” the company said in a statement in response to the claims.