There is a new law in Ontario that makes it unlawful to stop or obstruct a truck transporting farm animals.
The law, included in Section 6(1) of the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, states “No person shall interfere or interact with a farm animal being transported by a motor vehicle without the prior consent of the driver of the motor vehicle.” The law took effect on September 2.
The need for such legislation was brought to light when Regan Russell, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), was killed by a semi hauling pigs while she protested outside of a Sofina Foods pork plant in Burlington, Ontario. The driver was charged with careless driving causing death.
Leaders in Ontario hope this law will prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.
“(We want) to make sure we keep all the people safe; the people who are out demonstrating and the people who are driving the trucks, and the livestock,” Ontario Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman told the Clinton News Record.
The maximum fine for a first offense is CA$15,000 (US$11,415), while repeat offenses carry with them a maximum fine of CA$25,000.
In a statement issued to the Bay Observer, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said since Russell’s death, she continues to get calls, emails and photographs from community members that show protesters standing in the roadway by the Sofina Foods plant.
“Protests are allowed where they remain on public property, and it remains illegal to trespass on private property, even during a protest. We need to work together to ensure these protests take place safely on the sidewalks and do not place any protesters, drivers or pedestrians in danger. We want to avoid situations where the police need to charge protesters with an offence and deal with very costly penalties,” Ward stated.
Even before the fatal incident, there were also situations when animal rights activists caused problems for law enforcement in Ontario.
In 2016, Anita Krajnc, a member of Toronto Pig Save, was charged with criminal mischief for allegedly giving water to pigs in a truck that were headed for slaughter. She was allegedly asked by the driver to stop, but didn’t. A few month later, she was arrested on suspicion of obstruction for allegedly walking past a police tape at the scene of a traffic accident involving a pig transport truck, even after instructed by officers not to do so.