A new bill unveiled by Ontario's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has farmers hopeful they might have a little more peace of mind on their properties. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

New Ontario legislation seeks to protect livestock producers

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A disagreement between animal rights activists and livestock producers is intensifying in Ontario after the province introduced legislation Monday that it says will protect those in the livestock business.

The bill, the Security and Trespass and Animal Safety Act, would increase fines for trespassing on farms and food processing facilities as well as make it illegal to obstruct trucks carrying farm animals.

Not surprisingly, animal rights activists are not happy with the proposed legislation, which would create so-called “animal protection zones.”

The bill would see fines of up to $15,000 for a first offence and up to $25,000 for subsequent offences.

Protesters are seen in June, 2018 in downtown Stratford, Ont. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

Currently, the maximum fine for trespassing is $10,000.

Introduction of the legislation follows intense lobbying by livestock producers.

“Ontario farmers and agriculture workers deserve to be able to carry out the important work they do without fear for their safety,” Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman said Monday.

“These are the people who produce the food we eat every day, and I’ve reflected on their experiences and concerns while drafting this proposed bill.”

Camille Labchuk, the executive director of Animal Justice, an animal rights group, told Canadian Press’s Shawn Jeffords that the bill would also make it illegal to gain access to a farm processing plant under “false pretences.”

Labchuk calls the proposed legislation “chilling” because it would mean animal rights groups could not expose cases of abuse by using whistleblowers.

Dozens of animal rights activists are seen at a southern Alberta farm this fall engaged in what they called a liberation lockdown for turkeys, (Cranbrook Friends of Animals Society)

“For someone who gets a job and doesn’t disclose membership in an animal rights group, that could be an offence potentially punishable by huge fines,” Labchuk told Jeffords.

Another activist, Anita Krajnc, the founder of the vegan advocacy group Toronto Pig Save, told Jeffords part of the new bill appears aimed at just a few animal rights groups, including hers.

Krajnc became well known in 2015 when she was charged for giving water to pigs on their way to slaughter.

She was found not guilty after a judge ruled she didn’t harm the animals or prevent them from being slaughtered.

Alberta recently introduced similar legislation last week, which in addition to an increase in cost of fines, repeat offenders could be sent to jail for up to six months.

With files from CP, Global

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