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CANADA’S AG-GAG: Proposed agriculture law violates charter rights, animal rights activists say

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The legislation comes after 'livestock' producers pressed the government to prosecute those who trespass on their properties and demonstrate at processing plants.

SHAWN JEFFORDS: A proposed law to protect farmers from aggressive protesters will trample freedom of speech, say animal rights activists who are calling on the Ontario government to reverse course on the bill. The activists told a legislative committee Monday that the bill — dubbed the Security from Trespass and Animal Safety Act — will violate the charter and will spark legal challenges. The bill was introduced in 2019 by the Ontario government and would hike fines for trespassing on farms and food-processing facilities and make it illegal to obstruct trucks carrying farm animals.

The executive director of Animal Justice told an all-party committee reviewing the legislation that the bill is a step backwards for animal protection and is unconstitutional. “We’ve seen this movie before and the lengthy court battle will waste taxpayer funds at a time when we’re going further into debt,” Camille Labchuk said. The legislation comes after livestock producers pressed Premier Doug Ford’s government to take action to prosecute those who trespass on their properties and demonstrate at processing plants.

Under the legislation, fines for trespassing would be set at a maximum of $15,000 for a first offence and up to $25,000 for subsequent offences, compared to current maximum trespassing fines of $10,000. The bill would allow a court to order restitution for any injury, loss or damage caused as a result of an offence… Miranda Desa, a consultant for the group Last Chance for Animals, said the bill would make it illegal to gain access to a farm or processing plant under “false pretenses.” That would mean animal rights groups could not expose cases of abuse by using whistleblowers who work on a farm or in a processing plant. SOURCE…

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