Alberta proposes heavier penalties for on-farm trespassing
Glacier FarmMedia Network
via Canadian Cattlemen - October 3, 2019
Alberta’s government proposes to discourage future on-farm protests — events in the style of an occupation held early last month at an Alberta Hutterite colony’s turkey farm — on pain of new penalties.
Speaking Thursday at the Jumbo Valley colony near Fort Macleod, Premier Jason Kenney, Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer and Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen pledged in the next legislative session to introduce rules “designed to punish illegal protestors who invade farms, and to discourage such dangerous activity.”
Kenney said he has asked Dreeshen and Schweitzer “to consider all options, including legislation, to protect livestock producers’ operations and their families from harassment,” and more details would be available “in the weeks to come.”
The provincial legislative assembly resumes sitting Tuesday morning (Oct. 8).
For one example, Kenney said, the government proposes to strengthen the province’s Petty Trespass Act to “specifically address trespass on agricultural land.”
For individuals, the province said, the proposals include fines of up to $10,000 for a first offence and up to $25,000 for subsequent offences and imprisonment of up to six months.
Organizations involved in such actions — groups which Schweitzer described Thursday as “the organizations perpetrating this, organizing it, facilitating it” — would face fines of up to $200,000.
Another proposal calls for amendments to the provincial Animal Health Act, under which farmers affected by “biosecurity breaches due to unlawful entry” could recover their costs.
That proposal, Dreeshen said, calls for any trespassers or protesters who are found to be breaching biosecurity protocols to be fined $15,000 for first offences, then $30,000 plus imprisonment of up to one year for repeat offences.
The Provincial Offences Procedure Act would also be amended, the ministers said, to increase the maximum amount of compensation awarded by the court from $25,000 to $100,000.
Kenney on Thursday also pledged...
Toronto-based animal law organization Animal Justice, in a separate release Thursday, described Alberta’s proposed fines as “astronomical” and warned that the proposed law on capturing images would “target whistleblowing employees who record and expose animal abuse on farms.”
The group said Alberta’s proposed new legislation “appears to share many elements of so-called ‘ag gag’ laws, passed in some states, that criminalize whistleblowers who expose animal cruelty on farms.” Such laws, the group said, have been struck down as unconstitutional in “multiple” states...