Ontario's "ag-gag" law raises protest stakes for animal rights activists

The death of a Toronto Pig Save activist outside a pork processing facility took place two days after a new law went into effect making it an offence to "interact" with farmed animals in a transport truck


by Zach Ruiter, Now Toronto (Canada)

June 29, 2020


Regan Russell, a 65-year-old Toronto Pig Save activist, died under the wheels of a tractor-trailer hauling pigs at Fearmans Pork Inc. slaughterhouse in Burlington on the morning of Friday, June 19.


Pig Save has informal agreements in place with most of the slaughterhouses it pickets, like in Toronto’s stockyards area, for example, says the group's founder, Anita Krajnc. The group has petitioned and requested the same of Fearmans, but without success, she says.


Pig Save activists typically block trucks for up to two minutes so they can bear witness to animals in their final moments. They document the animals’ conditions and offer words of love and apology for what is about to happen to them. But there have been a number of close calls over the years outside numerous facilities.


Sabrina Desgagne says that sometimes trucks will try “to give us a scare” in a game of chicken in which activists hold their ground and truckers move forward, until one or the other relents.  


On June 19, the situation turned deadly. Several activists contacted by NOW who witnessed Russell’s death were either too traumatized to speak or have been advised by lawyers against making public statements. They say police have video of the incident from activists at the scene.


Russell’s partner, Mark Powell, released a statement on June 25, calling Russell’s death “senseless” and “entirely preventable.” The family has retained a personal injury lawyer to investigate the matter.


Powell blamed legislation passed by the Ford government in the days before Russell’s death for raising the stakes on pickets outside slaughterhouses. The Security From Trespass And Protecting Food Safety Act sets up “animal protection zones” around slaughterhouses, and makes it an offence to "interact" with farmed animals in a transport truck, effectively bringing an end to peaceful vigils.


“For years, activists have been attempting to engage these plants, and the ag industry’s complete and utter lack of compassion over the years has led to various incidents, some of which can be viewed freely online,” Powell says. “While she championed many causes, Regan’s last moments were spent standing for what she most deeply believed in, alongside beloved friends supporting animal rights.”


Of pigs and police ...


No mercy ... 


“Go vegan for Regan” ...


43 years of activism ...


more, including links