Protestors are going to face new 'tools' to keep them away from demonstrating

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 28th, 2020



Last June Regan Russell was walking in front of a transport truck that was loaded with hogs that were being taken into the Fearmans slaughter house.  The truck had stopped until protesters finished walking front of it; Regan Russell wasn’t able to get out of the way in time and was run over by the truck.  She died at the scene.

Pig protester killed

Regan Russell

The slaughter house is part of a group of slaughter houses across the country that are owned by Sofina Foods.

Regan was one of a number of demonstrators who gather regularly at the Harvester Road/Appleby Line intersection to, as they put it, “bear witness to what is taking place” and to attempt to water the hogs.

They see what they are doing as a peaceful demonstration. They are indeed slowing down the entry of the truck into the meat processing plant.

Regan was run over by the truck that apparently didn’t see her. She was slight in stature and the front of the truck was very high.

The Regional Police investigated and came to the conclusion that a 28-year-old male from the Municipality of North Perth was to be charged with Careless Driving Causing Death under the Highway Traffic Act. The police reported that ‘there were no grounds to indicate this was an intentional act, or that a criminal offence had been committed.”

pigs - watered - girls

The protesters usually arrive as a group waiting for the transport truck to enter the slaughterhouse.

Animal Rights protesters have been demonstrating at that location for a number of years.

The meat processing plant, in operation since the 1960’s, has no intention of moving and currently employs 1000 people.

The provincial government recently passed legislation that would give the municipalities that have demonstrator problems “tools” to handle these situations.

The argument is that the issue is really one of public safety – they want the demonstrators out of the way.

Strong legislation certainly helps do that.

pigs being watered

Protestors water hogs when the transport has to stop for a traffic light at the entrance to the slaughterhouse.

At the Monday City Council meeting a resolution was put forward and passed unanimously.

The Resolution reads:

Whereas the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 recognizes the unique risks that can result from interfering with livestock transport including creating unsafe work conditions as well as causing stress to animals and introducing diseases or contaminating our food supply; and

Whereas Sections 6(1), 7, 14(1) 3 and 15(1) of the Act came into effect on September 2, 2020 and prohibit the stopping, hindering, obstructing or otherwise interfering with a motor vehicle transporting farm animals; and

Whereas protest groups, including minor children, present outside the Sofina pork plant in Burlington continue to reach inside livestock trailers to touch, film and give water to the pigs creating an unsafe situation where they may be injured by the animals or trailer; and

Whereas the recent tragic loss of the life of a protester in Burlington underscores the urgent need to ensure the safety of all involved; and

Whereas Section 6(2) of the Act states that 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;

Therefore be it resolved that the City of Burlington pass a resolution urging the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to immediately proclaim Section 6(2) of the Act in order to provide a legal basis to prevent the unsafe practice of protestors having contact with livestock trailers and animals; and

That this resolution be forwarded to Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Region of Halton.

Those in favour of the motion didn’t have a word to say about the right of people to protest.

pigs - single

Hog suffering from heat while being transported.

Councillor Sharman sounded more like a shill for Sofina Foods (they are in his ward) rather than a person responsible for the wider community. The puffball questions he asked the three delegations were embarrassing.

Which begs the question: Why not find a way to allow the Animal Rights people to demonstrate, maybe even water the hogs while the trucks wait at the gate for 10 minutes.

After which the demonstrators would be required to move on.

The Conservation Authority closes off a portion of Kind Road for weeks in the spring so that the Jefferson Salamander can cross the road and mate in the wetlands.

He isn't exactly pretty but nevertheless plays an important role in the local environment. Comes in different colours as well.

He isn’t exactly pretty but nevertheless plays an important role in the local environment.

In 2008 a provincial tribunal found that the loss of a habitat for the Jefferson Salamander in north Burlington was reason enough not to give the Nelson Aggregate an extension to their license.

We have a proud history of protecting endangered species.  Admittedly hogs are not endangered but the right of people to voice their views in a public place is as important as making huge allowances for an endangered species.

That history was sullied this morning by city council.

Related news story:

Protester run over by truck transporting pigs to slaughter.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

5 comments to Protestors are going to face new ‘tools’ to keep them away from demonstrating

  • Lawson Polik

    This is a disgusting piece of journalism. You should be ashamed, Pepper. I watched the whole thing, and the delegates made repeated mention of respecting the right to protest. Please read the letters of submission again. I did. This is an issue of public safety. I fully support the activists right to protest, but when that leaks into breaking the law and potentially endangering lives, something needs to be done to ensure everyone makes it home at the end of the day.

  • Jim Barnett

    Dead wrong Pepper! A few years ago police charged a protester who was protesting from an island in Appleby Line. The Judge did not find the evidence compelling and found the perpetrator innocent. This led to the demonstrations continuing and finally the death of a demonstrator. In my opinion this death can be linked directly to the judges incorrect decision..
    Peaceful protest is part of the foundation of our democracy. Peaceful process does not include putting yourself in danger, the transport company or their cargo in harms way or the restriction of commerce in general. The province and the city are dead right..

  • david barker

    The view and comparison set forward in the last paragraph of the article is invalid. He protesters rights should be no more than those of the business to give protesters preferential rights is not Democratic and unfair. The protesters as the article does explain have the right to stand and protest and announce their views. But they do not have the legal right to stop vehicles entering into the premises nor do they have the right to interfere with the hogs on the trailers those are all covered by law. I’m confident we all believe in free speech. That is free speech on all sides of an argument . What this article advocates is that one side of an argument should have preferential treatment compared to the other. That is a nonsense. The protesters have the right to stand there on the sidewalk hold up placards shout out their views or whatever but they do not have the right to stop the business carrying on within its legal rights. They do not have the right to stop vehicles entering in to or out of the premises. They do not have the right to interfere with the animals, providing them with water other ingestibles.

    One of the reasons for the law being that third parties may not interfere with animals is to ensure that the food chain is kept secure from contaminants. Whilst these protesters may be peaceful they could very well be infiltrated by others who have darker intentions, i.e. disrupting our food chain.

    To my view this situation is very similar to that of a strike at a business. The strikers have the right to withdraw their labor and to protest outside peaceably, but they do not have the right to prohibit the employer from carrying on its business. The law should be more rigorously enforced and strikers prevented from shutting down entrances at factories and interfering with people who wish to enter or exit the premises.

    Really it’s all about equal rights for all . Not more rights for some unless for others !

  • Penny Hersh

    There is no question that the death of Regan Russell was a tragedy. No one will dispute that.

    Should these demonstrators be giving water to these animals is another issue. What if the water had been contaminated?

    It is one thing to demonstrate, it is quite another thing to interfere with the delivery of these animals to a slaughterhouse.

    If the issue for these activists is the fact that the hogs are suffering from heat then perhaps they need to work on getting some changes in the way these animals are being transported, or working with Sofina Foods to eliminate the 10 minute wait time.

    Giving the animals water and risking lives is not the answer.