TORONTO – Just days after Animal Justice released graphic hidden-camera footage of violent animal abuse on an Ontario pig farm, the provincial government is bringing laws into effect that make it illegal to go undercover at farms and slaughterhouses.
The government announced today the proclamation of the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Security Act, bringing the law into effect. This new agricultural gag law (also known as an “ag gag” law) makes it an offence to gain access to farms and slaughterhouses via false pretences, thereby outlawing undercover investigations by animal advocates and journalists, and putting whistleblowers at risk of prosecution.
The announcement comes just days after Animal Justice released shocking hidden-camera footage that it gathered at Paragon Farms, a pig breeding operation in Putnam, Ontario. The disturbing video, narrated by singer Jann Arden, will be the last legal investigation of a farm in Ontario. The footage reveals workers kicking, beating, and hitting pigs; pigs suffering from open wounds and serious injuries; baby piglets having their testes and tails sliced off without pain relief; and appalling conditions including feces, filth, maggots, and mould. Provincial law enforcement authorities are investigating the video evidence of illegal abuse and neglect.
“This week, Animal Justice exposed the egregious, unchecked abuse of pigs on an Ontario farm,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “It’s shocking that instead of cracking down on this appalling animal cruelty, the government is pushing ahead with unconstitutional laws to cover up abuse and neglect on farms.
“Animals kept behind the closed doors of Ontario farms have no regulations to protect them, and the government doesn’t inspect or monitor animal welfare conditions on farms. Yet instead of passing laws to prevent animal abuse, the government is banning advocates, journalists, and whistleblowers from exposing this heartbreaking animal suffering in the future.”
The new legislation has been panned as unconstitutional by dozens of Canadian legal experts in a letter sent to the Ontario government. It will also interfere with the rights of animal advocates to peacefully protest outside slaughterhouses, and to document the illegal suffering of animals inside transport trucks.
Animal Justice intends to challenge the constitutionality of Ontario’s ag gag laws in court. The meat industry is lobbying for cruelty cover-up laws across the country. Alberta passed similar laws last year. PEI passed ag gag-style legislation last week, and it is also under consideration in Manitoba and Quebec.
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