An animal rights activist has been charged under a new Ontario law for allegedly interfering with a truck carrying pigs to slaughter.
But Diane Smele vowed to fight the charges, which were laid Monday when she and about 20 other activists protested outside Fearman's Pork in Burlington, Ont.
She said she was legally walking across an intersection on a green light and not getting in the way of a truck full of pigs entering Fearman's Pork slaughterhouse.
Halton police said it's the first time it has laid a charge under Bill 156, called the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, which became law in June, but a few of the regulations only came into force on Sept. 2.
"Bill 156 is infringing on our rights to peacefully bear witness," Smele said.
For years, small numbers of activists have protested outside the pork processing plant, where they'd usually stand in front of the truck just before it enters the property while others gave water to pigs inside the trucks.
The activists call it bearing witness.
Smele, who was there Monday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., said she and a few other activists with the group New Wave Activism walked through an intersection when the light turned green as a transport truck waited to turn into the plant.
She said she turned around partway through the intersection and that's when a nearby police officer brought her to his patrol car to issue her the provincial offence notice that carries with it a $490 fine.
The activists did not stop the trucks and did not give water to pigs, she said.
"Charged for walking through the crosswalk, I think that's ridiculous," Smele said.
Two days after the bill became law in June, Regan Rusell, 65, died after being struck by a truck carrying pigs into the same slaughterhouse.
Police charged the truck driver with careless driving causing death, a provincial traffic offence that if proven in court could result in anything from a fine to two years in jail.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2020.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press