Halton Regional Police Service
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Media Release

Release Date: September 1st, 2020 - 3:51pm

Originator: Inspector, Ivan LOrtye, 3 District Operations, 905-825-4777 ext. 2301

Contact: Inspector, Ivan LOrtye, 3 District Operations, 905-825-4777 ext. 2301

Location: Burlington

Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020

‚ÄčOn June 18, 2020, Royal Assent was given by the Ontario Legislature to Bill 156 - Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020, which among other things will impose heavier fines for trespassing on farms or the grounds of processing plants and specifically includes a section prohibiting interaction with a farm animal in transportation without the consent of the driver.  A portion of Bill 156 protecting vehicles transporting farm animals will come into force on September 2, 2020.

Specifically the following select sections of the STPFSA are in effect as of September 2, 2020:

  • Section 6(1): Prohibits a person from stopping, obstructing, hindering or otherwise interfering with a motor vehicle transporting farm animals.
  • Section 7: Sets out exemptions from the application of section 6 (for example, police will be able to stop a motor vehicle transporting farm animals for offences under the Highway Traffic Act without being in contravention of section 6(1), additionally, provincial animal welfare inspectors are exempted from the prohibitions under section 6(1) if acting in the course of exercising a power or carrying out a duty under the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019).
  • Section 14(1)[3]: Makes it an offence to contravene section 6(1) of the STPFSA.
  • Section 15(1): Sets out the penalties for contravention: a fine of up to $15,000 for a first offence and a fine up to $25,000 for subsequent offences.

The STPFSA will be proclaimed in full at a future date, still to be determined.

Note: the STPFSA differs from the Trespass to Property Act in that it deems farmers, employees and animal welfare and safety as a key component of the stated public policy goals of the legislation, includes vehicles in operation (with offences specific to interfering with the transportation of farm animals), and enforcement is not confined to private property in dealing with vehicles in operation.

It is also important to note that it remains illegal to trespass on private property, even during a protest.

Citizens have a constitutional right to protest under sections 2(b) and 2(c) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ("the Charter") which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly. These rights may be limited in some narrow circumstances (for example, if a demonstration is inciting hatred against a marginalized group), but they are enshrined in the Charter. The police are generally responsible for ensuring the right to dissent is upheld while being mindful of the need for public safety. Consequently, so long as a protest is being conducted peacefully on public property, the power of the police to control the actions of protesters is limited by the Charter.

Throughout the history of the animal rights protests outside of the Maple Leaf/Fearmans/Sofina processing plant in Burlington, the Halton Regional Police Service has worked with the owners, the transport drivers, and the protesters in an effort to allow peaceful protest but at the same time, to not unduly impede traffic or the economic activity at the plant.

"We are fully aware of the growing concerns regarding the safety of individuals who obstruct the transportation of livestock and interfere with farm animals. We recognize the right for people to protest, but that right does not include dangerously obstructing vehicles at food processing facilities," says Chief Stephen Tanner. "While there may be an opportunity for a graduated educational approach in the early stages of this new legislation, enforcement will be utilized as soon as necessary. We are thankful for this new legislation from the Province of Ontario designed to ensure safety of livestock and also of protesters, truckers and all involved in the transportation of livestock."