Animal rights activists may be getting some tougher consequences in Ontario. The government just proposed a new bill that is meant to protect farmers from harassment and trespassing. Ontario Animal Rights Activists would face harsher penalties for trespassing on properties where animals are held if the bill passes. 

The new bill is called Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019. It would increase fines for trespassers in "animal protection zones" such as farms and processing facilities, according to the news release

It would also make it illegal to try to obstruct the transportation of farm animals in trucks in any way.

Fines for trespassing would be up to $15,000 for a first offence and would climb to $25,000 for any attempts made after that. Currently, a maximum fine for trespassing is up to $10,000.

The government is also trying to make it easier to prosecute people for violating these offences. Charges could be laid up to two years after the incident if the bill passes.

Under the current rules, prosecutors only have six months to lay charges for trespassing offences. 

The court could also order restitution for any injury, loss or damage to animals, meaning protestors would be responsible for paying farmers back for any farm animals that they lose. 

“Ontario farmers and agriculture workers deserve to be able to carry out the important work they do without fear for their safety,” Ernie Hardeman, Ontario's Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs told CP24

The news release says that this bill has been introduced in order to "keep Ontario's farmers, their families, agri-food workers and farm animals safe". 

"As farmers, we respect the right of people to protest, however, when it encroaches on private property, endangering the safety of families, (and) farmers, ... something needs to be done," Ontario Federation of Agriculture spokesman Keith Currie told CTV News

The bill would also make it illegal to gain access to a farm under false pretenses, meaning that undercover work at farms would be subject to the massive fines.

Animals rights groups feel that this is targeting them, but legislators are saying that they must protest legally, and not interfere with hardworking farmers and their businesses. 

"People have a right to participate in legal protests, but this does not include trespassing on farms and agriculture businesses or interfering with livestock in transport," Hardemand said.

People responded to Hardeman's tweet on the newly proposed legislation with mixed reviews. 

One user tweeted "great step forward for farm and food supply safety. Long overdue."

 

Others have tweeted that this will make it easier to cover up animal abuse on farms. "What is your government doing to ensure farm animals are not being abused or neglected?"


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