Bill 156: An invitation to cruelty
When humans are cruel towards animals, they are also to some extent cruel against themselves, and the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates this. COVID-19 originated in Chinese “wet” markets where the spilling of animal blood created the unsanitary conditions for viral transmission.
What ironic timing it is, then, for the Progressive Conservative government to be passing Bill 156, the Security From Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, or what Animal Justice refers to as the “Ag-Gag” bill. The legislation would punish whistleblowing and undercover investigations to expose animal cruelty and unsafe work conditions in farms and slaughterhouses. More specifically, it would increase fines for trespassing to up to $25,000, newly banish entering a farm on “false pretenses”, and prohibit “interacting” with animals without owners’ consent.
Defenders of the bill claim that farmers are entitled to protection of their property as they ensure the food supply. But in the past undercover operations enabled by deceit have resulted in animal cruelty charges being laid, including at a mink farm near Guelph in 2018. And mischief charges have conversely been made against individuals like Anita Krajnc who provided water to a dehydrated pig being transported to slaughter. She was acquitted, but similar humane choices in the future may be punished.
The brutality of the slaughter of animals, harmful to both the animals and those who do the slaughter themselves, is an inevitable part of any society that eats meat at the lowest possible consumer cost. But to cover-up this brutality, out-of-sight, out-of-mind, and punish the truth-tellers is cowardly, not courageous. It is an invitation to more cruelty, against animals and people too.