This bill stiffens penalties for people who trespass on a farm or ranch
By Diego Flammini
A piece of legislation designed to protect farms and ranches will have its second appearance in front of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food next week.
John Barlow, the Conservative MP representing Foothills, Alta., originally introduced Bill C-205, An Act to Amend the Health of Animals Act, during the first session of the 43rd Parliament.
The bill has been reinstated for the current session of Parliament.
Bill C-205 amends the Health of Animals Act to include tough penalties for anyone who trespasses on a farm or ranch and exposes animals to disease.
Under Barlow’s proposed legislation, a summary conviction can bring a fine up to $50,000, six months in prison or both. An indictable offence can see an individual receive a fine up to $250,000, two years in jail or both.
Provincial legislation, like Bill 156 in Ontario address the issue, but nothing has been done at a federal level.
Punishments like these are necessary to protect farms because activists are acting more boldly, said Keith Currie, first vice president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA).
“People feel they have the right to come onto a (farm) property,” he told Farms.com. “And because farms are considered commercial businesses, people feel they should be open to everyone. But these are also private properties where families live.”
Some of those sentiments also extend to processing plants and the livestock trucking industry, Currie said.
Currie will be one of the speakers and represent the CFA during the committee meeting on May 25.
Other speakers will include Rick Bergman and Rene Roy who will represent the Canadian Pork Council, and Dr. Deb Stark, a former deputy minister of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Coming onto the property is one aspect, but what happens when a trespasser comes on the farm unlawfully is another.
What happens if a trespasser gets hurt? Or if they introduce a disease or invasive pest onto the farm? Or an animal causes damage?
These are all items that require thorough discussion, Currie said.
“What if someone spooks a (cow) and (it) gets out and causes damage on a road or property?” Currie said. “Or if someone is walking through a field, falls and gets hurt? Who is responsible for that?”
The bill still has a way to go before becoming law.
After the committee stage it must pass the report stage and the third reading in the House of Commons.
If the House approves the bill, it will go to the Senate where it must have three readings and pass the committee and report stages.