By Connor lynch
CLARINGTON — Animal activists are gambling when they sneak onto farms to shoot undercover video. A Western Ontario activist is facing criminal charges for his nighttime escapades, even as a mink farmer faces charges from an unrelated undercover video.
The leader of the Kitchener Ontario Animal Liberation Alliance, Malcolm Klimowicz, was charged with breaking and entering last month. The animal activist sneaked onto five Western Ontario mink farms last year to obtain video of animal practices. He released the video coverage earlier this year. The activist was charged after breaking and entering into the Schwartz family mink farm at Clarington, just east of Oshawa, last month. He was to appear in court July 5.
Meanwhile, a mink farmer is at the other end of the pole, awaiting his day in court after being charged with animal cruelty thanks to a late night video shoot on his farm. A California activist group shot and released an undercover video allegedly on Rockwood-area mink farmer Ted Parkinson’s farm. The OSPCA charged Millbank Fur Farm at Rockwood, 15 minutes northeast of Guelph, with 14 counts of animal cruelty in April.
Parkinson was to appear in court July 18.
Nancy Daigneault, vice-president of the International Fur Federation, spoke to Farmers Forum on behalf of Parkinson. “He’s a very good farmer, takes his responsibilities very seriously and cares about his animals very much. I think we’re looking forward to some of the facts coming out in court,” she said.
Ontario mink farmers have been under attack by animal activists for a long time. In 2015, 6,300 mink were released from a St. Marys-area mink farm, and 300 from another farm near Guelph. Activists returned to the second farm, and, finding no mink, slashed the farmer’s tires on his truck and tractor.
The police can’t break the law to collect evidence, but animal activists who trespass to shoot video seem to get away with it. It comes down to an untested legal principle and the leniency of the OSPCA, said Ottawa-area ag lawyer Kurtis Andrews. As far as he’s concerned, anyone getting a job on a farm under false pretences is breaking the law. But it hasn’t come up yet in court; he’s not aware of a case in Ontario where an undercover video has ended up at trial. Either charges didn’t come forward, or it was settled without trial.
Meanwhile, Ontario’s animal police, the OSPCA, have accepted video sent to them to go forward with cases, even when the origin of that video is suspect. “It’s a policy question for the OSPCA, who we have no control over,”Andrews said.