By Patrick Meagher
BURLINGTON — An animal activist charged with criminal mischief got a full day of free advertising for her cause in a Burlington, Ont., courtroom Oct. 3.
Anita Krajnc, 49, faces jail time and a maximum fine of $5,000 for feeding water to pigs on a transport trailer last year while on the median at a busy traffic intersection next to Fearmans Pork plant in Burlington. Following the incident, the truck owners at Van Boekel Hog farms called police.
But on the court day, Krajnc and her lawyer ruled the roost. They played animal activist videos and Krajnc lectured the court on the virtues of veganism, explaining that offering bacon to a child is like offering the child a cigarette. The court was jammed with animal activists and her supporters, some sitting on the floor. Krajnc told the court that pigs are more noble than people.
During one video of a transport truck arriving at a slaughterhouse, Krajnc announced that the court was about to see scenes from “the death camp.”
It’s not clear how scaremongering videos of slaughterhouses, including one from Australia, are connected to Krajnc’s charge of criminal mischief but according to her the issue is really about following the golden rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Not sure how that plays out next to a lion’s cage.
Krajnc’s lawyer Gary Grill convinced Justice David Harris that playing the videos was important to understanding Krajnc’s state of mind. So is knowing that she said she shares decision-making with her dog, Mr. Bean.
One slaughterhouse video showed squealing pigs and a worker kicking a pig. Pig supporters in the courtroom reacted as expected at key moments: Covering their eyes and wiping away tears.
Krajnc, a paralegal and full-time organizer for Toronto Pig Save, testified that many officers have been to the intersection where a handful of activists hold regular vigils and offer “water” to the pigs. She said no one has been arrested. In one video, a police officer is seen telling the activist that he has no problem with what she is doing but this is about “pedestrian safety.”
As the day began, this was a case about a stranger charged after approaching livestock and feeding them an unknown liquid at a busy intersection. By lunchtime the case had become an indictment of animal agriculture. By mid-afternoon Krajnc was championing Al Gore’s cause and told the court that because of global warming the world is getting hotter each year. What will it be like in 50 years if we don’t change?, she asked. She declined to mention that global temperature has not risen in 18 years.
Let us recall that charges were laid after a driver got out of his truck and asked Krajnc: “What do you got in that bottle?”
“Water,” she replied.
Asked the driver: “How do I know?”
Truck driver Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf had already testified that he has worked with pigs all his life, knows what a thirsty pig looks like and his load was just fine.
While this court case touches on a number of issues it should not be twisting the definition of pigs from property to people. I’ll concede that point when pigs organize their own rallies, take responsibility for doing chores and clean up after themselves.
University of Guelph food science professor Keith Warriner, in a Sun News column, got it right. The most important issue is food safety, he said. “Would you be happy if a stranger provided your dog or child with some unknown liquid?”
He added that “It’s absolutely essential that (pork) is produced in a closed system that hasn’t been tampered with.”
The CBC online live blog coverage of the Oct. 3 court testimony attracted more than 200 comments, most favouring pig rights, including this from Dax Randall:
“The real crime is the factory farming that produces these poor animals.”
Others hit back. Marni Mason wrote: “It’s not about the pigs which will become bacon in a few short hours. It’s about people running into traffic, creating a dangerous situation for themselves and drivers. Talk about spin.”
Spin indeed. Krajnc got her message out. The next day the Sun newspaper chain ran a story with this headline: “Activist claims bacon as bad as cigarettes.”