By Connor Lynch
CLARINGTON — An Ontario Crown attorney has decided not to proceed with charges against an animal activist who filmed himself trespassing on a Durham Region mink farm.
Charges against activist Malcolm Klimowicz were reportedly dropped on Oct. 22, with the Crown dropping charges but agreeing to a peace bond. A peace bond doesn’t require a trial or admission or finding of guilt, but does require the person to keep the peace and usually abstain from some kind of behaviour, in this case going near the farm.
It’s a disappointing result for a family that’s endured a nightmare, said Nancy Daigneault, vice-president of the International Fur Federation.
“(Klimowicz) posted their names and address (online on his Facebook page),” she said. Mink farmer Robert Schwirtz and his 81-year-old mother, who farm at Clarington, have had endless phone calls and strange cars driving up their kilometre-long driveway. “(His mother) goes to bed every night with the number of the police department by her bed,” said Daigneault. “She wakes up to flashlights outside her window.”
Schwirtz’s sister and her husband run a bed and breakfast nearby that had to temporarily close because Klimowicz implicated it with the farm, she added. As of Oct. 24, the vast majority of reviews are glowing, but a few 1-star reviews stand out. “Horrible dirty place, close by the lousy owners have a mink farm,” reads one. “Situated opposite a Mink Fur Farm. Smells carry. You decide,” reads another.
Alongside the reviews came fake bookings with false credit cards and angry phone calls, Daigneault said. “These days, your advertising and business outreach is all on social media,” she added.
Ottawa-area farm lawyer Kurtis Andrews said that the Crown typically drops cases when it doesn’t think there’s any chance of successfully prosecuting them. But the case against Klimowicz was “as close to a slam dunk as you’re going to find.”
Klimowicz had filmed himself entering the farm at night, and Criminal Code provisions against breaking and entering specifically single out trespassing in “a pen or an enclosure in which fur-bearing animals are kept in captivity for breeding or commercial purposes.” Said Andrews: “The legislature absolutely wanted to address this kind of situation.”
The other factor involved is that the person in question breaking in has to be doing so with the “intent to commit an indictable offence.” Said Andrews: “I would identify criminal mischief as fairly obvious.”
Charges remain against Klimowicz for two other incidents involving fur farms: one near Kingston, and the other near Wasaga Beach, on Georgian Bay.