By Connor Lynch
MOUNT ELGIN — Anita Krajnc says she fed water to pigs on a truck heading into a Burlington slaughterhouse. She was charged with mischief. A simple case. End of story. That is, until the case went to court and the animal activist Krajnc attempted to put animal agriculture on trial. Her lawyer played videos showing what they say are tortured hogs in slaughterhouses. Krajnc told the court that giving bacon to a child is like giving the child cigarettes.
This case should be a wake-up call about the goals of animal activists, namely to end animal agriculture, said the owner of the hogs in the case, Eric Van Boekel.
Krajnc is a member of the Toronto Pig Save, a vegan activist organization that successfully petitioned to cancel this year’s greasy pig contest at the South Mountain Fair in Eastern Ontario.
Van Boekel said that the aggression of the animal activists to push their agenda took farm organizations by surprise. He met with four farm organizations (Ontario Pork, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Farm & Food Care Ontario and Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario) who said that they hadn’t realized the attention the trial would get from the public and the importance of getting the right message out as the trial went on.
Krajnc testified during the course of the trial that “animals should be persons under law.”
Van Boekel said that farm organizations in Ontario need to realize that the activists’ agenda is to “have a vegan society in 20 years.”
Ontario Pork sent representatives to court to support Van Boekel, who was a witness, and reached out to the Crown attorney, offering information about the pork industry and industry standards but haven’t heard back. Ontario Pork also offered some advice for producers and transporters, namely: Don’t engage with protestors, and be in touch with your slaughterhouse to make sure you have a way in to the plant if protestors show up.
“It’s a difficult situation. People do have the right to protest and the right to their opinion, but when it specifically impacts our industry, that becomes an issue,” said Ontario Pork’s manager of communications, Mary Jane Quinn.
Quinn added that a mischief charge doesn’t carry heavy penalties. In this case, it’s a maximum fine of $5,000, six months in jail, or both.
The industry is awaiting the outcome of the trial because Krajnc testified that police were present when the activists had swarmed transports before and didn’t arrest her or other activists.
That has raised concerns that police are awaiting the outcome of the trial to determine how to proceed in these cases.
Krajnc was also charged on Oct. 5 at the same slaughterhouse. Krajnc crossed police lines twice to take photos of hogs that were being walked to slaughter after the truck crashed on the way to the processing plant.
Despite the efforts of the activists to put animal agriculture on trial, the health of the pork industry speaks for itself, said Quinn. “A lot of anti-agriculture groups see this (trial) as more of a symbolic thing. You have to look at what the general consumers are doing. Are they still purchasing pork? There hasn’t been a decline in general sales of pork.”
“There are absolute, real, serious concerns about what’s happening and the ability to impede food safety in this country,” Ontario Pork chair, Amy Cronin, said.
Nevertheless, Cronin said that Ontario Pork would not resort to the same tactics as the activists, which has included harassing farmers and verbally abusing drivers of transports going to slaughterhouses.
“We’re committed to being an organization that is respectful and of integrity,” she said. “We’re not going to fight a dirty fight.”
“That is a fair and sound strategy,” said Van Boekel. “The animal rights people and the vegans have rights but the food-safety terrorists are breaking the law and that’s not acceptable for anybody in society.”
The trial continued on Nov. 1 with testimony from representatives of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario and Farm & Food Care Ontario.