The constitutional challenge against Bill 156 by animal rights advocates had its first day in court Monday Oct. 30.
Where has all the seed money gone?
Glacier FarmMedia – In 2017, people in Canada’s seed industry felt hopeful. Private money was flowing into wheat and pulse…
“We say the appropriate remedy for these constitutional violations is for the provisions of the Act that we are challenging and the regulation to be declared of no force or effect under Section 52 of the Constitution Act,” said Andrea Gonsalves, partner at Stockwoods LLP, during her opening statement in defence of the applicants in a Toronto courthouse.
In March 2021, Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, and co-applicants Jessica Scott-Reid, advocate and freelance columnist, and Louise Jorgensen, Toronto Cow Save organizer, filed an application challenging the constitutionality of the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020, colloquially known as Bill 156.
The application alleges the Act infringes upon The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sections addressing freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and the right to peaceful assembly in addition to excessively harsh arrest and penalty provisions within the trespass regulations.
Gonsalves said the case wasn’t about the “red herrings” and interim arguments raised by the province around night raids, farm occupations, threatening the safety of farmers and their families, or violent protests.
“These types of activities were illegal in Ontario long before this Act came into force,” she explained. “None of the applicants here engage in these types of activities.”
Instead, they seek freedom from laws that restrict their speech and make it illegal to utter false statements that do not cause harm to obtain access to agricultural jobs to perform undercover investigations, she said.
“A job which they perform as required, including following all biosecurity protocols,” said Gonsalves.
“But perhaps wearing a concealed camera so they can record then reveal and report to authorities acts of animal abuse and mistreatment.”
The case will continue to be argued in front of Superior Court of Justice Judge Markus Koehnen on Tuesday Oct. 31.