Several arrests made at commercial meat farming protest in Bright, Ont.
Six arrests were made at a protest outside a turkey farm in Bright on Sunday.
The protestors, part of a group called Meat The Victims Canada, met at the farm owned by Hybrid Turkeys around 5 a.m.
“We could receive fines for up to $15,000 each for being inside this place, but we were willing to take that risk,” Jenny McQueen with Meat The Victims Canada said. “We’re asking people to stop eating animals, it's very easy.”
The group chose the Mapleglen Farm because it was fined $5,600 in 2015 after pleading guilty to one count of animal cruelty.
"Hybrid Turkeys takes pride in caring for our animals. We ensure all employees are properly trained on bird handling and animal care, and refresher training is held annually. We also have an internal program called ‘See Something. Say Something.’ where employees can confidentially report any animal care concerns,” Jeff McDowell, General Manager of the Americas for Hybrid Turkeys said in a statement to CTV News. "We have a zero tolerance for any animal mistreatment within our farms."
According to Hybrid Turkeys, the Mapleglen Farm is not open to visitors and tours due to strict biosecurity measures put in place to maintain the health and wellbeing of breeding flocks.
Protesters planned to film the operations inside the farm, but were met by a line of police officers when they arrived.
“We were very surprised to be taken into custody today, we are peaceful activists, everyone here is peaceful, and we are just trying to [shed a light on] what's going on with our food system,” said David Pereira, a Meat The Victims Canada member.
He was one of the six people who were arrested Sunday.
The group was also speaking out against Bill 156, known as the Trespass and Animal Safety Act. The bill, passed in June 2020, allows the right to peaceful public protest, while giving the justice system the tools it needs to help protect farms, livestock and the food supply from trespassing and harassment. It also implements hefty fines for people who trespass on farms.
“This bill is looking to silence whistleblowers, silence what's happening in and around these places,” Pereira said.
The Ministry of Agriculture issued a statement to CTV News on Sunday.
“Our government has a zero-tolerance approach to animal abuse in Ontario. That is why we passed the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act and hired provincial inspectors to investigate and protect the welfare of animals in Ontario when abuse is reported,” the Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs said in an email. “The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act protects the safety of our food supply and recognizes the unique risks that can result when individuals trespass onto farms and agri-food processing facilities.”
After leaving the farm, protestors moved to Waterloo Regional Police’s Central Division in Kitchener.
Kirsten Little, another Meat the Victims Canada member, was also arrested Sunday.
“They can lock us up, they can charge us, people may stop, there will always be someone else who will stand up for them, there will always be this movement,” said Little.
Anyone who believes an animal is in distress or being abused can report it to the Ontario Animal Protection Call Centre at 1-833-9-ANIMAL (1-833-926-4625).