Those who trespass on Alberta farms will potentially face stiffer fines, as Premier Jason Kenney has announced upcoming changes to the provincial petty-trespass act in the upcoming fall session.
“Alberta’s farmers and ranchers treat their animals well, and they have a right to run their operations without illegal harassment from militant trespassers. I’ve asked Minister Dreeshen and Minister Schweitzer to consider all options, including legislation, to protect livestock producers’ operations and their families from harassment,” Kenney says.
This announcement comes about a month after a group of animal activists trespassed onto a southern Alberta turkey farm. The group of about 30 demanded for the release of five turkeys and asked media be let into the barn to show what they called “poor living conditions.”
Changes under consideration are:
- Fines up to $10,000 for a first offence and up to $25,000 for subsequent offences for individuals and up to $200,000 for organizations and imprisonment of up to 6 months;
- Amending the Animal Health Act so farmers affected by bio-security breaches can recover their costs and so trespassers and protesters placing biosecurity at risk can be fined $15,000 for first offences, then $30,000 plus imprisonment of up to one year for repeat offences; and,
- Amending the Provincial Offences Procedures Act to increase the maximum amount of compensation awarded by the court from $25,000 to $100,000.
Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, Doug Schweitzer, added they would also be looking at fines of up to $200,000 for the organizations who orchestrate the illegal activity.
“This announcement provides farmers further clarity on what a measured response from the legal system will look like,” says Mark Tchetter of Jumbo Valley Colony. “Farmers now have a better understanding of what government is willing to do if situations like this arise in the future.”
As far as charges go from the September 2nd incident, Minister Schweitzer says it’s still in the hands of the RCMP.
Premier Kenney says he believes Alberta will be the first province to have harsher penalties on farm trespassers; however, he notes Ontario is examining similar legislation.