Friday, January 27, 2023

Province announces plans to toughen trespassing laws on agricultural land

The UCP government says it plans to introduce legislation that will safeguard farms from illegal protests like the one that took place at a southern Alberta Hutterite Colony last month.

Activists from three provinces hunkered down illegally inside a barn full of birds on the Jumbo Valley Turkey Farm near Fort Macleod, alleging the industry treats animals disrespectfully to make a profit.

Premier Jason Kenney has previously called the incident “an outrageous act of criminality.”

He was on hand at the local Hutterite Colony Thursday to announce the proposed legislation along with Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer and Agriculture Minister, Devin Dreeshen.

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Schweitzer says the government intends to strengthen the provincial petty trespass act to specifically address agricultural land while also increasing penalties.

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 six months is being proposed.

He says the province has also conveyed to police and prosecutors that issues in rural Alberta must be kept top of mind.

While the Premier and his ministers couldn’t recall any similar instances in recent years, Dreeshen says the legislation will hopefully deter any future events.

He says the group occupying Jumbo Valley was “proud and promoting that this was just the start, that they were planning on more attacks across Canada and especially here in Alberta.”

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