Anita Krajnc case
The Anita Krajnc case refers to the case of Toronto resident Anita Krajnc who was charged with criminal mischief for giving water to pigs in a slaughter truck on the way to Fearman's Pork Inc. slaughterhouse, located in Burlington, Greater Toronto Area. This incident occurred on June 22, 2015, and Krajnc was found not guilty on May 4, 2017.
Anita Krajnc is co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, which was started in 2010. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto. Her doctoral thesis was based on the role of scientific knowledge and public education in building international environmental regimes. Krajnc has been Assistant Professor at Queen's University. She has also been a media democracy activist and a writer. She was an aide to Charles Caccia, former Minister of Environment.
The related incident occurred on June 22, 2015, outside Fearman's Pork Inc. slaughterhouse in Burlington. The protest was undertaken by Toronto Pig Save, a group to which Krajnc, who is described as an animal rights activist, belongs. Krajnc and her group were providing water to pigs in trucks transporting them to slaughter, as they stopped at a traffic island at the intersection of Appleby Line and Harvester Road, through the vents on the sides of the truck. As they were doing so, a driver of one of the trucks, got down and went to her and asked her to stop. Krajnc recited a verse from the biblical Book of Proverbs: "If they are thirsty, give them water". In response the driver told her that the pigs weren't human. Krajnc asked the driver to be compassionate; he said he would call the police, Krajnc suggested that she would call Jesus. The driver then walked away, boarded the truck and drove on. This interaction was filmed by Krajnc's associates. The police report on the incident described the contents of the bottle as "an unknown liquid".
On June 23, 2015, Eric van Boekel, from whose farm the pigs were brought, filed a case against Krajnc. On September 9, 2015, Krajnc was charged with criminal mischief, the penalty for which ranges from a fine to 10 years in prison. In response, the group arranged a vigil on September 24. On October 14, 2015, Krajnc appeared in court for an arraignment, to have charges read to her. In the context of the case The Daily Telegraph reports that under Canadian law pigs are considered property and can be transported without food and water for 36 hours. Krajnc has said that she would refuse to pay any fine and that she was willing to suffer imprisonment.
The driver of the truck stated that the activists were entitled to protest, his objection was to their touching his truck (which may jeopardise their own safety) or feeding the pigs. He considers the charges justifiable. He said that the pigs were loaded an hour before the incident and argued that it was unlikely they were dehydrated. Metro printed a rebuttal from Bob Comis, a former breeder who stated that the pigs as seen in video of the incident showed symptoms of "severe heat stress". Eric van Boekel, in support of his complaint, said, "They don't have the right to involve other people's property and they don't have the right to protest illegally". He stated that rules set by pig breeders regarding food and water were followed by his operations. A story reporting the incident noted that breeding facilities owned by the same Eric van Boekel were charged with polluting the Thames river in April 2007 and fined $120,000.
Krajnc has stated that treating living animals such as pigs as property – "no different than a toaster" – is the focal issue of the matter and that being compassionate to them should not be considered criminal.
On October 4, 2016, Krajnc was arrested on charges of obstructing police and breaching her bail conditions, after a truck heading to the slaughterhouse overturned and a number of pigs briefly gained their freedom. Police had taped off part of the street to deal with the incident, and Krajnc was arrested after ignoring their instructions. Protesters complained of slaughterhouse staff trying to block the public's view of the injured and dead pigs.
Justice David Harris found Krajnc not guilty of criminal mischief on May 4, 2017, judging that a crime had not occurred because simply giving water to the pigs did not constitute interference "with the operation, enjoyment or use of" the pigs by their owners as argued by the Crown. Harris also dismissed the argument that Krajnc's actions created a safety risk via possible contamination, finding that the driver had delivered the pigs immediately afterwards with no mention of the incident because he did not think there was a real risk, and that in the past, despite knowing that the pigs had been given water, abattoirs had never refused them.
Harris dismissed the testimony of two defendant's expert witnesses as unobjective and also found that one of them had been "less than scientific". But he chastised the defence team for making attention-grabbing statements comparing Krajnc to Mandela, Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, and those who had helped Jews during the Holocaust.
The Guardian reports that many online petitions have been created in defence of Krajnc. By November 30, 2015, the petition on Care2 called Compassion Isn't a Crime had 125,500 signatories, while another on Change.org asking the Ontario Court of Justice to drop charges against her, had over 24,600. The Daily Telegraph considers the case "a cause célèbre for animal welfare activists". Another story reports that the case has caused Krajnc to "become a minor celebrity on social media." Instagram and Facebook pages have been created.[A] In a case similar to Krajnc's, all charges against activist Ciara Birley, of Smithfield Pig Save in Virginia, USA - for giving water to pigs after transport before slaughter - were dismissed.
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