ONTARIO – On June 18, the Government of Ontario enacted Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act. The Anishinabek Nation is concerned that the Act infringes on the protected aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, such as the right to harvest.
“This act is a recipe for disaster that the simple conclusion of a non-derogation clause will not prevent. The Anishinabek Nation opposes the passing of this act and calls for its repeal,” stated Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare in an Anishinabek News release.
The act is primarily aimed at protecting farmlands, livestock and farm equipment from mischief related to activities that support the objectives of environmental and animal rights protest groups. It does this by designating farmlands as ‘animal protection zones’ within which farm owners and operators are granted the ability to use ‘reasonable force’ to conduct a citizen’s arrest on any trespassers. These animal protection zones may overlap with First Nation territories where First Nation people have traditionally hunted for thousands of years. If this legal collision occurs, it will represent an erosion of aboriginal and treaty rights, the release explained.
“We are also gravely concerned with the potential violation of human rights that this legislation will encourage,” said Grand Council Chief Hare. “The act allows untrained civilians, who are personally invested, to conduct arrests without defining what ‘reasonable force’ is allowable in the detention of trespassers. As demonstrated with the 2016 case of Colten Boushie, a First Nation youth who was shot by a farmer in Saskatchewan while seated in a vehicle parked on a farm, an incident where the farmer was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges, this act will only reinforce the notion that the use of deadly force on trespassers is acceptable.”
The act neglects to impose the mandatory posting of signs to clearly display the borders of animal protection zones, fostering deadly conflict between armed hunters who have the right to hunt as recognized by treaty and farmers who have been legislated the authority to defend their farm with any force they deem necessary, the release continues.