THE ADVOCATE 835 VOL. 75 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2017 AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW OF THE TORONTO PIG SAVE TRIAL By Jerry Simonelli McDonald’s Corp. v. Steel, (1997) EWHC (Q.B.) 366 (England’s High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division) was described as the “biggest public relations disaster in history”. 1 McDonald’s Corporation brought suit against two Greenpeace activists claiming that their distribution of leaflets describing factory farm practices contained libelous and defamatory statements about the corporation and their treatment of animals ending up at McDonald’s restaurants. The trial went on for years, exposed many of the practices of factory farming and provided abundant negative publicity beyond what the activists would have achieved through their limited leaflet distribution. The legal challenge was perhaps not the most well-thought-out strategy for McDonald’s from a public relations perspective. Similarly, the criminal charges brought against Anita Krajnc in Ontario, for providing water to thirsty pigs arriving for slaughter, brought substantial attention to the plight of food animals beyond what she and other activists were able to generate previously through protests and demonstrations. In brief, Ms. Krajnc was charged on June 22, 2015 for without justification or excuse committing mischief by obstructing, interrupting or interfering with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property contrary to s. 430(1)(c) of the Criminal Code. Ms. Krajnc and the group Toronto Pig Save regularly hold vigils for animals en route to slaughter. The judge in the case ruled on May 4, 2017 that Ms. Krajnc did not interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property. Many animal protection organizations in Canada and the United States celebrated the ruling as a significant victory for animals and animal advocates. For example, Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Farmed Animals labelled it a “historic win” that shone a bright light on the cruelty inherent in Canada’s pig industry.2 The second part of their pronouncement is clearly correct regarding the substantial publicity generated by the trial. However, the first part declaring a “historic win” appears overly optimistic when we look further into the actual decision.
Nov Advocate 2017
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