did three rural New Brunswick residents sticking up for their
community find themselves slapped with a lawsuit? How did all others,
including you the reader, now that you are aware of the issue, become
subject to one of the widest ranging injunctions ever imposed by a
court in New Brunswick?
About 3,500 people live in
the idyllic, predominately Acadian Local Service District of
Sainte-Marie-de-Kent, in southeastern New Brunswick. Our story begins
in June of 1999, at a community meeting called to discuss the
establishment of the largest hog factory under one roof east of
Manitoba. At the meeting were representatives of the proponent and
several officials of the government of New Brunswick. Two quotes rang
out over the capacity crowd of 500 people…
The proponent, despite
considerable objection from the crowd, insisted that, "The barn
will be built." The other outstanding remark came from a
government official, in response to a mother's question regarding the
disruption that the hog factory was likely to cause to her life.
told her that, if there was a problem in one year's time, "You
can move away."
The tone for the next
seven years was set. Citizens realized that they were not going to be
heard and that, despite their objections, this operation was being
foisted upon them.
Citizens block tanker
(photo: Neil Gardner)
A few weeks later, on
Canada Day, a major car rally ended at the road beside the
construction site of the hog factory. Immediately, the dis-information
machine was cranked up. First, an article appeared in the newspaper
that a break-in and vandalism had occurred at the site and
"protesters" were suspected. This was later proven to be a
petty crime unconnected to the protesters. Then, an attempt was made
to discredit the spokesperson for the Committee Against Hog Factories
by calling him a racist! (At the July rally, he stated that the
government was not supporting local citizens but was supporting
"those from away.")
An operating license, the
first under the newly passed Livestock Operations Act, was granted to
the new hog factory the first weekend in August by then Minister of
Agriculture, Milt Sherwood.
Small pigs began arriving
at the operation in the fall of 1999 and, by early 2000, the full
compliment of hogs were inside the building. Trucks came and went
daily, bringing young pigs, taking animals to market, and delivering
feed. Then came the inevitable - the first manure spreading was to
begin in the fall of 2000.
There had been operational
conditions placed on the license by the Department of Agriculture, but
citizen's attempts to have them enforced were met with government
obfuscation. Citizens notified the government that if they did not
monitor the operation for violations, then the citizens themselves
would perform this function.
The first "spreading
season" began. Huge 10,000-gallon tanker trucks, like the kind
you see delivering gasoline, roared through the village, past the
school and playground with no regard for the speed limits. The trucks
appeared to citizens to be in serious disrepair. There were spills of
liquid manure on the road and, as observed, there were spills of
manure in the ditches at the spreading sites.
Huge 10,000-gallon tanker
roared through the village.
(photo: Neil Gardner)
Citizens decided to
organize another car rally. Citizens had obtained the use of an
abandoned house near the operation. It was christened the "Poop
House" and, soon after, the "Poop Patrol" was born.
one weekend afternoon, the car rally was proceeding to the Poop House
when a tractor trailer truck was returning to the hog factory for
another load of manure. Citizens on the road in front of the Poop
House detained the truck, which was later taken off the road by
provincial officials for being unsafe. Out of this incident, three
citizens were charged in a lawsuit.
The proponent had hired a
private investigation company to observe the actions of citizens.
was revealed in court, the firm had several observers and collected
videotape, photographic, and journal evidence.
Citizens obtained the use of an
abandoned house, which was christened the "Poop
(photo: Marion White)
The court case to impose a
temporary injunction was heard on October 17, 2000. Judge Rideout of
the Court of Queen's Bench heard the case. Judge Rideout found in
favour of the proponent and imposed the temporary injunction that was
put forward by the proponent's lawyer with only one exception: the
Judge removed the section that pertained to gathering and having
meetings because it was obviously against the Charter of Rights.
stated earlier, the injunction was one of the widest ranging ever
passed by a New Brunswick court. It made it illegal to even observe
the operations or the spreading of manure.
In a related court
proceeding, Judge Hugh McLellan, who heard the case, gave a glowing
dissertation on the efforts of citizens to protect their way of life,
decided in favour of citizens, and quashed the injunction. The
proponent appealed this decision to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.
Judges Robertson, Turnbull, and Larlee heard this appeal and decided
in favour of the proponent and imposed a permanent injunction as it
Citizens did challenge the
injunction once, because it was not available in French, but to no
For more information:
of Appeal decision