Laura Sentineal wants residents to make it clear to the provincial government that horse carriages should be protected under Ontario's Bill 156.
For the last year, she's been involved with various levels of government about the new protection bill, called the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act.
The bill limits the rights of animal rights protesters from trespassing on places where animals are kept and engaging in “unsafe, unauthorized interactions with farm animals and transport vehicles.”
Sentineal is asking supporters of the carriage company to help out by sending an email to the province, to advise that carriages should be included in the protection and to encourage animal safety zones around working animals to prevent activists from following carriages and harassing drivers.
“The bill is to protect animal agriculture. So farming, transportation and food processing against the very same activists that we're dealing with here,” Sentineal said in an interview.
So far the bill has been worded to protect drivers transporting animals, but is not specific about whether it should apply to carriages that she said are facing the same type of harassment by animal rights activists.
“It's called animal protection zones. And that's what we've been sort of working with, that we could have an animal protection zone, either around our standing area or ideally around our horses. Because we're farmers, were a registered farm. It's just our end product isn't pork or wheat, it's horse and carriage tours and services,” Sentineal said.
“The animal protection zone portion of the bill right now is very vague. But (public opinion is) part of the process where they can sort of hone in what they need to do and where they need to do it.”
She said she's hopeful the province will support protecting all working animals.
“They pushed through the portion about transporting the animals, because they were having huge problems in Burlington that resulted in that poor woman losing her life,” Sentineal said.
“But now, we have those same activists who've all of a sudden become displaced, because they don't want to suffer any (fines).”
Fines associated with the bill can go up to $15,000.
“So people don't want to take that risk, because most of these activists are fair weather activists,” she said, adding that those displaced activists are now ending up in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where she says they know they can get away with it.
“They are coming here, because they know they can come here, they can do whatever they want.”
Activists have continually been in town in recent weeks, protesting various issues including the carriages and child abuse.
“They had double bull horns going down there (Sunday), without any interruption, intervention, nothing.”
Sentineal said she's been very active in trying to support the bill by contacting members of the legislature.
“I presented to the committee, I've talked to a multitude of MPPs, and they definitely want to help us,” she said.
“But right now, they said, the best thing we can do is for all the people — wonderful people — out there who want to help us, is they can go and they can comment on this bill.”
“It's just an opportunity for the residents of Ontario to make their feelings known about the bill,” she said, adding that activists are “commenting every day that it's horrible and it's against their rights.”
“But at the end of the day, what this this bill is trying to do, and this is all we've ever wanted, is just create some balance. So that, you know, we can go about our business without being followed, threatened, interfered with, our guests are not interfered with. They can have their rights — nobody's looking to take that away, but we just we need some physical distancing. And that's what we're looking for.”
She said it wouldn't just be carriages that are protected.
“This won't just protect us, this will protect the Mennonites, this will protect anybody with a horse in public, which is ideal.”
She said anyone emailing should simply ask the province to “please include working horses, working animals in public in this legislation.”
Anyone wishing to comment on the bill can send an email to SecurityFromTrespass.OMAFRA@ontario.ca