Transcript: Bill 156: The "Ag Gag"? | Feb 26, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and striped lavender tie.

A caption on screen reads "Bill 156: The 'AG gag?' @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says THERE IS A TERRIFIC DEBATE UNDERWAY AT QUEEN'S PARK THESE DAYS OVER THE WELFARE OF ANIMALS ON FARMS. THE GOVERNMENT SAYS IT'S TRYING TO PROTECT FARMERS AND ANIMALS FROM TRESPASSERS; THE OPPOSITION COUNTERS, SAYING THE BILL IS A SO-CALLED "AG GAG," MEANING IT WOULD PREVENT WHISTLE-BLOWERS FROM BRINGING ATTENTION TO ANIMAL CRUELTY. TO ARGUE THEIR RESPECTIVE SIDES, WE WELCOME: ONTARIO'S MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD, AND RURAL AFFAIRS ERNIE HARDEMAN, WHO'S THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE MEMBER FOR OXFORD...

Ernie is in his sixties, clean-shaven, with short white hair. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit, shirt and tie.

Steve continues AND JOHN VANTHOF, THE NDP's AGRICULTURE CRITIC AND MPP FOR TIMISKAMING-COCHRANE.

John is in his early fifties, clean-shaven, with short blond hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt and checkered gray tie.

Steve continues AND WE SHOULD ADD, THEY ARE ACTUALLY UNCLE AND NEPHEW. AND WE WELCOME YOU TWO BACK TO TVO.

John says THANKS, STEVE.

Ernie says GOOD TO BE BACK.

Steve says MINISTER, TO YOU FIRST. WHAT PROBLEM IS THIS BILL TRYING TO SOLVE?

The caption changes to "Ernie Hardeman. Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs."
Then, it changes again to "Security from trespass."

Ernie says OBVIOUSLY WE'VE BEEN RECEIVING A LOT OF CONCERNS FROM OUR AGRICULTURE COMMUNITY ABOUT THE CHALLENGES, PEOPLE COMING IN TO DEMONSTRATE ON THEIR FARM AND CREATING WHAT THE FARMERS BELIEVE IS AN UNSAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR THEIR FAMILIES. WE HAVE MOTHERS COMPLAINING THAT THEY DON'T WANT TO SEND THE CHILDREN OUTSIDE TO GO FROM THE HOUSE TO THE BARN BECAUSE OF THE STRANGE PEOPLE IN THEIR YARD THAT HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE THERE. AND SECONDLY, OF COURSE, THE RISK THEY'RE PUTTING ON THE BIOSECURITY SIDE WHERE THEY COULD VERY WELL BE BRINGING IN DISEASE FROM ONE BARN TO ANOTHER, IF THEY DEMONSTRATE IN MORE THAN ONE, AND WE NEED TO PROTECT THE LIVESTOCK FOR THEIR BENEFIT TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE THE SAFEST AND THE BEST ANIMALS THAT THEY CAN BE.

Steve says IS THIS PROBLEM SO WIDESPREAD THAT IT REQUIRES A BILL AT QUEEN'S PARK?

The caption changes to "Ernie Hardeman. PC MPP, Oxford."

Ernie says WELL, YES. I THINK THAT'S THE... WHEN WE FOUND OUT... IT'S BEEN GETTING EVER MORE AGGRESSIVE AND MORE OFTEN. AND WHEN WE HAD... AND THE WHOLE AGRICULTURAL COMMUNITY CAME INTO MY OFFICE AND SAID YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TO STOP THIS FROM ESCALATING EVEN FURTHER. PEOPLE ARE NOT FEELING SAFE IN THEIR HOME. EMPLOYEES ARE NOT FEELING SAFE WORKING THERE BECAUSE OF THAT ACTIVITY. AND WE IN THE FOOD SECTOR, WE HAVE TIMES WHERE WE CAN'T GUARANTEE THAT THE FOOD IS SAFE BECAUSE OF THAT SAME ACTIVITY. IF THEY GO INTO A FACTORY THAT'S PROCESSING FOOD, ANY FOOD THAT AT THAT MOMENT IS NOT COVERED OR NOT ALREADY PACKAGED, WHEN THEY LEAVE, THAT FOOD HAS TO BE DESTROYED BECAUSE WE CANNOT GUARANTEE THAT WE HAVE SAFE FOOD COMING OUT OF THERE. THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS WE NEED TO ADDRESS.

Steve says LOTS TO UNPACK THERE. JOHN VANTHOF, WHAT'S WRONG WITH WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS PROPOSING?

The caption changes to "John Vanthof. NDP MPP, Timiskaming-Cochrane."

John says THE ARGUMENT REGARDING BIOSECURITY IS A STRONG ONE. AND THE ARGUMENT THAT FARMERS AND PEOPLE THAT WORK IN PLANTS NEED TO FEEL SECURE IS ALSO A STRONG ONE. BUT THERE'S PARTS OF THIS BILL THAT ACTUALLY OVERREACH AND CAN'T ACTUALLY BE JUSTIFIED AS BIOSECURITY. THERE'S A PART IN THIS BILL WHERE, IF YOU ARE HIRED UNDER FALSE PRETENSES, ACCORDING TO THE BILL...

Steve says AS IF YOU WERE LIKE A JOURNALIST THAT WAS COVERING A STORY.

John says YES. AND IF YOU LEFT THAT PREMISES AND PUBLISHED A PICTURE OR AN ARTICLE WITHIN TWO YEARS, YOU COULD BE CHARGED. TO ME AND TO US, THAT ACTUALLY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BIOSECURITY. BECAUSE IF YOU GET HIRED AND YOU ARE TRAINED ON THE BIOSECURITY PROTOCOL OF THE FARM AND YOU ALWAYS FOLLOW THAT PROTOCOL AND YOU LEAVE FOR ANOTHER REASON, THAT'S NOT BIOSECURITY. THAT ONE IS A STRETCH. AND THAT IS VERY PROBLEMATIC IN THIS BILL.

Steve says DO YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT FARMERS HAVE PROPERTY RIGHTS AND THAT THOSE PROPERTY RIGHTS NEED TO BE RESPECTED?

John says YES. OF COURSE.

Steve says WOULD YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THERE ARE PROTESTERS THAT GO TOO FAR AND THEREFORE IT BECOMES A PROBLEM?

John says IN OUR OPINION, WHEN THE SAFETY OF FARMERS OR THEIR FAMILIES... THEY DON'T FEEL SAFE ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY AND ALSO WHEN... TO ME, AS A FARMER, AS A FORMER FARMER, BIOSECURITY IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, AND THAT... YOU HAVE TO TAKE THAT VERY SERIOUSLY. SO THERE HAS TO BE ROOM FOR PUBLIC PROTEST, BUT THERE IS A LINE WHERE THAT PROTEST COULD CAUSE THE BIOVAILABILITY OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY.

Steve says DO YOU ACKNOWLEDGE, MINISTER, AS THIS CRITIC OF THE BILL, IMPINGE ON RIGHTS IN THIS PROVINCE FOR TIME IN MEMORIAL?

The caption changes to "Is this constitutional?"

Ernie says I HATE TO BE THE FIRST ONE TO DISAGREE BUT I DISAGREE. WE SPENT A LOT OF TIME THAT WHAT IS IN THE BILL IS DEFENSIBLE BASED ON BOTH SIDES OF THE DEBATE. OBVIOUSLY WE WANT TO, AS THE TITLE SAYS, PROTECT PEOPLE SO THEY CAN FEEL SECURE IN THEIR ENVIRONMENT AND WE WANT TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE SAFE FOOD, BUT WE ALSO WANT TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE TO DEMONSTRATE, THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE TO GET THEIR MESSAGE OUT AS THEY SEE FIT. AND I JUST WANT TO POINT OUT THAT THERE IS NOTHING IN THIS BILL, AND I THINK JOHN WOULD AGREE, THAT THE BIOSECURITY PART OF THE BILL IS A SOLID THING THAT NEEDS DOING...

Steve says HE SAYS HE'S ON SIDE WITH THAT. THAT'S NOT THE ISSUE...

The caption changes to "Ernie Hardeman, @erniehardeman."

Ernie says YEAH. THERE'S NOTHING IN THIS BILL THAT PEOPLE CAN LEGALLY DO TODAY THAT THEY CAN'T LEGALLY KEEP DOING WHEN THIS BILL IS PASSED.

Steve says SO IF THEY WANT TO HAVE A PROTEST NOT ON FARM PROPERTY BUT ON THE COUNTY SIDE ROAD, FOR EXAMPLE...

Ernie says THERE IS NOTHING IN THERE BECAUSE THE BILL IS DEFINED BY... DIFFERENT FROM OTHER AREAS WHERE THERE'S BEEN SOME CHALLENGES AND SO FORTH. THIS BILL IS DESIGNED TO DEAL WITH ANIMAL PROTECTED ZONES. SO THEY WILL SET ZONES WHERE THE TRESPASSING LAW IS CHANGING TO GIVE MORE ENFORCEMENT TO... TOOLS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT SO THEY CAN ENFORCE THE RULES IN THE ANIMAL ZONES. SO THAT WOULD BE IN THE BARNS, IN THE TRUCKS, IN THE PROCESSING PLANTS.

Steve says LET ME GET TO THE CRITIC ON THIS. JOHN, IN YOUR VIEW, IS IT EVER ACCEPTABLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TO GET ACCESS TO A FARM UNDER FALSE PRETENSES?

The caption changes to "John Vanthof, @john_vanthof."

John says I WOULD SAY... AND THIS ISN'T JUST FARMS, THIS IS FOOD PROCESSING PLANTS... I WOULD SAY ON OCCASION, YES. WE HAVE HAD CASES IN ONTARIO WHERE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS HAVE GONE UNDERCOVER AND HAVE EXPOSED ISSUES. AND THE PART ABOUT THIS BILL IS, IT'S AIMED AT... PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS ON ANIMAL AGRICULTURAL, QUITE FRANKLY, THAN I DO. BUT THIS BILL DOESN'T SAY ANIMAL ACTIVISTS. THIS BILL COVERS EVERYONE. AND THAT... WE'RE GOING A SLIPPERY SLOPE ON THAT ONE. AND IF IT WAS JUST ME SAYING IT, BUT AS YOU LIKELY KNOW, THERE WAS AN OPEN LETTER SENT TO THE MINISTER AND TO DOUG DOWNEY, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, FROM MANY LAW... PEOPLE KNOW MORE ABOUT LAW THAN I DO, A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW MORE ABOUT LAW THAN I DO, QUITE FRANKLY, AND QUESTIONING THAT PART OF THE BILL. NOT THE BIOSECURITY PART OF THE BILL, BUT THAT PART OF THE BILL.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says LET ME FOLLOW UP WITH THE MINISTER. WOULD YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THERE ARE CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN IT IS APPROPRIATE TO SNEAK ONTO A FARM AND EXPOSE WRONGDOING?

Ernie says NO.

Steve says THERE ARE NEVER CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE THAT IS APPROPRIATE?

Ernie says I BELIEVE WE HAVE A SOCIETY WHERE, IF YOU WANT TO FIND WRONGDOINGS, WE HAVE POLICE FORCES, AND WE NOW IN ONTARIO WE HAVE THE STRONGEST ANIMAL WELFARE LAWS IN CANADA, WITH A WHOLE NEW REGIME OF ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS WHO CAN COME IN. IF SOMEONE BELIEVES SOMETHING IS HAPPENING INAPPROPRIATELY BEHIND THE WALLS, CALL PAWS, THAT'S THE ANIMAL WELFARE SERVICE.

Steve says P-A-W-S.

Ernie says YES. AND PAWS WILL COME AND CHECK THAT OUT.

Steve says LET ME FIND OUT FROM JOHN. WE DID A PROGRAM ON PAWS AND WE HAD A NEUTRAL THIRD PARTY, A PROFESSOR FROM BROCK UNIVERSITY COME IN AND GAVE IT A GOOD REVIEW. I WANT TO KNOW. IT'S BRAND NEW. DO YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE THAT IS THE RIGHT APPROACH AS WELL?

John says PAWS PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

Steve says YOU DO HAVE CONFIDENCE.

John says BUT THIS LEGISLATION DOESN'T JUST APPLY TO ANYWHERE WHERE LIVESTOCK ARE BEING HELD OR PROCESSED, SO... IT MIGHT BE A TOTALLY DIFFERENT ISSUE OTHER THAN HOW THE LIVESTOCK ARE BEING HANDLED THAT IS COVERED BY THIS LEGISLATION. SO IF A WORKER IN A PLANT SEES SOMETHING WRONG, IT'S NOT LIVESTOCK RELATED BUT IT'S IN A LIVESTOCK PROTECTION ZONE, AND GOES TO HIS MANAGEMENT AND THE MANAGEMENT SAYS, "GET BACK ON THE LINE," THERE IS... THIS ISN'T JUST... I KNOW THE FARM COMMUNITY IS VERY FOCUSED ON ANIMAL ACTIVISTS. I UNDERSTAND THAT. I'M A FARMER. BUT WHEN YOU CREATE A LAW, IT JUST DOESN'T COVER... IT'S NOT... NOWHERE DOES IT SAY THAT IT ONLY APPLIES TO ANIMAL ACTIVISTS. AND THAT'S WHERE IT'S A BIT OF AN OVERREACH.

Steve says YOU KNOW THE EXPRESSION, TO USE A SLEDGEHAMMER TO KILL A GNAT. IS THAT GOING ON HERE?

Ernie says THERE'S NOTHING IN THIS BILL AGAINST WHISTLEBLOWERS. AS JOHN MENTIONED, IF THE EMPLOYEE THINKS SOMETHING IS WRONG, THE LAW PROTECTS THEM FROM BLOWING THE WHISTLE. NOW, IF THAT PERSON CAME IN UNDER FALSE PRETENSES, THEN THERE MIGHT BE SOME QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE, BUT THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT THE WHISTLE BLOWING OR PAWS OR CFIA.

Steve says THE FOOD INSPECTION AUTHORITY... YOU DO KNOW A LOT OF THIS WHISTLE BLOWING HAPPENS BECAUSE PEOPLE ENTER A FACILITY UNDERCOVER OR ON THE ASSUMPTION OF ASSUMING ANOTHER IDENTITY OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. WILL PEOPLE STILL BE ALLOWED TO DO THAT WITHOUT BEING PUNISHED?

Ernie says WHEN OUR POLICE FORCE IS OUT TO TRY AND CATCH CRIMINALS, THEY'RE NOT ALLOWED TO BREAK THE LAW TO DO THAT, BECAUSE WHEN THEY GOT TO COURT, THAT WOULDN'T STAND UP. AND I BELIEVE... OUR AGRICULTURE COMMUNITY HAS THAT SAME RIGHT. THEY NEED TO BE ABLE TO FEEL COMFORTABLE IN THEIR HOME, HAVE A SAFE WORK ENVIRONMENT. WE HAVE PEOPLE ON FARMS NOW CALLING US AND TELLING US THAT THEIR EMPLOYEES DON'T FEEL SAFE TO COME TO WORK BECAUSE OF THE PROCESS THAT HAPPENED JUST A WEEK OR SO AGO AT A DUCK FARM. YOU MAY HAVE HEARD ABOUT IT, STEVE. THAT THEY CAME IN THERE. I GOT A LETTER FROM THEM EXPLAINING WHAT HAPPENED...

Steve says WHAT TOWN DID THAT HAPPEN IN AGAIN? I'M TRYING TO REMEMBER.

Ernie says IN STOUFFVILLE.

Steve says STOUFFVILLE. AN HOUR NORTH OF HERE.

Ernie says THEY CAME IN AND DISTURBED THE ANIMALS. THE PROTOCOL SAID THEY NEVER SENT MORE THAN ONE PERSON INTO THE LOOSE HOUSING BARN. THIS IS A FOURTH GENERATION DUCK FARM. IT'S THE NUMBER ONE DUCK PRODUCER IN CANADA. AND THEY PRODUCE THEM... I WAS ON A TOUR THERE JUST A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO BECAUSE OF HOW WELL THEY DO, AND ALL THE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY BUILT INTO THEIR OPERATIONS. THEY COME IN WITH THE CAMERAS AND THE LIGHTS AND A WHOLE GROUP OF PEOPLE, AND ALL THE DUCKS GET RUSHED INTO A CORNER AND NOW THEY'RE ALL UNDER VETERINARY CARE BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW WHETHER THEY'RE GOING TO SURVIVE BECAUSE...

Steve says LET ME ASK JOHN IF HE WANTS TO COMMENT.

John says I'VE TOURED THAT BARN AND THAT WOULD BE COVERED UNDER THE FIRST PART OF THE ACT WHERE THEY'RE IN, THEY'RE TRESPASSING. BUT THE OTHER PART WHERE YOU COULD BE CHARGED TWO YEARS AFTER THE FACT, THAT WON'T HELP THOSE DUCKS. AND THE THING I'M MOST WORRIED ABOUT IS AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PROCESSING DOES A VERY GOOD JOB IN THIS PROVINCE, AND THE FIRST PART OF THE ACT THEY NEED. BUT IF THE SECOND PART OF THE ACT GETS CHALLENGED AND GETS BEAT IN COURT, THE MINISTER'S REPUTATION ISN'T REALLY DAMAGED BUT AGRICULTURE IS GOING TO HAVE TO TRY AND REPAIR THE DAMAGE OF THIS OVERREACH WHEN THEY'RE ACTUALLY DOING A GOOD JOB.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says IS THERE NO QUESTION IN YOUR MIND BUT THAT THOSE PROVISIONS OF THE BILL WHICH, IN YOUR VIEW, WOULD STIFLE FREE SPEECH OR FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY, THOSE WILL BE CHALLENGED IN COURT?

John says JUDGING ON THAT LETTER... I THINK THE WHOLE BILL COULD BE CHALLENGED IN COURT, BUT I'M NOT A LAWYER. BUT I BELIEVE ANYTHING THAT PERTAINS TO BIOSECURITY IS PRETTY SOLID. BUT WHEN YOU SEE THAT OPEN LETTER FROM OVER 30...

Steve says A BUNCH OF LEGAL SCHOLARS.

John says SAYING THAT THIS SHOULD BE CHALLENGED WHEN SIMILAR LEGISLATION HAS BEEN CHALLENGED IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS, PARTICULARLY IN THE UNITED STATES, THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE THAT THIS WILL BE... I THINK THE IDEA THAT IT WILL BE CHALLENGED, I'M 98 PERCENT SURE. WHETHER THE CHALLENGE WILL SUCCEED...

Steve says THAT'S ANOTHER STORY.

John says THAT'S A RISK I'M NOT WILLING TO TAKE.

Ernie says I THINK WE ALL NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE PRESENT TRESPASSING LAW HAS THE SAME AUTHORITY, ONLY IT'S FROM SIX MONTHS TO TWO YEARS. THE REASON OF COURSE FOR THE LENGTH IS WE BELIEVE THAT THERE HAS TO BE DETERRENT FROM DOING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. THE RISK IS NOT THE LENGTH OF TIME AND HOW LONG IT TAKES THEM TO COME UP WITH IT. THE RISK IS THAT THEY'RE GO IN THERE, FIND NOTHING, BUT THEY STILL CAUSE DAMAGE TO THE LIVESTOCK IN THAT BARN. WE WANT TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO DETER THEM FROM DOING THAT AND WE BELIEVE THAT PART WILL... WE BELIEVE IT'S CONSTITUTIONAL OR WE WOULDN'T BE PUTTING IT FORWARD.

Steve says YOU CHECKED WITH THE GOVERNMENT'S LAWYERS ON THIS AND YOU THINK YOU'RE ON SOLID LEGAL GROUND.

Ernie says I HAD THE HELP WITH MY MINISTRY TO PREPARE WHAT WE THINK WILL BE A BILL THAT WILL BALANCE THE NEEDS OF BOTH SIDES TO MAKE SURE THAT WE KEEP OUR FARMERS SAFE, WE KEEP OUR FOOD SAFE, AND WE DON'T TAKE AWAY FROM THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE TO PROTEST IN A LEGAL MANNER.

Steve says LET ME ASK JOHN ABOUT THIS POINT. THE FINES FOR VIOLATING THIS LAW, SHOULD IT EVENTUALLY PASS THE LEGISLATURE... I SHOULDN'T CALL IT A LAW YET, IT'S STILL JUST A BILL... THE FINE IS 15,000 dollars ON THE FIRST OFFENCE AND 25,000 dollars FOR SUBSEQUENT OFFENCES.

John says UP TO, YEAH.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THOSE NUMBERS?

John says ON THE ACTUAL PARTS OF THE BILL THAT WE BELIEVE ARE VALID, I DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM.

Steve says YOU'RE OKAY WITH THAT.

John says ON THE PARTS OF THE BILL THAT WE DON'T BELIEVE ARE VALID, THAT IF YOU WORK AT A FACILITY AND YOU WORK THERE FOR A YEAR, YOU FOLLOW ALL THE BIOSECURITY PROTOCOLS, AND THEN A YEAR AFTER YOU PUBLISH A PICTURE THAT THE OWNER OF THE PROCESSING FACILITY DOESN'T LIKE, THAT YOU CAN BE CHARGED AND FINED 15,000 dollars, NO, I DON'T BELIEVE THAT'S VALID.

Steve says ARE YOU PREPARED TO COMPROMISE ON THOSE NUMBERS?

Ernie says I DON'T THINK THERE'S A DEBATE ABOUT THE NUMBERS.

Steve says HE JUST SAID THERE WAS.

Ernie says I THINK JOHN SAID THE MAXIMUM, AND OBVIOUSLY IT ISN'T THE BILL THAT GIVES OUT THE MAXIMUM, IT'S THE JUDGE THAT HEARS THE CASE. I THINK THE CHALLENGE... OR THE SUBJECT THAT JOHN IS TALKING ABOUT, I THINK IT'S QUITE LIKELY THAT IF THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES WERE IN FRONT OF A JUDGE, THE JUDGE WOULD DECIDE WHETHER THOSE NUMBERS ARE RIGHT OR WRONG. IT'S A MAXIMUM NUMBER. I THINK... AGAIN, I THINK IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO MAKE SURE... I HOPE THAT NO ONE EVER HAS TO GET CHARGED OR HAS TO PAY THAT FINE, OF ANY OF IT. BUT WE HAVE TO HAVE IT IN PLACE TO MAKE SURE THE DETERRENT IS THERE SO THEY DON'T JUST DO IT. I REALLY BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE AN AWFUL LOT OF PEOPLE THAT ARE INVOLVED IN THE PROTESTING THAT HAVE NO IDEA THE RISK THAT THEY'RE PUTTING OUR LIVESTOCK TO AND THE RISK THAT THEY'RE PUTTING TO OUR FOOD SAFETY.

Steve says DO YOU BELIEVE THAT, JOHN VANTHOF?

John says I BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE THEIR VIEWS. I ALSO BELIEVE THAT WE ARE LOCKED IN A BATTLE OF WILLS AND MINDS, OF PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN ANIMAL AGRICULTURE, AND PEOPLE WHO ABSOLUTELY WILL DO EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO STOP IT. AND I'M GOING TO BE UPFRONT. I BELIEVE IN ANIMAL AGRICULTURE. I'M A FARMER. BUT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO VERY STRONGLY BELIEVE THE OTHER SIDE, AND I'M NOT SURE THAT THEY WILL BE DETERRED BY THIS LEGISLATION.

Steve says IN SPITE OF THE SIZE OF THE FINES AND SO ON.

Ernie says IF I COULD ON THAT, ON THE SIZE AND THE FINES? THERE'S ANOTHER PART OF THE BILL THAT I THINK IS VERY IMPORTANT, THAT WE BELIEVE THAT THE JUDGES SHOULD HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO ASK THE PEOPLE WHO CAUSED THE CHALLENGE, IF THEY DO GO IN AND CONTAMINATE, THAT THEY COULD BE CHARGED THE COST OF DOING THAT.

Steve says YUP.

Ernie says WHEN PEOPLE, WHEN THE SAME PEOPLE THAT JOHN JUST TALKED ABOUT, WHEN THESE PEOPLE REALIZE HOW MUCH THAT COULD BE, I DON'T BELIEVE THEY KNOW THAT TODAY, BUT I THINK IF THEY STARTED LOOKING AT HOW MUCH THAT COULD BE, I THINK THAT WOULD BE A REAL DETERRENT FOR MAKING IT A BIG CROWD FOR THIS NEXT DEMONSTRATION.

John says IF I COULD ADD SOMETHING?

Steve says PLEASE.

John says WE'RE TALKING ABOUT JUDGES. ONE OF THE ASPECTS OF THE BILL, AND IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY AT THE BILL, IF PROTESTERS COME ON THE FARM, ASK THEM TO LEAVE. IF THEY DON'T, ASK THEM FOR IDENTIFICATION. AND THEN YOU CAN PROCEED TO CITIZEN'S ARREST. AND YOU CAN USE RESPONSIBLE FORCE. THE ISSUE IS: WHAT'S RESPONSIBLE FORCE? THEY'RE GOING TO SAY SECTION 23 OF THE FEDERAL CRIMINAL CODE. FINE. AND THE MINISTER CAN FIND THAT AND I CAN FIND THAT AND I'M SURE YOU CAN FIND THAT, BUT IN A HEATED SITUATION ON A FARM, WITH VERY DETERMINED PROTESTERS, DEDICATED, AND WITH FARMERS FEELING THREATENED AND... I WAS GOING TO SAY MY UNCLE, BUT THE MINISTER (LAUGHING) THE MINISTER SAID THEY WERE FEELING THREATENED, AND THERE'S NO ONE AROUND.

Steve says COULD GET UGLY.

John says IT COULD GET UGLY AND WHAT COULD HAPPEN IS THE FARM FAMILY, THE FARMER, WHO... AND WHO IS PROVOKED IN GOING BEYOND WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE, HE OR SHE MIGHT END UP BEING THE FIRST ONE IN COURT. AND I'M STILL LOOKING... I'M STILL LOOKING FOR WHO IS GOING TO RUN THE EDUCATION PROCESS TO GUARANTEE THAT ALL FARMERS KNOW WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE BECAUSE THE ANIMAL RIGHTS FOLKS WILL BE CONDUCTING THOSE EDUCATION SESSIONS...

Ernie says AGAIN, NO DISRESPECT TO MY GOOD FRIEND, BUT THE BILL DOES EXACTLY WHAT THE PRESENT TRESPASSING ACT SAYS: USING REASONABLE FORCE. THAT'S THERE ALREADY. THE IDENTIFICATION OF WHAT'S REASONABLE IS NOT THERE. WHEN I TALK TO PEOPLE, AND I SPENT ALL LAST WEEK GOING ACROSS THE PROVINCE TALKING TO PEOPLE ABOUT THE BILL, AND WHEN THEY SAY, WHAT MORE... WHAT CAN WE ACTUALLY DO? NOTHING MORE THAN YOU CAN TODAY. AND IF ASKING FOR MY ADVICE, YOU DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING UNLESS YOU HAVE TO TO DEFEND YOURSELF UNTIL LAW ENFORCEMENT GETS THERE. THAT'S THE WHOLE THING. BUT THOSE AREN'T CHANGED FROM THE TRESPASS ACT...

Steve says I GET YOU. WE HAVE A FEW MINUTES TO GO AND I WANT TO UNDERSTAND WHERE THINGS ARE AT RIGHT NOW. THIS BILL HAS PASSED SECOND READING?

The caption changes to "Legislative timeline."

Ernie says IT'S PRESENTLY... THEY'RE DEBATING WHILE WE'RE SPEAKING.

Steve says WHERE IS IT AT NOW?

Ernie says AT SECOND READING DEBATE.

Steve says HE HAS A MAJORITY GOVERNMENT. HE DOESN'T HAVE TO CHANGE ONE COMMA, ONE PERIOD, ONE PARAGRAPH IN THIS BILL IF HE WANTED TO. HE CAN GET IT THROUGH.

John says THAT'S RIGHT.

Steve says IF YOU WERE ABLE TO GO TO HIM ONE DAY AND SAY, UNCLE ERNIE, INDULGE ME, WHAT'S ONE THING YOU'D LIKE HIM TO BEVEL HIS EDGES?

John says I WOULD LIKE... WE WOULD LIKE THE GOVERNMENT TO PULL THE PART OF THE BILL THAT COULD BE DEEMED AS ANTI-WHISTLEBLOWER BECAUSE THAT WILL BE CHALLENGED IN COURT. WHETHER IT WINS OR LOSES IN COURT, FARMERS AND FOOD PROCESSORS WHO ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING NOW WILL BE BATTLING... IF THEY'RE DOING THE RIGHT THING NOW, WHY DO YOU HAVE TO OVERREACH? AND THE GOVERNMENT... IT'S NOT A SURPRISE THAT THE GOVERNMENT TRIES TO OVERREACH, BUT FOR FARM ORGANIZATIONS, FOR FARMERS, THEY DON'T NEED THAT PART. THEY'RE ALREADY DOING A GOOD JOB.

Steve says CAN YOU IMAGINE, EVEN THOUGH YOU DON'T HAVE TO, YOU HAVE A MAJORITY, IN ORDER TO GET BUY-IN, COMPROMISING ON THE LANGUAGE IN THERE RIGHT NOW THAT HE FINDS OFFENSIVE?

Ernie says THE REASON YOU HAVE SECOND READING DEBATE AND THEN COMMITTEE IS WHAT YOU HEAR DURING SECOND READING DEBATE AND WHAT YOU HEAR IN CONSULTATION GIVES YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE SOME CHANGES TO THE BILL WHEN YOU GET TO COMMITTEE. HAVING SAID THAT, WE PREPARED THE BILL TO WHAT WE BELIEVE IS THE RIGHT BALANCE BETWEEN THE NEEDS OF ALL THE PEOPLE INVOLVED AND WE BELIEVE THAT THAT'S WHAT IT IS.

Steve says WOULDN'T THE BILL HAVE MORE LEGITIMACY IF YOU WERE ABLE TO GET THE OPPOSITION ON SIDE?

Ernie says WELL, I'M MORE... I'M MORE CONCERNED ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT WE END UP GETTING A BILL THAT THE INDUSTRY IS SATISFIED THAT THEY CAN BE SAFE IN THEIR HOMES, THAT THEY CAN LET THE CHILDREN GO PLAY IN THE YARD WITHOUT WORRY, AND THERE'S LESS RISK TO THEIR ANIMALS AND THAT WE ACTUALLY HAVE THE SAFEST FOOD IN THE WORLD. WE HAVE TO HAVE A BILL THAT DOES THAT. I BELIEVE THAT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT JOHN IS TALKING ABOUT HAVE SOME MERIT, BUT I ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IS WE HAVE TO BUILD DETERRENT IN IT THAT PEOPLE DON'T PUT THE ANIMALS AT RISK. I THINK WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THE WHISTLEBLOWER. I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT THE BILL ALLOWS THE WHISTLEBLOWERS, IF THEY WORK THERE, IF THEY SEE SOMETHING'S WRONG, THE RULES ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. THEY DON'T GET THAT RIGHT FROM THE BILL, THEY GET THAT RIGHT UNDER THE CRIMINAL CODE.

Steve says MINISTER... IS HE LIKE THIS AT THE THANKSGIVING TABLE AS WELL, FILIBUSTERING AWAY?

John says WORSE, WORSE.

Steve says LAST WORD TO YOU.

John says I'M WITH THE MINISTER ON PROTECTING FARMERS, PROTECTING THE INDUSTRY. BUT ONE THING THAT THE MINISTER FAILED TO HAVE SAID IS I ALSO WANT TO PROTECT THE CONFIDENCE OF CONSUMERS BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY FARMERS ARE IN A BATTLE FOR THE HEARTS, MINDS OF CONSUMERS, AND ANYTHING THAT HURTS, THAT HAS ANY POTENTIAL TO HURT THAT CONFIDENCE IN THE END IS GOING TO HURT FARMERS.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin."

Steve says UNDERSTOOD. GENTLEMEN, I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR TRANSPORTING YOUR DEBATE FROM THE LEGISLATURE TO OUR STUDIO AND SHARING YOUR VIEWS WITH OUR AUDIENCE WHO I THINK NOW KNOW A LOT MORE ABOUT IT. ERNIE HARDEMAN, THE ONTARIO MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE. JOHN VANTHOF IS HIS AGRICULTURE CRITIC FROM THE NDP.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Ernie says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, STEVE. IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE. AND I THANK JOHN FOR WORKING WITH ME IN GETTING THIS BILL THIS FAR. WE DIDN'T AGREE WITH EVERYTHING BUT...

john says HE'S STILL THE REASON I'M NDP.

[LAUGHTER]

Watch: Bill 156: The "Ag Gag"?