Protests outside HRPS for Regan Russell

Russell animal rights protest
Protests outside HRPS for Regan Russell
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Thomas Desormeaux

Thomas Desormeaux

Thomas Desormeaux is a reporter and writer who lives close to the border of Oakville and Mississauga. He has lived in the GTA for his entire life and is interested in global events, politics and government. follow on twitter @TommyDesormeaux

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Protests took place in Oakville today after Halton Police announced that they were charging the truck driver who struck and killed ¬†demonstrator Regan Russell in Burlington last month with “Careless Driving Causing Death.”

On the morning of Friday, June 19, an unnamed truck driver hit 65-year-old animal rights activist Regan Russell while turning into a Sofina Foods slaughterhouse, off of Appleby Line in Burlington. Russell died as a result of the collision.

Some accounts of the collision have claimed that Russell was giving water to pigs in the back of the truck when she was struck. Jenny McQueen, a fellow activist who attended the protest today, says this is not true.

“She wasn’t giving the pigs water when she was hit. She was directly in sight of the driver. She tried to get out of the way but she was mowed down,” McQueen says. She and the rest of animal rights group Toronto Pig Save find it disappointing that the driver will only be charged with a provincial offence.

Bill 156

The protest outside of Halton headquarters follows one in downtown Toronto over the weekend. As well as memorializing and protesting on behalf of Russell, these demonstrations are meant to condemn provincial Bill 156.

Russel animal rights protest

Mark Powell, Regan’s partner of 19 years. Photo Courtesy of Toronto Pig Save

Bill 156 was passed this year and prohibits interference or “trespassing” into “animal protection zones.” These are defined as farms or animal processing facilities. Animal rights advocates like McQueen ,however, believe that this bill will criminalize peaceful demonstration outside of slaughterhouses.

The protest began around 10:30 am today outside of Halton Regional Police Service Headquarters.

Today, the group sang songs while they marched in circles in the parking lot. They held a “die-in” where they poured water dyed red to look like blood on protestors to signify the killing of Russell, as well as that of animals at farms and slaughterhouses.

“The protest went well, we had about 50 people,” McQueen says. “It was in honour of the animals as well as Regan.”

Police response

A representative from the police offered “sincere condolences to the family,” at the protest today.

“We also acknowledge that there was no outcome that would satisfy all the involved parties,” says Constable Ryan Anderson. “However, members of our Collision Reconstruction Unit undertook an exhaustive and comprehensive investigation into this incident, which included interviews of witnesses, the video of the collision and a technical reconstruction.”

This is in reference to a surveillance video that shows the crash, which has not been released by police.


The members of Toronto Pig Save and other demonstrators believe that the Halton Police investigation has lacked transparency in a few ways. They also contend that the conclusions reached by investigators differ from the accounts of activists who witnessed Russell’s death.


“We ask the Halton Police how they can reconcile their decision with eyewitness statements at the scene,” reads the protest’s Facebook page. “We ask the Halton Police to reconsider their decision. We demand that the police release the video of the incident.”

“That’s how strong she was”

Mark Powell, Russell’s longtime partner, spoke to media following the protest. He reflected on her strength and told stories about the boldness with which she advocated for what she felt was right.

“What I can say is that, what I’ve known for many years, the world is just finding out now,” he said. “I’ve known about Regan, I’ve known what she was like. I didn’t know about all the philanthropy that we were engaged in, I didn’t have to know and she didn’t have to tell me.”

“But it’s trickling out now and I’m not surprised. Because that’s who she was.”

McQueen says that if anything, Russell’s death has energized animal activists, not discouraged them. More demonstrations are planned soon in both Hamilton and Toronto. For more updates follow Toronto Pig Save on Facebook.



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