Pictou butcher Gordon Fraser's plight draws 200 supporters
Nova Scotia Turkey Producers Marketing Board ordered popular butcher to stop slaughtering turkeys
A crowd of about 200 people jammed into a fire hall in Nova Scotia's Pictou County to support a local butcher banned from slaughtering turkeys Tuesday evening.
Gordon Fraser has been slaughtering turkeys in the area for three decades but the Nova Scotia Turkey Producers Marketing Board recently told him to stop or face a fine of $5,000.
Tuesday evening it was standing room only at the West River fire hall as a huge crowd turned out to support Fraser.
"If it means that they come back at me and say I can't kill chickens, or I can't kill beef in my little slaughterhouse — God help the day when they do," he told the crowd.
"It's not right. People should have a right to what they want to do. I just can't see people being turned away from coming to our door if they want to come in it. It's not right."
Many small producers rely on Fraser to process their turkeys, like John Muir, were on hand to offer their support.
"We've been very pleased. He's always been very accommodating and I really see nothing wrong with his business," said Muir.
Now that the board has cracked down, small producers like Muir are unsure where they'll take their turkeys and the clock is ticking towards Thanksgiving.
"We have a lot of little producers in this county and those little producers depend on people like Gordon Fraser to process their meat for them so they can supply customers," said Cathy Lavers of the New Glasgow Farmers Market Co-operative.
Fraser has been slaughtering turkeys out of his shop for 36 years.
The turkey board defends its move to ban the practice, saying it amounts to a food safety issue. They say Fraser is not federally or provincially inspected and is not registered with the board.
Fraser said he was overwhelmed by the turnout Tuesday.
"It just shows that the support that a person can get. It's really something and I'm proud of every one of them," he said.
Supporters say they will continue to help in any way they can.
One supporter suggested an online campaign should be started. Another suggested live turkeys be taken to local farmers markets to bring attention to Fraser's situation.