Nfld. & Labrador

Pie hit should earn PETA 'terrorist' label: MP

A protest pie thrown at the federal fisheries minister should make Ottawa look into whether an animal-rights group should be labelled "terrorist," says an MP from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Animal rights group scoffs at MP's 'chest-beating'

A protest pie thrown at the federal fisheries minister should make Ottawa look into whether an animal-rights group should be labelled "terrorist," says an MP from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Gerry Byrne, the Liberal MP for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, said the behaviour of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is threatening and intimidating and puts seal hunters at risk.

Byrne was speaking after the group known as PETA claimed responsibility for a pie attack Monday against Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea in Burlington, Ont.

"There has to be a review whether or not PETA has crossed the line now by attacking a federal minister of the Crown for the purpose of public intimidation of an office-holder," Byrne told CBC News on Tuesday.

His comments did not impress Ingrid Newkirk, PETA's president.

"Mr. Byrne's reaction is a silly, chest-beating exercise that is unlikely to impress anyone who has a heart for animals or who is bright enough to spot the difference between a bomb and a tofu cream pie," Newkirk said in a statement.

Shea was delivering a speech at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters when Emily McCoy of New York City stood up in the front row, walked up to Shea and pushed the pie, made of soybean curd, into her face. McCoy, 37, has been charged with assault.

PETA said McCoy is a member of the group and was protesting against "the government's ill-advised sanction of the seal slaughter."

In October, McCoy was charged with trespassing in Charlottetown in connection with a PETA event that disrupted a lunch hosted by the Fisheries Council of Canada. Shea's staff is reviewing security precautions for the minister.

MP sees blow to PETA fundraising

Byrne said Canada's Criminal Code describes a terrorist organization as any group that disrupts lawful activities to commit an act for political, religious or ideological purposes and that causes the public to be intimidated.

He said Monday's incident could be a test case to try to label PETA a terrorist group, a decision that would put a stranglehold on its ability to raise money.

"It would be illegal to make funds, to contribute funds, to what is termed a terrorist organization," Byrne said. "It would also severely restrict the movements between borders, between Canada and the U.S., of PETA members, especially their executive, and it would cause a matter of surveillance to occur of PETA members who would be labelled as members of a terrorist organization."

Shea said she is not daunted by a pie in the face.

"I can tell you that this incident actually strengthens my resolve to support the seal hunt," she said. "If this is what it takes to stand up for Canadian sealing families and this industry I'm certainly very proud to do it."