Charges withdrawn in Ottawa pig-slaughter case

Mark Tijssen fought charges for operating an illegal slaughterhouse and won as the Ministry of Natural Resources withdrew all charges against him.
Mark Tijssen, seen here in November 2010, is relieved after two years of court time fighting charges of operating an illegal slaughterhouse. ((CBC))

Charges have been withdrawn against an Ottawa man who slaughtered a pig and shared the meat with a friend, more than two years after the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources first pressed charges.

Mark Tijssen has been up front about the fact his family has spent generations slaughtering their own animals for consumption on their farm just southeast of Ottawa.

But in November 2009, four separate charges were laid against Tijssen under the Ontario Food Safety and Quality Act after a friend left his home just north of Brampton, Ont., with 40 pounds of pork from a pig they had slaughtered.

Tijssen, who now lives in the rural community of Carlsbad Springs, was accused of operating an unlicensed slaughterhouse and failing to have an animal inspected but mounted a defence based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Charges withdrawn after two years of court time

After two years of pretrials, the ministry chose to withdraw all four charges deciding there is "no reasonable prospect for conviction."

They notified Tijssen in a letter dropped off on his doorstep Monday, which included an apology, for a Tuesday court appearance.

A group of 11 Ottawa-area farmers arrived at the Ottawa courthouse Tuesday representing pig farmer Mark Tijssen. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

He was unable to show on such short notice, so the judge delayed the official dropping of the charges for Dec. 13. She told the court she wanted to make the final judgement with Tijssen in attendance.

Under provincial law, people can slaughter an animal and consume the meat for personal use, but it is an offence to share that meat with others without being licensed.

Results upsetting to neighbour

The result doesn't sit well with the man whose complaint sparked the investigation.

Paul Cormier lives next door to Tijssen in Carlsbad Springs. He said Tyson left animal carcasses in his backyard, a practice that angered other  neighbours too.

"This has caused rifts obviously with the next-door neighbour and other neighbours and it's too small a neighbourhood for this to happen," said Cormier.

Investigator log books revealed in court detailed how the Ministry launched a five-day stakeout in 2009 as part of their investigation of Tijssen.

That included one investigator who hid in a tree house with night-vision binoculars and a camera. The ministry also raided Tijssen's farm.