Charges have been dropped against a 74-year-old Inglis-area rancher accused of refusing to submit his cattle for TB testing.
Bill Mansell was told the Crown had withdrawn the charges when he made his third trip to the Dauphin courthouse for a pre-trial hearing.
No explanation was given, but Mansell said he suspects the Crown realized its case concerning the alleged incident on Oct. 23, 2009 was unlikely to stand up in court.
“Well, we won one little battle,” Mansell said in a phone interview last week. “We haven’t won the war yet, but that’s one little battle.”
Mansell said wet weather at the time prevented him from mustering his herd for testing.
“Before we were supposed to test them on the 23rd of October, I told them that I haven’t got the cattle home and I can’t get them home,” said Mansell.
Federal Crown attorney Christina Cheater confirmed two charges laid against Mansell under the Health of Animals Act for failure to comply with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s TB testing program against William Mansell had been dropped. She declined to provide an explanation for the decision.
“I really can’t get into that at this time,” she said. “All I can say is that the Crown has dropped the charges.”
When asked if the decision had any implications for the upcoming trial of another TB-testing refusenik, Rodney Checkowski, she replied, “Not at all.” Checkowski, who has already been convicted once and fined $1,500 for failing to comply with the CFIA’s procedure, is due to appear in a Brandon court on Nov. 18 on charges over a second alleged failure to comply with TB testing.
Mansell said the charges weren’t the only issue he faced. A quarantine was slapped on his herd in April because they hadn’t been tested, although Mansell said the cattle, which were being kept in his calving yard, were available for testing the entire time. They were later tested and found to have no reactors.
He accuses the CFIA of being more interested in making an example of ranchers who have been critical of the agency’s TB program.
“They want to convict us because some of us have been complaining about what they are doing,” he said.
“And rightly so, because for 30 years they haven’t cleaned up the TB in the elk. They haven’t done their job.”
CFIA had not responded to request for comment before press time. [email protected]
– Bill Mansell