The latest billboard campaign by a militant animal-rights organization that specializes in radical tactics has shocked relatives of the slain and missing women from the Downtown Eastside.The ad by the U.S.-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals shows a young woman and a pig and the slogan, Neither of Us Is Meat.
The billboard appears to refer to the recent disclosure by B.C. medical health officer Perry Kendall that meat from the pig farm owned by Robert Pickton, who is charged with 15 murder counts in the missing women's case, may have contained human remains.
"It's absolutely disgusting," Lynne Frey, stepmother of missing sex-trade worker Marnie Frey, said yesterday.
"I'm so upset. What were these people thinking? Where the hell is their brain?
"This is so traumatic for all the families. We don't even have a burial certificate or a memorial for our daughter. I'd like to see them walk a mile in our shoes so they will know what it's like for us. This is totally unacceptable."
The billboards went up this week in Toronto and Edmonton. Next month, PETA plans to put up 1,000 posters of the ad in Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver.
PETA campaign director Bruce Friedrich said that the point of the ad is to remind people that animals experience the same pain and suffering as humans.
"Canadians . . .should think about the fact that there appears not to be a difference in taste between pig flesh and human flesh," Mr. Friedrich said.
"A corpse is a corpse, whether it formerly belonged to a pig, a cow, a chicken, or a human."
Ernie Crey, brother of Dawn Crey, whose DNA was found recently at the Pickton farm in Port Coquitlam, accused PETA of exploiting the missing women case.
"This is a cheap stunt on their part to use the grief and pain of the surviving families to advance their own interests," he said. "It's offensive and downright disgusting."
PETA, which includes B.C.-born TV star Pamela Anderson as one of its supporters, is dedicated to exposing and eliminating abuse of animals, particularly killing them for meat.
An earlier billboard in Boston called "holocaust on your plate" compared the suffering of cattle to that of Jews under Nazi Germany, evoking a storm of public outrage.
Deborah Jardine, mother of missing woman Angela Jardine, said PETA activists have clearly lost all their compassion.
"They obviously have not taken our feelings into account. But how can you stop it?"
Benita Ho of the street workers advocacy group PACE said the organization will ask for an investigation into the billboard campaign.
With a report from Canadian Press