Connect with us


Animal Activists Appeal Break-and-Enter, Mischief Convictions and 30-Day Jail Sentences for Exposing Animal Cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm



VANCOUVER, BC – An appeal was filed Wednesday with the BC Court of Appeal in the case of two animal activists convicted last July of break-and-enter and mischief for their role in exposing animal cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford, BC. Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer received a 30-day jail sentence in October, but both were granted bail pending their appeal.

Friday marked the fourth anniversary of the day Soranno, Schafer, and scores of others were arrested on April 28, 2019, following an occupation of Excelsior Hog Farm in a civil disobedience action organised by Meat the Victims. The Crown decided to only proceed against Soranno, Schafer, and fellow activists Roy Sasano and Geoff Regier, who together are known as the Excelsior 4. All four were charged with more than 20 indictable offences, but Regier’s charges were dropped after a pretrial hearing in May 2022, and Sasano was acquitted at trial.

In the appeal factum filed Wednesday, Soranno and Schafer argue that BC Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven made errors in law by blocking them from showing the jury video evidence of animal cruelty at Excelsior, including footage the activists were accused of exposing. Furthermore, Justice Verhoeven prevented Soranno and Schafer from arguing that the hog farm had engaged in unlawful animal abuse, eliminating any possibility of arguing that Soranno and Schafer believed their actions to be lawful. According to the factum, Justice Verhoeven also incorrectly admitted prejudicial testimony from a veterinarian who claimed that the activists had violated biosecurity protections despite no evidence that this had occurred.

The factum accuses Justice Verhoeven of erring in not staying the proceedings based on lost evidence. It was revealed during trial that the Abbotsford police had both lost and destroyed crucial evidence central to the activists’ case. Three hidden cameras were found at Excelsior Hog Farm in March 2019, along with SD cards containing hundreds of hours of video evidence, some of which depicted criminal animal abuse, according to the Excelsior 4. Instead of ensuring the preservation of this evidence during an active investigation, the SD cards mysteriously went missing while in police custody. Then, in August 2019, for no apparent reason, the Abbotsford police ordered the destruction of all three cameras the activists were accused of planting in the hog farm. Police records show that the evidence destruction occurred soon after Regier emailed the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA)—the sole agency tasked with animal agriculture enforcement—to let them know that the cameras in police possession contained evidence of animal abuse.

Another argument central to the appeal is that Justice Verhoeven erred in his instructions to the jury by not limiting the testimony of Dr. David Dykshorn, a veterinarian who attended at the farm on the day of the protest. Dykshorn’s testimony discussed biosecurity at length and left jurors with a false impression that the activists had put the pigs’ health at risk, a claim that was never proven in court. The threshold for admitting expert testimony is high and the court typically does not allow witnesses to testify to their opinions. The opinion of an expert witness is only necessary if the subject matter is beyond the common understanding of the trier of fact, and must be controlled and handled carefully.


“The prejudicial nature of Dr. Dykshorn’s testimony during trial, and the judge’s jury instruction to use Dykshorn’s testimony ‘without restraint’ in reaching a verdict, warrants a new trial,” wrote Peter Sankoff, the appellate lawyer for Soranno and Schafer, in the factum.

The factum also disputes Justice Verhoeven’s interpretation of “lawful use” in deciding whether the appellants’ actions interfered with the lawful use of the hog farm property. For a jury to convict on a mischief charge, the Crown must show that a defendant obstructed, interrupted, or interfered with the lawful use and enjoyment of their property. In determining lawful use, Verhoeven claimed that the treatment of farm animals at the hog farm was irrelevant, thereby blocking a ‘colour of right’ defence and disregarding important evidence of their motivation for entering the farm property.

The appellants also argue that they were prevented from using the necessity defence, which would have allowed Soranno and Schafer to argue that their actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm to animals from occurring. The appellants further argue that their actions were necessary to expose the animal abuse and neglect taking place at Excelsior Hog Farm, and that the trial judge erred in not considering this defence. Instead, Justice Verhoeven claimed that the activists had a “political agenda” in seeking to publicize the video evidence of animal cruelty, thereby using irrelevant considerations in determining whether certain evidence should be admissible at trial.

“Animal agriculture is an entirely hidden industry, with zero transparency and accountability,” said Soranno. “Because the BCSPCA cannot make unannounced inspections of animal farms without a warrant, their ability to prevent or curb animal abuse is extremely limited. Even when the BCSPCA is provided with video evidence of abuse, like the footage of Excelsior Hog Farm, they still fail to prosecute the abusers.” The Excelsior 4 and other animal activists are demanding an enforcement agency that adequately protects animals and is accountable to the public. The BCSPCA and animal activists are united in calling for the BC Ministry of Agriculture to implement publicly monitored CCTV cameras in all slaughterhouses. “We will continue to fight for animal rights and to hold accountable those responsible for animal cruelty,” continued Soranno.

Soranno and Schafer seek to set aside their convictions and request a new trial. An appeal hearing will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Appellants Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer are available for interviews. Contact Kris Hermes at 604-228-9993 or to arrange an interview.

Additional information can also be found at the Excelsior 4 website:


Photo Credit: Suzanne Goodwin


'ET Canada' cancelled by Corus Entertainment, blames 'challenging' advertising market – CTV News



We use cookies and data to

  • Deliver and maintain Google services
  • Track outages and protect against spam, fraud, and abuse
  • Measure audience engagement and site statistics to understand how our services are used and enhance the quality of those services

If you choose to “Accept all,” we will also use cookies and data to

  • Develop and improve new services
  • Deliver and measure the effectiveness of ads
  • Show personalized content, depending on your settings
  • Show personalized ads, depending on your settings

If you choose to “Reject all,” we will not use cookies for these additional purposes.


Non-personalized content is influenced by things like the content you’re currently viewing, activity in your active Search session, and your location. Non-personalized ads are influenced by the content you’re currently viewing and your general location. Personalized content and ads can also include more relevant results, recommendations, and tailored ads based on past activity from this browser, like previous Google searches. We also use cookies and data to tailor the experience to be age-appropriate, if relevant.

Select “More options” to see additional information, including details about managing your privacy settings. You can also visit at any time.

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading


Entertainment Tonight Canada to end after 18 seasons



A woman wearing a large pink dress holds a microphone and speaks to a camera while attending a red carpet event.
Cheryl Hickey, longtime host of ET Canada, speaks to the camera on the red carpet of the 2019 Canadian Country Music Awards at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. ET Canada will end on Oct. 6 after 18 seasons. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Canadian media company Corus Entertainment has announced it is ending flagship entertainment program Entertainment Tonight (ET) Canada after 18 seasons.

“The costs of producing a daily entertainment newsmagazine show in a challenging advertising environment have led to this decision,” read a statement posted on the company’s website on Wednesday.

“We recognize the impact this decision has on the dedicated team who have worked on the show and we thank them for their meaningful contributions over the years.”

The show’s final episode will air on Oct. 6, with reruns airing in the same time slot on Global TV until Oct. 31, a Corus spokesperson told CBC News.


The cancellation won’t impact Corus’s obligation to produce Canadian content under the rules set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the spokesperson said.

ET Canada’s website and social media platforms will also be shut down. The spokesperson declined to comment on how many people had been laid off as a result, but said the program’s hosts were impacted.

The network said it has no plans for another entertainment news show.


An hour-long, magazine-style show that focused on entertainment, celebrity, film and TV news, ET Canada began airing in 2005 on Global TV, which is owned by Corus Entertainment.

The program has been hosted by Canadian media personality Cheryl Hickey since its launch, with regular appearances by entertainment reporters, including Sangita Patel — a co-host since 2022 — plus Carlos Bustamante, Keshia Chanté and Morgan Hoffman.

The cancellation leaves ETalk, CTV’s weeknight show, as Canada’s lone major entertainment news program.

Andrea Grau, founder and CEO of entertainment publicity firm Touchwood PR, said ET Canada offered a Canadian perspective that made it stand out in the U.S.-dominated entertainment landscape.

“There was this great Entertainment Tonight brand that was going on in the U.S. — we all watched. And the idea of a Canadian arm of it was very special because it could give a different slant,” she said.

ET Canada’s demise comes during a major shift in the industry, she said, as publicists struggle to find entertainment outlets that can shine a spotlight on emerging Canadian artists and projects.

“Even though we share a language with the U.S. and we share pop culture, we are still Canadian and we have a different perspective,” Grau said, noting that ET Canada’s hosts were a mainstay on the U.S. press circuit.

“You see those relationships that have been built over the years of having Sangita [Patel] standing on a red carpet interviewing someone, or Cheryl Hickey interviewing someone. They’re recognizable to [celebrities] after all of these years, too,” she said. “They’ve created such a strong brand.”


Source link

Continue Reading


Canada just had its lowest number of births in 17 years. What’s behind it?



The number of babies born in Canada dropped to a 17-year-low last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a declining fertility rate, data shows.

A Statistics Canada report released Tuesday showed there were 351,679 births registered across the country in 2022, which was a five per cent decrease from the previous year. This was Canada’s sharpest drop recorded since 2005.

Before 2022, the lowest number of births recorded was in 2005, with 345,044 babies born nationwide.


While the number of births in all provinces and territories declined last year, Nova Scotia was the notable outlier with a 12.8 per cent increase in live births.

The biggest decrease was in Nunavut, with the number of births dropping 11.8 per cent compared with 2021.

Canada, like many other developed countries, has been seeing declining birth trends over the past several years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many people’s plans to have kids, said Kate Choi, an associate professor of sociology at Western University.

“Although the fertility decline was indeed part of a larger trend of fertility decreases that have been occurring in Canada, the magnitude of the decrease is larger than what we would have anticipated in the absence of COVID-19,” she told Global News in an interview.

Click to play video: 'Infertility: Shedding light on a common problem'

Infertility: Shedding light on a common problem

The high cost of living has magnified the size of the drop in births, Choi said.

“It’s very expensive to have children and right now, when everything is expensive, it’s very hard for young adults to be able to have the type of lifestyle that allows them to have children, which is contributing to delayed and forgone fertility,” she added.

It’s a concerning trend for Canada, according to Choi, who said decreasing birth rates have the potential to exacerbate population aging issues.

Canada is considered a low-fertility country and its fertility rate has been declining over the past decade.

The latest Statistics Canada data from 2021 reported a fertility rate of 1.44 children per woman that year — marking a slight increase following a steady decline since 2009.

The fertility rate is an estimate of the average number of live births a female can be expected to have in her lifetime, according to StatCan.

As some couples delay their plans to have kids for a variety of reasons, egg freezing and other fertility treatments are on the rise in Canada.

Click to play video: 'More IVF babies born after summer egg collection: study'

More IVF babies born after summer egg collection: study

Lifestyle changes and work decisions are contributing factors, with a shift toward smaller families, said Mark Rosenberg, an expert in geography and professor emeritus at Queen’s University.

“I think mainly the factors we should focus on are first and foremost women’s decisions around the labour force and delaying birth until they’re in their 30s,” he told Global News in an interview.

There is also an increasing number of younger people living in single-person households, Rosenberg added.

Despite the drop in births, Canada’s population has been growing at a “record-setting pace,” surpassing the milestone of 40 million people earlier this year, due to a focus on increasing immigration.

Meanwhile, the StatCan report Tuesday also showed a rise in the proportion of babies who were born with a low birth weight — less than 2,500 grams.

Seven per cent of all babies had a low birth weight in 2022 compared with 6.6 per cent the year before.

Babies with a low birth weight are at an increased risk of complications, such as inhibited growth and development and even death, according to StatCan.

“When we see higher rates of low birth weight babies or higher rates of babies that are born who are overweight, those are issues that we should be concerned about because they reflect on people’s health,” Rosenberg said.

— with files from Global News’ Katherine Ward


Source link

Continue Reading