Abbotsford, BC – Four animal rights activists accused of filming animal cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm in the spring of 2019 just had their jury trial set for June 27, 2022 at the BC Supreme Court in Abbotsford. Their trial is expected to last 19 days.
The defendants—Amy Soranno, Geoff Regier, Roy Sasano, and Nick Schafer—known as the Excelsior 4, face 21 combined charges of Break and Enter and Criminal Mischief. If convicted, they face decades in prison. The Excelsior 4 will also have a 10-day pretrial hearing scheduled for March 28, 2022.
“Our case will continue to shine a light on the criminal animal abuse taking place at Excelsior Hog Farm, and the failure to hold the factory farm accountable,” said defendant Amy Soranno. “We will use our trial as an opportunity to further expose the rampant violence and suffering in animal agriculture, and the complicity of our justice and enforcement systems,” she continued.
The trial date announcement comes as newly disclosed Freedom of Information documents reveal that the private charity BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) is unfit to enforce animal cruelty at factory farms in BC. The abuse being carried out at Excelsior Hog Farm is just one example of the BCSPCA’s failure to take enforcement action, choosing instead to turn a whistleblower over to police, violating the charity’s own confidentiality policy, and ignoring the video evidence of animal cruelty.
In addition to demanding that the hog farm be held accountable, the Excelsior 4 and animal rights activists across the province are calling on BC Agriculture Minster Lana Popham to replace the private charity BCSPCA with a more accountable government agency to enforce against animal cruelty in BC. In the interest of transparency and accountability, activists are also demanding the installation of Closed-Circuit TV cameras at all animal agriculture facilities in BC.
“It is unacceptable and possibly unconstitutional to have laws pertaining to animals, or any other laws, enforced by a charity which is exempt from mechanisms of public accountability and transparency essential to the responsible use of such power,” according to a statement by Jordan Reichert, Deputy Leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada. “Let’s start by at least making those protecting animals accountable under the law, even if the animals themselves are not yet treated equally under it.”
With the trial date announcement, the Excelsior 4 have launched a website to let the public know about their case, the story behind their charges, and how to take action against animal cruelty. To find out more about the Excelsior 4: www.excelsior4.org.
Canada boosts capacity of key supply hub for weapons to Ukraine – CBC News
Defence Minister Anita Anand says Canada is boosting its capacity at a key transportation hub in Scotland, so weapons and other supplies can more easily be shipped to Ukraine and other countries in eastern Europe.
Canadian forces have been responsible for delivering four million pounds of cargo since March, and the Prestwick, Scotland hub will now be expanded into an air mobility detachment with a third CC-130 aircraft and 55 Canadian Armed Forces members present.
“We are expanding the ways in which we are assisting Ukraine and getting military aid to Ukraine by delivering even more aid,” Anand told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton in an interview airing Sunday.
CBC News reported earlier this week Ukraine has written to the Canadian government to request armoured vehicles, howitzers and winter clothing.
Canada has promised to deliver 39 armoured troop carriers, and Anand said she’d be meeting with industry partners in Canada to talk about the issue of supply.
Anand said NATO countries are all trying to strike a balance between arms shipments to Ukraine and maintaining supplies to their own armed forces.
“This is front and centre in my mind,” she said.
Canada must say yes to Ukraine: Rae
Canada has committed or delivered $626 million in military aid to Ukraine since February.
Asked about Ukraine’s list of weapons requests in an interview on CBC Radio’s The House that aired Saturday, UN Ambassador Bob Rae said Canada would be hard pressed to deny the asks.
“It may be a career-limiting move for me to say this, but I don’t believe we could say anything less than yes,” Rae said.
“That’s been my consistent advice to whoever, whoever, whoever is listening. Obviously, governments have to decide the pace at which they can do it.”
LISTEN | UN Ambassador Bob Rae discusses latest developments in Ukraine war:
Some NATO countries have struggled to strike the balance Anand described Sunday, due in part to a lack of robust inventory.
“Since the end of the Cold War, not only have allies considerably restructured their armed forces, they also don’t hold the stockpiles anymore that they used to have,” Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, told CBC News earlier this week.
“And so, effectively, most of what you ended up giving away today comes out of your current stockpile. So this is equipment that you’re actually going to be actively short.”
The calls for more aid from Ukraine come as offensives in both the country’s east and south continue, but also as Russia announced a partial mobilization to bring hundreds of thousands more soldiers into its ranks. Russian President Vladimir Putin also threatened this week that Russia was prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend itself.
Russia also announced and rapidly began referendums in occupied Ukrainian territories.
Anand said Putin’s decision to raise the threat of nuclear war and mobilization were “acts of desperation.”
Atlantic Canada begins assessing, cleaning up damage from Fiona – CBC.ca
People across Atlantic Canada are beginning to assess the damage and clean up after post-tropical storm Fiona swept through the region Saturday.
As of 9 a.m., remnants of Fiona are over southeastern Labrador and have merged with a trough — a long region of low atmospheric pressure.
Fiona spent early Sunday morning moving inland in southeastern Quebec as a post-tropical storm, according to Environment Canada. It’s expected to dissipate over the Labrador Sea.
The agency said winds were at 80 km/h and all wind warnings associated with the storm have ended.
In Newfoundland, some homes were washed away or flattened, others were flooded, roads were washed out and people were evacuated. The damage was most striking in Port aux Basques, where boulders and debris were scattered across the community.
On Sunday morning, CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler said the bulk of the damage in Port aux Basques was caused by storm surge.
The Salvation Army has co-ordinated an emergency shelter for people displaced from their homes in the Port aux Basques area at the local school.
In Nova Scotia, hundreds of thousands of customers were without power on Sunday, and the Canadian Armed Forces has been called in to help restore electricity.
Nova Scotia Power president Peter Gregg said in a statement Sunday that the utility knows “there will be customers who face outages for multiple days” given the damage created by the storm.
Two municipalities in Cape Breton declared a state of emergency. The fastest winds clocked in at 171 km/h in Arisaig, just north of Antigonish.
Ottawa has also approved Nova Scotia’s request for funding for disaster assistance to help municipalities repair damaged infrastructure, and to assist individuals and small businesses pay for uninsured losses
On Prince Edward Island, winds hit 150 km/h and almost 100 millimetres of rain fell, homes and businesses were damaged and flooded, and at one point about 95 per cent of Maritime Electric customers had lost electricity.
Premier Dennis King said Sunday that his province’s road to recovery “will be weeks or longer” since the damage may have been “the worst we’ve ever seen” from a tropical storm.
Residents in Charlottetown are now being asked to stay off the roads and shelter in place after the storm rushed over the Island.
In New Brunswick, roads were flooded, a bridge was destroyed and tens of thousands were without electricity. Residents there are also being asked to stay away from dangerous, storm-ravaged areas.
Bill Hogan, the province’s public safety minister, said it will take time to fully calculate the damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona, but he expects help will be made available to affected residents.
Power outages are still widespread on Sunday morning, with more than 365,000 customers in the dark across the four Atlantic provinces, including more than 260,000 in Nova Scotia.
Officials across Eastern Canada set to begin assessing full scope of storm damage
After hammering Atlantic Canada, post-tropical storm Fiona has moved inland in southeastern Quebec, with Environment Canada saying the storm will continue to weaken as it tracks across southeastern Labrador and over the Labrador Sea.
As of 6 a.m. local time, nearly 267,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were still affected by outages, 82,414 Maritime Electric customers remained in the dark and more than 20,600 homes and businesses in New Brunswick were without power, with some provincial utility companies warning it could be days before the lights are back on for everyone.
Newfoundland Power reported outages affecting more than 3,600 customers, as high-end tropical storm force winds knocked down trees and power lines, although Environment Canada said winds would diminish in the morning.
In an early Sunday morning update, Environment Canada said strong winds continued over the northern Newfoundland, southeastern Labrador and parts of southeastern Quebec.
A wind warning remained in effect for the western part of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, while storm warnings are in place for parts of the Northeast Gulf and Strait of Belle Isle marine areas.
As Fiona continued to weaken, government officials across Eastern Canada prepared to survey the full scope of the damage left behind.
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, along with several members of his cabinet, were scheduled to tour some of the hardest hit areas of Cape Breton by helicopter Sunday morning.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who cancelled his planned visit to Japan for the state funeral of former prime minister Shinzo Abe, said he will visit as soon as possible, while noting he doesn’t want to displace any emergency teams who are focused on important work on the ground.
Defence Minister Anita Anand said Saturday members of the Canadian Armed Forces had begun preparing to respond before receiving the request for assistance from Nova Scotia, and troops will be deployed to other provinces that ask for help.
No details were provided on the number of troops being deployed, but Anand said reconnaissance was underway to ensure they go where and when they are needed most.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2022.
The Canadian Press
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