Two activists convicted for their part in the April 2019 invasion of Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford have been sentenced to 30 days in jail and a year’s probation.
Amy Soranno and Nick Shafer received the sentences in Abbotsford on October 12, with the added requirement that they submit their DNA to a national databank of offenders.
“The offenders knew full well that they were deliberately breaking the law when they chose to do what they did,” Justice Frits Verhoeven said in his reasons for judgment. “It is impossible to feel sympathy for the predictable consequences of their own deliberate actions, or to consider them as mitigating.”
Verhoeven described the incident as a grave threat to public order given that both Soranno and Shafer knew what they were doing, and knew that it was illegal.
“The harm to society’s values lies in the pernicious and misguided idea that breaking the law for political purposes, or higher moral purposes, is acceptable,” he said. “This kind of behaviour must be denounced and deterred in the most emphatic of terms.”
But the duo have appealed their conviction, meaning the sentences that were set to begin October 21 will not be served immediately. If and when they do wind up in prison, Soranno will do so intermittently, given what Verhoeven described as the “precarious” nature of her health (court documents describe this as “a debilitating illness which has no definitive diagnosis” and severe celiac disease).
In the meantime, they’re free on bail, with several conditions including a requirement to report to a bail supervisor beginning October 19 as required; avoiding contact with Excelsior’s owners and remaining at last 5 km away from the farm; and not attending animal farms or petting zoos.
The conditions are on top of conditions imposed following Soranno’s and Shafer’s release on bail following their arrest with four other activists in Waterloo, Ontario last fall.
Those conditions included a “no contact” clause prohibiting them from speaking with each other, one regularly breached in the course of the recent proceedings in Abbotsford.
The conditions don’t impact their supporters, however. Dozens staged a demonstration outside Excelsior on October 12, while the farm’s owners continued caring for their animals.