A Litigation Article from All-Creatures.org

Activists in the 'Canada 11' Case Sentenced: No Jail Time

From UnchainedTV.com
June 2023

Despite the sentence, Bartosek expressed her resolve in helping animals in need: 'No regrets. I said it to the judge, and I’ll say it for the rest of my life. I could never regret any peaceful action that I’ve taken for animals. No matter what kind of action it was.”

Image from the Canadian facility investigated in the Canada 11 case, courtesy Jenny McQueen

Los Angeles, June 27th, 2023 — As animal rights protesters held a rally outside court, 11 activists (10 Canadians and one American) known as the Canada 11, were finally sentenced by a judge in Quebec. The sentence came down more than three years after the activists entered a Canadian pig breeding facility in 2019 and videotaped the horrific conditions in which the animals were kept. Many felt they should have gotten an award for revealing the hideous truth. Instead, their lives were turned upside down.

Punished for Showing the Truth

During the trial, Justice Marco LaBrie himself said the videos the activists recorded were, “impactful, poignant, troubling, and disturbing.” The activists reported their findings to the authorities, who investigated and gave the pig facility a fail report. That particular operation eventually shut down, which the activists consider a victory. But, those whistleblowers are now paying the price for showing the world the awful truth. Despite the fact that they caused no damage, despite the fact that they did not remove any animals, despite the fact that they wore full biohazard gear, they were prosecuted.

After waiting for more than three years, the Canada 11 have now been sentenced. None of them will do prison time. But, five received a criminal record via a suspended sentence with various conditions like community service, while the remaining six received conditional discharges with no conviction.

Two of the defendants, Jenny McQueen and Natalie Bartosek, spoke to UnchainedTV’s Jane Velez-Mitchell about their sentence. You can watch the entire conversation here, which includes images of the videos taken at the farm:

Not all the Canada 11 got the same sentence

The events leading to the Canada 11 case happened on December 7th, 2019, when the activists entered the pig facility at about 4 a.m. They recorded the horrible conditions the pigs were kept in, and live-streamed on social media what they experienced, begging for mainstream news media to come and show the world. They were then arrested, prosecuted, and found guilty of obstruction of a peace officer and breaking and entering. However, they received different sentences. Jenny McQueen explains:

“Five of us received a criminal record and six of us were given conditional discharges… we actually have probation. We have a small fine that we have to pay. We have to pay minimal court costs and we have to do 100 hours of service…There are about seven or eight conditions that, if we break any of those conditions, then, I don’t know, we get carted off to jail.”

Natalie Bartosek was one of the defendants who was conditionally discharged. She explains what this means for her:

“My sentence was the conditional discharge, which means no criminal record. I am of course relieved for myself. But, for my friends who were convicted to have a criminal record, of course, I really feel for them… I got lucky this time. I still have some conditions I have to follow, but my heart goes out to the five of my co-defendants who weren’t as lucky.”

Living in Legal Limbo: A Sentence in Itself

“We investigated a disgusting pig farm way back in 2019 in December, and it’s taken three and a half years for the judge to now give us a criminal sentence.”— Jenny McQueen

The conditions imposed by the judge during the sentencing will have an impact on all the defendants’ lives. McQueen explains more:

“We just had a lawyer look at some of these conditions, and he was horrified. Our free speech is being impacted. And, travel and employment is impacted. I’m not so concerned about myself personally but for some of the defendants who’ve now got a criminal record, if they want to get a job, if they want to volunteer in a school, yeah, their lives are impacted, absolutely.”

Despite the sentence, Bartosek expressed her resolve in helping animals in need: “No regrets. I said it to the judge, and I’ll say it for the rest of my life. I could never regret any peaceful action that I’ve taken for animals. No matter what kind of action it was.”

The defendants are considering an appeal and have engaged lawyer Peter Sankoff. McQueen said this about it:

“Appealing is a big decision. We’re currently discussing that. We feel that our free speech has been stifled and some of the defendants are extremely concerned that their criminal record was unfair… It’s a big financial undertaking as well. People have been so kind. We do have donations that will help towards the appeal but we would need to raise a little bit more money as well.”

“The whole world just needs to wake up, just wake up, look around you, and see what horrors you are supporting. Open your eyes; use your heart. We’re not asking for much more than that.” — Natalie Bartosek, animal rights activist."

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