Rodeo will go on, but with more oversight
MONTR EA L • A controversial urban rodeo will go ahead in Montreal after the withdrawal of a legal challenge aimed at stopping the event.
But organizers of the legal move says it has spurred a new animal welfare oversight committee that will change the way rodeos are observed.
A settlement was reached between the law students, led by law professor Alain Roy, and the organizers of the rodeo, who also run the St-Tite Western Festival.
As part of the agreement, observers will be allowed to examine the animals before and during the events in Montreal, organized as part of the city’s 375th anniversary celebrations, and St-Tite. As well, a committee will be struck to make recommendations concerning animal welfare at rodeos.
The committee will be made up of three animal rights experts, three representatives from the rodeo industry, and two officials from Quebec’s ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food.
“I think it’s unlikely that if we had not filed the request for an injunction the rodeo industry would have invited us to come in with independent experts to monitor their events,” Roy said Thursday, calling the creation of the new committee and the ability to examine rodeo animals a huge win for animal welfare rights in the province.
The committee will be able to study the practices and norms of all the rodeos in Quebec, Roy said, an industry that to date has been self-regulating.
“We have a golden opportunity to get an overview of rodeo practices and evaluate them under the regulations of Quebec’s new animal welfare law (that was created in 2015 and recognizes animals as sentient beings whose rights must be respected),” Roy said.
The rodeo is scheduled to take place Aug. 24-27 in Montreal’s Old Port. Organizers of the NomadFest Urban Rodeo had demanded a $100,000 bond from Roy in the event an injunction led to cancellation of the events, Roy confirmed, noting that it was both intimidating but also rewarding, because it showed his group’s injunction was effective.
The general manager of the Festival Western de StTite, which is organizing the rodeo, said it is unfortunate organizers had to contend with legal action.
“We have always maintained we do things in a way that is professional, respectful to the law and, above all, to the animals,” Pascal Lafreniere said in a statement.
“I deplore that this injunction request may have cast a doubt on the quality of our work and our organization.”
The Montreal SPCA said in a statement its opposition to the events stands.
Organizers of the rodeo events said the committee will serve little purpose, as the industry already ensures the safety and well-being of its animals.