Rodeo will go on, but with more over­sight

Calgary Herald - - CANADA -

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.

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