Anti-rodeo ad runs in Calgary paper

The Calgary Herald has published a Vancouver Humane Society ad attacking calf-roping at the Calgary Stampede — a year after rejecting an anti-rodeo ad from the same group.
The Vancouver Humane Society ran an ad in the Calgary Herald questioning the ethics of calf roping. ((CBC))

The Calgary Herald has published a Vancouver Humane Society ad attacking calf-roping at the Calgary Stampede — a year after rejecting an anti-rodeo ad from the same group.

The $15,000 full-page ad, which appeared in the newspaper's sports section just days before the Stampede opens, shows a calf on its side while a cowboy tries to tie its legs with a rope. The text asks: "That's entertainment?"

Peter Fricker, a spokesman for the Vancouver society, said it worked hard to make sure the ad would be acceptable to the Herald.

"I mean it's certainly in good taste," Fricker said. "There's nothing wrong with it legally. It doesn't even include the word 'Stampede.' So it's very inoffensive and it puts across a strong message."

The Calgary newspaper has rejected similar ads before from the Vancouver animal rights group without giving any reasons.

The ad rejected last year was "inappropriate," Siobhan Vinish, the Herald's vice-president of marketing, said Monday. The Calgary Sun also rejected last year's ad.

Vinish wouldn't elaborate on what changed in this year's submission that made it acceptable.

"We reviewed it, and we judged it to be appropriate for our audiences," she said.

Calgary, Vancouver strategies differ

Two Calgary newspapers rejected this anti-calf-roping ad in 2009. The ad has an arrow labelled 'bully' pointing to the cattle roper and another labelled 'baby' pointing to the calf. ((Vancouver Humane Society))

Last year, Fricker took the Calgary Humane Society to task for not clearly advocating a ban on calf roping. Last week, he praised the Calgary group for recommending the Stampede drop the event. Calgary's position on the event has been unclear until now, Fricker said.

Asked whether she approved of the Vancouver group's ad in the Herald, Patricia Cameron, executive director of the Calgary society, said the two organizations have different strategies.

"Their focus right now is on banning calf roping and we have a much more universal approach," Cameron said. "I'm sad to see these kinds of important questions about human treatment of animals devolve into, sort of, two organizations pitted against each other."

According to an information package given to the news media, the Calgary society "has serious concerns about steer wrestling, calf roping and chuckwagon racing and recommends elimination of calf roping."

The Calgary society's more co-operative approach with Stampede officials has been bearing fruit, Cameron said.

"For well over a decade our position — and our official position — which we have shared with all interested parties, is that we're fundamentally opposed to animals being used in forms of entertainment that pose a danger of stress, injury or death."