After another calèche accident, activists renew call to ban them
Animal welfare activists and carriage drivers exchange heated words in Old Montreal protest
As in years past, animal welfare activists called for an end to the iconic horse carriages in Old Montreal following an incident where a runaway horse collided with a car last week.
About 40 people stood in front of city hall on Sunday beside a miniature coffin with a horse puppet inside, which was drizzled in red corn syrup. They held placards saying "Shame on you" and "Stop paying to abuse horses."
"We're saying enough is enough," said Robert Boisvert, a protest organizer with the animal rights group 269 Life.
"What's it going to take to ban this? For a horse to run loose and kill a woman with a child?"
The runaway horse, pulling an empty carriage, rolled onto a car at the corner of Peel and Wellington streets in Montreal's Griffintown neighbourhood on April 20.
Similar protest last summer
A similar public reaction took place last year, when a horse fell on a metal plate on the street, and a photo of the distressed-looking animal made the rounds on social media.
As in last year's protest, activists claimed that Montreal's horses work in stressful conditions, live in filth, and are in poor health.
"It's 2016, we don't need horses and carriages in traffic," said Vanessa Mahoney, one of the people at this year's protest.
"We need to educate the public on what's going on behind the scenes. Animals are not our objects for business. Leave them alone," she said.
Horses are treated well: driver
And like last year, at least one calèche driver showed up to tell his side and debate the opponents of his work.
"The accident that happened was an accident. It happens with bikes, cars and buses. And with us it happens a lot less frequently," said Pierre Lauzier, who has been a calèche driver for 20 years.
"They say horses are abused. They have no proof," he added.
Lauzier says there are more veterinarian inspections by the city today than 10 years ago.
Last Thursday, a day after the incident, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he is considering all options to make carriages safer, including banning them outright.
A report on the calèche industry, ordered by the mayor last summer, is expected to go public soon.
With files from the CBC's Raffy Boudjikanian