Injunction dropped, rodeo to go ahead in Montreal this summer

A Montreal law professor and his students, who took legal action to try to stop a rodeo from coming to the city this summer, have withdrawn their request for an injunction.

Law students, professor who filed court papers can select 2 animal inspectors to be present at urban rodeo

NomadFest Urban Rodeo will run from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 at the Old Port. Events will feature riders on bucking horses and bulls. (Radio-Canada)

Montreal's controversial urban rodeo is set to go ahead in August, now that a legal challenge has been dropped.

Alain Roy, a Université de Montréal law professor, and his students have withdrawn their request for an injunction.

The animal rights activists and rodeo organizers reached an agreement out of court.

The terms of that agreement include the creation of an advisory committee on the rodeo industry, which will be made up of:

  • Three animal rights experts.
  • Three representatives from the rodeo industry.
  • Two people from Quebec's agriculture, fisheries and food ministry (MAPAQ).

Roy will also be able to choose two experts who will inspect the animals at the Montreal and St-Tite rodeos. Both are run by the same organization. Those experts will report to the advisory committee.

The NomadFest Urban Rodeo will take place in August as part of Montreal's 375th anniversary celebrations. Events will feature riders on bucking horses and bulls.

"For the first time, we will be able to send experts of our choice to the rodeo sites — a veterinarian and a behaviourist — who will have access to the animals freely and who will be able to produce a totally independent report," Roy said in a statement issued Wednesday.

"This is a significant step forward. For the first time, representatives of the world of animal rights will be able to make the voices of the animals heard."

'The subject of a threat'

But Roy admitted to CBC Montreal that at times he felt pressured.

He said TKLN, the promoters of the rodeo festival, "were asking for a $100,000 bond. Their lawyer also told me that I would be held responsible for the damages caused to his clients if I were to ever win an interlocutory injunction, which would have led to a cancellation of the events of the Montreal rodeo" Roy said.

"Obviously, I won't deny that it's not fun to be the subject of such a threat."

Roy said it shows he had a solid legal case.

Should never have gone to court, organizers say

Sylvain Bourgeois, the rodeo director for NomadFest and the Festival Western of St-Tite, said the committee won't change a thing.

"The reality is, besides opinions and allegations they were making, they didn't have a case. Not at all," he said in an interview on CBC Montreal's Daybreak Thursday.

Bourgeois said both organizations pride themselves on what he called high standards of care for the animals. He said that bucking horses and cows are raised to participate in rodeos, and compared them to athletes.

"Being around animals all my life, I know they take pride in it."

In a statement, the festival's executive director Pascal Lafrenière said "it's a pity that the entire rodeo industry, but also all events with animals at the heart of its festivities, their employees, partners and volunteers have had to live this uncertainty. We have always claimed that we do things in a professional, respectful way according to the laws, but especially to rodeo animals. I regret that this request for an injunction may have cast doubt on the quality of our work and our organization."

As part of the out-of-court agreement, both Roy and the SPCA are bound not to seek any further legal action to prevent the Montreal and St-Tite rodeos from taking place.

SPCA still opposes event

In spite of the out-of-court settlement, the Montreal SPCA says it was not a party to the proceedings and still vehemently opposes the event.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, the animal rights agency said while it "respects professor Roy's decision," it would still like people who are concerned about animal welfare to denounce the urban rodeo and pressure sponsors to pull out.

It also called out the rodeo organizers' legal tactics.

"We are concerned by the fact that the rodeo's organizers used financial pressure tactics by requiring a $100,000 surety in the case and threatened to sue the professor personally. Such tactics would impede any citizen or group of citizens looking to defend the interests of animals before the courts.

"The Montreal SPCA continues to encourage the public to oppose the rodeo and demand its cancellation," the statement said.

It's calling on citizens to sign its petition, which as of Wednesday evening had more than 25,000 signatures, or to write a letter to Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.

NomadFest Urban Rodeo is slated to run from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 at the Old Port.

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak