MONTREAL – About two dozen people united in front of Montreal’s city hall Sunday afternoon, and although there weren’t many, their message was loud.
“We want to show the image of a modern city, not a Middle Ages city – so we should have modern ways of transporting people and stop abusing the animals,” said protester, José Mathieu.
Earlier in the week, an incident involving a calèche horse in Griffintown went viral sparking renewed calls for the city to do away with the century-old rides.
A petition calling for the ban has been circulating online and has gathered over 25,000 signatures in 48 hours.
“It’s not the first time I’ve seen this and if we don’t stop it, it’s not gonna be the last,” said protester, Ashley Mahoney. “So I don’t know what it’s gonna take if they don’t put a ban on it.”
Opposition councillor, Sterling Downey was also among the protesters.
He called on Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre to make changes.
“I think now, after the number of incidents that have continued to happen over the past few years and in the past, we have sufficient reason to question the industry now,” he said.
Downey said the city should hold a public consultation on the future of the industry.
He also wants a report on calèche horses, ordered by Coderre last summer, to be made public.
Not everyone at the protest, however, was in agreement.
Pierre Lauzier has been a calèche driver for 20 years and he said much of what’s being said about the industry is a lie.
“Sadly, media, they don’t really talk with us, they always talk with these guys,” he said, pointing to the protesters. “They will say today that horses are abused – they don’t have proof of that.”