Horse-slaughter protesters seek to deceive

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Calgary recently saw a ragtag group protesting the slaughter of horses. They gathered under a billboard which featured the slogan, “Stop Slaughtering Us” with a picture of two pensive-looking horses. To many passing by it was probably bewildering, but it is effective. Slaughter is one of those hot-button buzzwords that gets immediate attention.

The protesters would seem to be mostly American-influenced through an organization called Angel Acres. Even the horse picture was American, as the same billboard has been seen in the U.S.

The American anti-slaughter lobby had won a victory in shutting down the horse-processing business in the U.S. But what they had not figured was that American horses would then be exported to Canada for slaughter. The lobby groups then set up shop in Canada through surrogate groups to influence gullible politicians, close down Canadian plants, or at the least prevent the importation of American horses for slaughter. To date they have not been successful.

But one surefire way to get media attention is to state that food is unsafe and contaminated, so the protesters claimed that horse meat is tainted with a drug called phenylbutazone. CFIA testing shows 99 per cent negative for the drug. The reality is the horse meat business in Canada is a thriving industry that is professionally run, and closely monitored and inspected by the CFIA.

Besides, almost 99 per cent of Canadian horse meat is exported under even stricter European and Japanese health and slaughter protocols. So for Canadian citizens the industry is essentially out of sight and out of mind. But that reality doesn’t stop lobby groups. So why not scare gullible consumers and media with bogus allegations — it’s a proven PR tactic used by animal rights groups.

To attract media attention, the protesters also trotted out Alex Atamanenko, an NDP MP from B.C. He is the sponsor of Bill C-322 which aims to stop the importation of slaughter horses into Canada. One suspects his participation was more an opportunistic political stunt to appear trendy and politically correct to naive urban and eastern voters. Even better from an NDP political strategy, they get to again bash at Alberta where the horse-processing business is centred. However, as deceptive as it all may be, it’s all part of lobbying tactics and the end justifies the means.

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