Caleche driver interrupts memorial for 4 dead horses in Montreal
Tempers flared Saturday when an angry caleche driver interrupted a memorial event being held for four horses that died on Montreal’s streets.
“You are liars!” the man, who was filmed by CTV Montreal, shouted at one point. “I am protesting your protest!”
As carriages full of tourists wheeled by in Old Montreal, two dozen or so anti-caleche protesters -- who are decrying alleged animal cruelty in the city’s horse-drawn carriage industry -- were confronted by the disgruntled driver.
“If it would be abuse, we would not be here!” the man said.
Earlier in November, a video was released that showed a 15-year-old horse named Charlot wheezing and struggling to stand before it died on the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal.
The Quebec government will perform an autopsy on the animal to determine its cause of death.
“You feel frustrated,” Mirella Colalillo, who organized Saturday’s protest, told CTV Montreal. “You feel hopeless because it could have been prevented.”
Caleche drivers, however, insist that their animals are in good health.
“First of all, all these protests are from people that don't know anything,” driver Michel Prince told CTV Montreal. “You know, they’re going around saying, ‘Free the horse!’ Education is free. Maybe they should read a book.”
The City of Montreal plans to enact a complete ban on caleches at the end of 2019. But protesters say it is not soon enough.
“It needs to be eradicated,” protester Susan Mackasey said from the scene. “I mean, there’s nothing romantic or fun about this industry -- it’s capitalizing on animals.”
“We file complaints continuously and we're not being heard,” Colalillo added.
Drivers say incidents like Charlot’s death are not their faults and that the city does not fully understand the work they do.
“Spend a day with us and you’ll see how we react with the horses and how the horses react with us,” Prince said. “As far as the city, they never came down to talk with us.”
Once the caleche ban goes into effect, drivers like Prince will be forced to hang up their reins or relocate.
“We already have some cities that (have) already been in touch with us,” Prince claimed. “They want us to go over there and do the same type of work we’re doing here.”
Prince declined to say what cities had made such offers.
For their part, Saturday’s protesters say they will keep fighting to move up the date of Montreal’s final caleche ride.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Kelly Greig