Heads turned in downtown Toronto on Monday as angry animal activists picketed outside a restaurant they claim sells horse meat to customers — a practice they want stopped. About 40 protestors waved signs and chanted outside Beer Bistro on King St. E. to bring awareness of the sale of the meat and support Bill C-544, a proposal to stop the slaughtering horses for human consumption. “We want this practice stopped completely,” said Bob Timmons, of Ocean Activist United. “Slaughtered horses are being treated with drugs and substances which are banned from entering the human food chain.” Timmons said the animals were formerly pets or obtained from racetracks in the U.S. and trucked to plants in Alberta and Quebec where they are slaughtered for sale. Group members claim there are three Toronto restaurants serving horsemeat.
“About 80 or 90% of the meat goes to Europe,” he said. “The treatment of these animals is very inhumane and should be banned.” Beer Bistro owner and chef Brian Morin handed out beef burgers as the protest was taking place in front of his upscale restaurant. “We have never had a problem with serving horse meat,” Morin said on Monday, but added the meat was removed from the menu last week. “It is something our customers ask for. “People are entitled to protest,” Morin said. “Will they be protesting against ducks next time?” Horse meat is a popular delicacy in Europe and is widely sold, the protestors and officials said. Activist Kursten Dulmage said about 94,000 horses were slaughtered for food in Canada last year. “They are shot in the head and killed,” Dulmage said. “These animals are not bred for food and Canada and Mexico are the only countries that still slaughter them.” Daniela Caruso said the bill would make it illegal to transport and kill horses for human consumption. “These animals are put through a lot of stress before they are killed,” said Caruso. “I don’t think that we have to eat horse meat.” Members of the group said nationwide protests were underway on Monday to support the bill, which was tabled by MP Alex Atamanenko last June to amend the Health of Animals Act and Meat Inspection Act. The group also plans to protest two other restaurants they claim sells horse meat — La Palette on Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market and Hoof Cafe, on Dundas St. W. Staff at those restaurants couldn’t be reached for comment.
*The Toronto Sun