Written by : Heather Clemenceau
Last month, Equine Canada, the comprehensive national governing body for equestrianism, replied to a direct question from Alex Atamanenko on Bill C-571, who asked for confirmation on their stance on the new horse slaughter Bill C-571. Quite frankly, their explanation for not supporting the Bill does not pass the smell test.
They sent this letter to MPs which included a justification for horse slaughter, based on the GAO report on horse slaughter – Horse Welfare – Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter. Yet curiously, they did not post or promote this now thoroughly debunked GAO report anywhere else that I can see – not on Facebook or on their website. So why did they only include reference to the GAO report in the letter sent to MPs? Is it because they expected that the horse people who read their Facebook page and website would already know that it had been debunked by John Holland of the Equine Welfare Alliance? Were they attempting to be duplicitous by doing so? Please take the time to watch John Holland’s in-depth explanation of the machinations behind the official GAO report:
Even though evidence of this debunking has been sent to Equine Canada not only by horse advocates but also in a letter written by MP Alex Atamanenko himself, they will likely never retract the reference or their support for the slaughter industry. Read the text under their banner ad on Facebook – it says, we are “…the industry sector leader and as such is recognized and supported by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.” They snuck this in after the usual self-promotion about horse sport in Canada.
The justification for horse slaughter using a debunked report is the latest in a laundry list of problems with EC, which includes their inability to retain their leadership or tackle the traceability issue no matter how many people make up their various committees. How many established organizations hire a CEO on a 1 year term anyway? By the time you send a communication to either an Equine Canada President or CEO/CFO, either or both of them have been replaced/left/terminated and there is no continuity carried forward with the next warm body occupying the position. Maybe they should host a reality show, “Who Wants To Be Our Next CEO?” I’m not surprised (or disappointed) that the traceability/CanEQUID project seems to be floundering either – is it because the Board of Directors cannot commit to moving forward on it, or are they dysfunctional?
Just under 900,000 people in Canada are active in the horse industry – more of them adults (59 percent) than children (41 percent). If you’re a competitor, you can’t compete nationally without buying a membership in EC, in your provincial association, with a national sport licence for you, a national passport and annual sport licence for your horse, etc . A few already very wealthy elite riders will get their very expensive training and some of their very expensive
travel costs covered through the lobbying efforts and direct grants available via EC, while the para-equestrians get considerably less. However, the vast majority of horse owners are not professional equestrians and therefore underrepresented by Equine Canada. What has EC done to promote Canada’s Trail Riding and Equestrian Tourism? I think trail riders in particular are unimpressed with EC, as they feel that the only benefit Equine Canada could have offered them was the trail system they were supposed to be putting together…but thus far have not. Non-competitors probably outnumber competitors by orders of magnitude. Who does the EC really represent except elite athletes and Agri-Food Canada?
Anti-slaughter advocates need to take a stand by purchasing an Equine Canada membership for $10 and then attending the AGM, challenging them to adopt a non-slaughter position and to promote horse sport for all equestrians. Equine Canada’s mandate SHOULD be to promote horse sport. Full stop. They were never meant to be dabbling around in the bowels of slaughter and using themselves as a cover for Agriculture Canada’s sordid meat business. Will there ever be an end to the conflict of interest of created by Equine Canada’s mandate to promote horse sport and their entanglement with Agriculture Canada’s horse slaughter enterprise?