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Shut Up and Let Me Eat My Pony in Peace! – La Palette Protest – July 13th

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La Palette protest - July 13th - Summerlicious

La Palette Protest – July 13th – the Toronto Summerlicious dining festival

Written by Heather Clemenceau ©;  all artwork ©

PISS OFF - is this a Urologist's office or what?

PISS OFF – is this a Urologist’s office or a message to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford? Just a shopfront I saw while making my way to La Palette,  which also seems to foreshadow the prevailing sentiment for the evening.

We’re part way through the Summerlicious dining event in the city of Toronto.  It’s hot as Hades,  and in typical Toronto style,  streets are closed-off for no apparent reason,  other than to inconvenience drivers.   You really cannot go downtown without a functioning GPS system of some sort,  because you are forced to weave through one-way arterial streets,  driving several kms out of the way and then doubling back,  and coping with other drivers who see well in advance that their lane is closing, but wait until the last second to butt in front of you.  And don’t even think about attempting a right-hand turn without checking in your mirrors and blindspots because cyclists shoot up on the right side of your car while on their iPhones.

It seems that co-owner Shamez Amlani has taken a pass on participating in Summerlicious this year,  which is probably a good idea considering that the resto only received a conditional pass in the Dine Safe program,  and there are anywhere from 5-15 protesters in front of the place each week.  It also might not be a good idea to feature raw meat dishes in Toronto as they’ve done in the past,  since it’s become apparent that the CFIA is cracking down on restaurants serving raw meat.

Toronto Public Health Report - obscured behind a plant

Toronto Public Health Report – obscured behind a plant

With the street closed-off in front of La Palette (again,  for no apparent reason),  we have much less street traffic than usual,  and less honking.   In the last few weeks we’ve seen that La Palette has a new “strategy,”  which consists of  sending out trolls to either confront us or try to get us to make damaging statements of opinion about the food at the resto.  We’re totally onto the practice of sending a troll out to talk to us under the guise of seeing if we will tell potential customers to eat elsewhere.  This can only mean that,  contrary to Shamez’ earlier statements that he loves our “marketing” efforts,  he is quite desperate to find a way to incriminate us.

Here’s how it works in practice:  a “covert agent” prodded into duty by Shamez,  walks up to the restaurant and expresses consternation about eating there in light of the protest.  After a quick minute,  that person approaches one of the protesters and asks for information.  We duly oblige.  Then the prospective diner (tonight it was an older gentleman) says he is meeting a date here for the first time and doesn’t know her very well.  “How can I explain to her?”  “What should I tell her about eating here?”  Sorry,  we’re NOT falling for THAT!  One thing we are very cognizant of not doing while on protest duty is telling anyone not to eat at the restaurant.  A few weeks ago it was a woman walking down the street, who suddenly flew into a rage at the site of the protest,  and was compelled to call the police.  Sadly,  she had no cell phone,  so she had to go INTO the restaurant to call the police.

It is not our place to render our opinion on whether the staff is friendly,  the food is good, or safe to eat.  We have NO opinion on that – patrons are free to eat there of their own free-will and we are not there to encumber them in their decision.  If you want to know whether it’s SAFE to eat at the restaurant,  check out the Dine Safe review and form your own opinion.  Of course,  it’s a dead giveaway that the person isn’t asking legit questions when he goes  inside the restaurant “to check and see if his date has arrived,”  and doesn’t emerge while we’re there.  I guess he found his dinner companion inside where he left her.

Is Shamez bribing these people to come out of the “dark, dusty” establishment to start arguments with us?  It sure seems that way. Which leads us to the Toronto Public Health report…………..where has that report been hiding?  It’s on the window where it’s supposed to be,  but it’s now somewhat obscured by a flowering plant,  which is a no-no.  To help patrons out,  one of our protesters holds an actual picture of the Dine Safe report so that passers-by can actually see it.  See how courteous and helpful we are?
La Palette Yelp Review

Yelp Review of La Palette – to be fair, the resto has many positive reviews, along with this and other negatives. Yelp throws out the highest and lowest ratings and those made by Yelp reviewers who made only this one review, as they deem them “statistically irrelevant.”

Confrontation at La Palette

Confrontation at La Palette – notice that the patron has gotten all grabby with Bob’s sign.

Tonight we’re plagued by an insufferable troll who moves from person to person trying to incite us,  under the guise of wanting to know why we’re here,  why we’ve chosen La Palette,  and what else we like to do on Friday nights, etc.  After listening to this guy for 15 minutes,  his “voice” sure sounds like one of the familiar trolls I’ve seen appear in the comments section of various Toronto newspapers for a while now.  He’s been eating horse all his life (explains a lot) and he wants facts.  Well actually,  he doesn’t,  he just wants to argue,  and he sets upon poor Bob again.  Another faux-pas is committed tonight when he grabs Bob’s sign and tries to wrench it away.  Bob,  we don’t know why everybody wants to start sumthin’ with you,  but we’re there for you buddy! Abuse of signs is not going to be tolerated. 
.

Everybody seems to be getting a turn in the cage with this guy.  When he demands that I explain my position,  I just tell him to read this blog.  But that isn’t good enough,  which is surprising since he claims to have a PhD in journalism – one would think that he would have enough education to realize that War Horse was not a cooking show.   Because he leans forward towards me to argue,  and I interpret this as a Defcon 3-type threat,  I raise my camera to take a pic (little does he know I already got one of him grabbing Bob’s sign) and he sticks his hand in front of the camera, as if he’s Sean Penn and I’m a papp at TMZ.  This troll hung out with us so long that he probably needs his own protest permit!  We ignore him for as long as possible,  but can’t resist an

Go home and let me eat my pony in peace!

Go home and let me eat my pony in peace!

occasional poke at the bear,  who paces up and down in front of La Palette chain-smoking and just generally being a douche.  Shamez comes outside to observe the scuffle and stays long enough to make some oblique comment about “negros and plantations.”   Finally our journalist skulks back inside after demanding that we all 1) shut-up and 2) leave.  I hate to point out the obvious but we have a legitimate right to protest on the street and we don’t have to go home because you don’t like it.  You’d think a journalist would know that.  You’d also think a journalist or any other person possessing common sense would realize that if he weren’t out on the street arguing with us,  we wouldn’t be “talking.”  Cause and Effect – they don’t teach that in the Perez Hilton School of Journalism.

Some of us did have an exchange with a young woman who apparently works at La Palette.  She was overheard asking what many people ask – “Why horses?”  “Why not GMO foods?” etc. etc.  This young woman wasn’t offensive and did seem to be genuine,  even if not convinced based on her employer’s stance,  so I handed her an information sheet that explained that about 30% of horses slaughtered for food in Canada were racehorses who were likely to have received a compendium of drugs in their racing career.  Here’s what was on the list:

Table 1.  Therapeutic Medications Routinely Used and Identified as Necessary by the Veterinary Advisory Committee — (Racing Medication and Testing Consortium [RMTC] draft list of therapeutic medications, 2005) 

1. Acepromazine 17. Dipyrone  33. Omeprazole 
2. Albuterol 18. Flunixin  34. Pentoxifylline
3. Aminocaproic Acid 19. Fluprednisolone 35. Phenylbutazone
4. Atropine 20. Fluphenazine 36. Phenytoin
5. Beclomethasone 21. Furosemide 37. Prednisolone
6. Betamethasone 22. Glycopyrrolate  38. Prednisone
7. Boldenone 23. Guaifenesin 39. Procaine Penicillin
8. Butorphanol  24. Hydroxyzine 40. Pyrilamine
9. Cimetidine 25. Isoflupredone 41. Ranitidine
10. Clenbuterol 26. Isoxsuprine 42. Reserpine
11. Cromolyn 27. Ketoprofen 43. Stanozolol
12. Dantrolene 28. Lidocaine  44. Testosterone
13. Detomidine  29. Mepivacaine  45. Triamcinolone
14. Dexamethasone 30. Methocarbamol  46. Trichlomethiazide
15. Diazepam 31. Methylprednisolone
16. DMSO 32. Nandrolone 
 
Keep Calm and Stay Classy La Palette

Keep Calm and Stay Classy La Palette

The above list is not even inclusive – there are documented cases of racehorses being dosed with Viagra, cocaine,  cobra venom,  and Dermorphin (pharmacologically similar to morphine and derived from South American frogs).  Not only are these drugs an abuse of horses,  there is no way to confidently assert that these drugs and their metabolites do not enter the food chain.  Obviously,  the most commonly cited drug is Phenylbutazone.  On Pubmed,  there are over 8500 references to phenylbutazone,  so it has been frequently tested in case-controlled,  cohorted studies for many years.  It is a documented fact that even oxyphenbutazone residues,  the metabolite of bute,  can cause aplastic anemia,  and this fact is not in dispute.  Note to Shamez – slaughterhouse veterinarians and managers are in no way qualified to render an opinion whether horsemeat is safe to eat because they are not versed in toxicology or xenobiotics.

There is no incentive at this point in time to test bute any further since the FDA has removed approval for its use in humans,  it is no longer protected by patents,  if indeed it ever was,  and therefore,  no monetary value could be accrued to the patent-holder after roughly 40-50 years on the market.  We likely know as much as we ever will about the effects of bute on horses as well as humans.

Horses in Canada received at slaughterhouses are held for a maximum of 4 days only, and in mosts cases not even that,  so even if they were given bute the day before and this was not disclosed on the EID,  this is insufficient withdrawal time by even the most lax (Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis) standards.

In addition to ALL that, bute has been found in meat shipped to the EU, and has been withdrawn long AFTER it has reached the consumer, further evidence that EIDs and passporting do not work when you are trying to jury-rig a system of slaughtering and consuming non-food animals for food consumption.

Yes,  many horses are treated very poorly,  and as you can read,  they are hardly “organic.”  To regard them with reverence or sentiment is not simply a matter of emotional response.   I contend that horses merit better than to be mass slaughtered and served-up to grab-happy journalists who have not informed themselves as to history, civil liberties,  the right to freedom of association, and especially the sciences.

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

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La Palette Protest – April 27, 2012

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"La Palette",  protest,  toronto,  "Queen Street West" , "french restaurant", horse,  horsemeat

Some members of our group, relaxed and chatting prior to the shitstorm soon to follow.

Written by : Heather Clemenceau

(All images copyright Heather Clemenceau – use with permission only)

On Friday, April 27th, I attended the protest rally in support of Canadian and American horses, held at La Palette restaurant in Queen West, where many conscience-driven protesters have maintained vigil for about two months now.

"La Palette" , "horse slaughter",  "animal cruelty"

While we love and enjoy horses, there are many irrefutable facts surrounding the inhumanity of their slaughter, and their status as a “non-food” animal.

La Palette, co-owned by bike-culture enthusiast Shamez Amlani, is one of the few holdouts in Toronto still serving horsemeat, other restaurants having capitulated long ago that horsemeat was at best, of “indeterminate origin,” and at worst, a chemical cocktail of cruelly-derived meat that by Shamez’ own description is “offensive to the English population.” Having encouraged other French restauranteurs to boycott American booze, Shamez now finds himself on the receiving end of this very effective form of expression, which now includes the Humane Society groups of Canada.

"Toronto Police,"  "Mounted Unit" "La Palette Protest,  horse,  horsemeat

We’re pretty sure this guy is pro-horse…..

While we’re unsure of La Palette’s customer demographics, Queen West itself is home to an eclectic mix of dodgy and/or unique retail shops, and the occasional art gallery and vintage clothes stores, primarily patronized by aging skinny-jeaned hipsters who have not quite retired from the 80s punk sub-culture scene. Most patrons tonight are sitting at the bar rather than eating, and appear to be made up of the local community rather than epicureans from old-world horse-eating countries.

"la Palette",  vegan,  protest,  horsemeat

Tonight we’re joined by vegan protesters….bringing our group headcount to about 15.

"la palette" horsmeat,  protest

Pro-Horse Supporter stops by and shows pics of horses he has rescued.

I’d been forewarned that tensions had flared recently. While Shamez and some staff members were primarily confined to making sarcastic remarks or occasional outbursts, the worst invective actually came from their customers, who had in the past tried to taunt the protesters with horsemeat or stories of their own animal cruelty. Peaceful protesters were taunted about their weight and appearance etc. and on the 27th, these taunts reached critical mass.

"La Palette" , horsemeat,  "Queen West" , confrontation

What starts as a heated discussion…….

The first 2 hours of a 3 hour planned protest (all protest-related paperwork is duly prepared by the organizers and forwarded to the proper authorities) were uneventful – protesters politely engaged various passersby who expressed a mix of curiosity, skepticism, and often outright endorsement of our cause. We’ve even attracted a few “groupies.” At the start of hour 3 the ad hominem attacks went positively nuclear when two regular patrons, not known for swimming in the sane side of the pool, left the restaurant, walked directly and purposefully towards a group of vegan supporters and uttered a loud “Fuck You.”

“On second thought, I wouldn’t fuck you, because you are un-fuckable.” “I would rather fuck your dog.” This declared by an aging, pot-bellied misogynist asshat known for making these drive-by slurs, to a young woman, who didn’t even engage him verbally. Hell no – like any of us would waste our womanly charms on this sleazeball – not even if we’re faced with a fucking apocalypse.  Anyway, while we’re accustomed to opposition or disagreement (which we handle with a quiet dignity), we stood by in astonishment while he continued his expletive-filled tirade, and his red-haired companion deciding to make her argument more emphatic by grasping a protester’s arm while arguing with her. And that folks, is an assault. In contrast, and with palpable coolness, the accosted protester did not react.

"La Palette",  CHDC,  "Canadian Horse Defence Coalition" ,  protesters,  Toronto,  "Queen Street West" ,

We Serve Horsemeat Steaks This Big……..

How far down the rabbit hole will we go tonight? Batten down the hatches folks, because it ain’t over yet – the shoutdowns now going nuclear, Shamez makes a dash outside just as the customers beat a hasty retreat (note to Shamez – you’d be proud, at least they left on foot and didn’t get into a gas-guzzling car). According to Shamez, the protesters have all increased his business three-fold via our “marketing efforts,” so he very theatrically pulls out his wallet and with a flourish, starts handing out money (one protester scores a $20) before he abruptly stops. Shamez, you had a $50 bill in that stash – where is the love?

provocateurs,  "La Palette",  horsemeat,  CHDC,  protest,  horse,

After a seriously misogynist rant, these provocateurs retreat on foot. Protesters are regularly harassed by this couple.

At times raising his fist close to a protester’s face, Shamez completely abandoned any past pretense of politeness; he attempted to shout down our $20 recipient, invaded his space, and made many of us fearful that he was about to either pop a blood vessel or pop the protester. I’m left wondering if his protest against American booze went down like this?

"La Palette" , horsemeat,  protest,  "Queen Street West,  "French Restaurant"

From here it’s all downhill….

"La Palette",  protest,  horsemeat,  CHDC,  "Canadian Horse Defence Coalition" , Toronto

Rock, Paper, Scissors…..

"La Palette" , protest,  horse,  horsemeat,  Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, CHDC,  "french cuisine"

Lines are being crossed and boundaries are being breached here…..for some unknown reason, the dude at left, a friend or associate of Amlani, finds some hilarity in the confrontation.

chdc,  "La Palette", "french cuisine" , toronto, horse, horsemeat,  protest,  CHDC

Cause for Concern

After we make it plain that the customer started the incident, Shamez broke down and apologized on behalf of his clientele – “that should not have happened.” Of course it shouldn’t, but he needs a better class of customer. In the interim, the rest of us will be committed to getting in our six-cylinder SUVs to drive down to La Palette instead of riding our environmentally low-impact equines – those same ones he would like to serve up with a side of oats and carrots, under the guise of “multiculturalism.” Which of course begs the question, since horsemeat is purported by Shamez to be an ethnic dish, is this something that the ethnically-diverse Toronto should embrace?

"La Palette"  ,  CHDC,  horsemeat,  protest,  horse

First He Argues, Then Shamez Apologizes for Customer’s Behaviour

Personally, I think this is a red-herring, because this is not what mutlculturalism means to me. While a lot of vegetarians, vegans, and horse lovers would not want to contemplate it, why not open a restaurant in any of the European countries that serve horse, because the vast majority of Canadians won’t eat it. Sure Shamez, we know your Canada includes Quebec, where horsemeat is popular in certain regions, but you’re not in Quebec.

cfia,  "La Palette" , horsemeat,  horse,  "Toronto french restaurant", foodies, "Canadian Food Inspection Agency"

The CFIA is Not Transparent About Testing Horsemeat

And please, let’s be honest about what multiculturalism is not – it is not a defense of ethnic narcissism – whereby some groups appear to hold the opinion that they possess exclusive identities that are superior to other cultures. Multiculturalism is NOT an apology for limiting human rights or excusing cruel practices to either humans or animals. Canadians have universally shown that we do not accept Sharia law in our country, nor do we tolerate practices brought to our country that promote oppression, sexual harassment, genital mutilation, or oppression of those who express their sexuality or orientation differently than the majority. There are many viewpoints imported into Canada which should be left in the “old country” as they only serve to reinforce popular prejudice.

While I’m not suggesting that eating horsemeat is on a par with these crimes, I am making a point about multiculturalism and incrementalism as it applies to food handling and consumption, and the practice of desensitizing people to the eating of unusual foods without regard for how they are raised, obtained, or killed.  Should Canadians be willing to accept the eating of dogs and cats in Canada,  merely because it is accepted practice in some other locales in the world?  Should we be afraid to critique the eating of Bear Paw soup because to do so  might subject us to cries of “racism?”  Witness the deluge of horsemeat-related opinion pieces coming out of the Toronto Sun (also noteworthy for it’s “Sunshine Girl” – another cultural anachronism). In the past few months we’ve observed numerous horsemeat articles by Toronto based newspapers, seemingly intent on softening up the market for horsemeat. Is it a mere coincidence that they are timed to coincide with the re-introduction of horsemeat to the La Palette menu? In my opinion, these articles have been published to attract attention. The authors of these opinion pieces have likely never spent a single day with a living horse, which is regrettable.

horses,  horsemeat,  "La Palette" , protest,  democracy.  "Occupy Toronto" , CFIA,  CHDC

Horses Deserve Respect – They Are Not Food Animals

If they had, they would perhaps “get” much of the message we have been getting out to the public – that not only is horsemeat cruelly derived, it is not safe to consume non-food animals who have received drugs not intended for food animals, despite what the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has asserted. That they do receive such drugs, not exclusive of Phenylbutazone (horse anti-inflammatory) is not in dispute. Claude Boissoneault, CFIA National Specialist, Red Meat Program, indicated to the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) in October 2010 that in the past 5 years, 698 samples of equine meat was submitted for phenylbutazone testing. According to Agriculture Canada slaughter numbers, that is 0.18% of 385,339 horses slaughtered in 5 years – an abysmally weak cross section of testing. If the CFIA hasn’t had a single positive in eight years it doesn’t say much for the accuracy of their test. You can’t find a substance you’re not looking for.

On the other hand,  the EU is doing a better job finding Phenylbutazone in their horsemeat supplies,  a finding which is made all the more striking and relevant due to the “passporting” system in place in some EU countries.  The passport system is intended to keep horses that have been given non-permissable drugs out of the food chain entirely,  however as we can see from this link,  even that system doesn’t work  perfectly.  Not only has drug-tainted horsemeat entered the food chain in Europe,  it has been recalled long AFTER reaching consumers.  What do these incidents in the EU suggest to you about the horsemeat supply in Canada,  which uses the deeply-flawed EID document to “track” horses?

The writers of these articles may choose to consume meat that is not properly tested for safe consumption, but they are wrong to advise their readers to do the same, and the Toronto Sun and other papers should conduct better research. And of course, it goes without saying that we believe that Shamez is wrong to serve it.

"La Palette"  ,  horsemeat,  horse,  CHDC,  Toronto,  multiculturalism,  protest, "French Restaurant"

In Speaking with Onlookers, We Provide Factual Information

Disagreement on this subject matter is unavoidable. This post is not about where you live or what you prefer to eat. Incrementalists and foodie-freaks equate strong criticism of their ideas with the idea that such criticism is a move to stifle their rights to eat whatever they wish. But the majority of people polled in Canada are opposed to horse slaughter – that’s where La Palette chooses to serve its horsemeat. So we will be there, asserting our right to peaceful assembly, until such time that reason prevails and perpetual hypocrite Shamez Amlani realises that our position on horsemeat is not much different from his position on cars or American liquor. Except of course, when you consider that horses are sensitive, sentient animals who generally start their lives as private pets, carriage horses, performance horses, children’s ponies, and cowboy steeds. So why is he still serving this product to his clientele?

(All images copyright Heather Clemenceau – use with permission only)