Comment: Bullying and dishonesty: protesters’ antics not OK

A commentary by the owner/operator of Tally-Ho Carriage Tours.

It is with great interest and disbelief that I read “Carriage protesters doing nothing wrong,” the July 22 letter from Jordan Reichert, founder of the Victoria Horse Alliance, and deputy leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada, a minor registered political party that focuses on animal rights.

Reichert claimed to be “doing nothing wrong” in his organized protests of Victoria’s horse drawn carriage industry.

article continues below

While I fully support everyone’s right to peaceful protest, Reichert’s group is harassing staff and guests of the carriage industry.

The Victoria Horse Alliance protesters range in numbers from 10 to 14, and have vowed to protest the use of horse-drawn carriages in Victoria every Saturday throughout the summer.

From what I have seen, they are holding to this promise, with the exception of July 11, when it was raining. Apparently the horses don’t need to be defended if the weather isn’t nice.

Upon arrival at the carriage stands on Saturdays, the protesters spread out in order to surround the carriage staff: 14 protesters ignoring physical- distancing rules and interfering with six, young, primarily female staff just trying to take care of the horses and do their jobs.

Add to that a video camera that follows every move the staff make, all day; organized drive-bys of cars honking and yelling at staff and horses; cars following tours with their passengers yelling verbal accusations and threats at staff and guests; and showing videos of horses being slaughtered — which has no relevance to Victoria’s carriage industry — to guests and their young children.

Most recently, the Victoria Horse Alliance has included a very young child in the protests. The child is asked to hold a sign and ask people to not ride with the “horsies.”

The police have been called every time. The Victoria Horse Alliance members are consistently interfering with business and creating a safety issue for staff, horses and guests. The police have the same conversations each week, reminding the Victoria Horse Alliance of the parameters around “peaceful” protesting.

Numerous veterinarians, horse professionals, the B.C. SPCA and the City of Victoria have all spoken out in support of our local industry.

The alliance has admitted to having zero knowledge of horses or their physical or mental care requirements. Their opinions are based on an “I think, I feel” ideology that is not grounded in fact.

While we are all entitled to our opinions, I would urge people to do research, come and see for yourself, ask us questions, follow our social media or blog posts, etc. We are an open book about what we do and how we do it, and I am extremely proud of the level of care my horses receive.

I am appalled at the behaviour of these activists who are hurtling unrelenting verbal assaults at my staff who are horse professionals, working tirelessly out of love to ensure the safety, health and happiness of the carriage horses.

How can these activists think it is OK for them to accuse myself and my staff of such heinous acts as animal abuse? That’s a very serious, yet unfounded, allegation!

How is it OK to follow young women around all day at work with a video camera hoping to find them taking a single misstep in their daily activities so they can exploit them on social media?

How is it OK to create a narrow passageway of protesters that these young women must pass through constantly, all day, in order to attend to their horses and guests?

How is it OK for protesters to endanger staff by refusing to keep proper physical distancing during the health crisis?

How is it OK for protesters to follow horses while on tour, blaring car horns and yelling at staff and guests?

It’s simple: This is not protesters “doing nothing wrong,” as the Victoria Horse Alliance claims.

This is protesters purposefully harassing and intimidating young women in the workplace and the public by using dishonesty, bullying and scare tactics.

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist