Canada newspaper reverses stance on anti-rodeo ads

Mon Jul 5, 2010 4:17pm EDT
 
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - An animal rights group said on Monday that Calgary's largest newspaper has agreed to run an advertisement critical of the Western Canadian city's world-famous Calgary Stampede rodeo.

The Vancouver Humane Society's full-page ad showing a calf being roped by a cowboy under a banner saying "That's Entertainment?" ran near the back of Monday's Calgary Herald. Last year the newspaper refused to publish an ad calling for a ban on the calf-roping event.

After its 2009 decision generated national media coverage, the paper asked for only minor changes to this year's photo but did not tell the society why its views had changed.

"They didn't give any reason why they decided to accept the ad this time round," said Peter Fricker, a spokesman for the Vancouver animal-protection group.

"We just submitted it ... and were told it would be evaluated. In a couple of days they got back to us and told us we would have to make one change."

A spokeswoman for the Herald -- part of the Canwest Global Communications chain of papers that is expected to soon emerge from bankruptcy protection -- said the ad was more acceptable than the one the society submitted in 2009, in which a cowboy was labeled a "bully".

"This year's ad changed ... creative direction," said the Herald's Siobhan Vinish. "We judged it to be suitable for publication so we published it."

The Vancouver Humane Society opposes rodeo events in general but particularly dislikes calf-roping, an event in which a young cow is chased down by a rider on horseback, lassoed and tied up by three of its legs.

Doug Fraser, a spokesman for the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, said all rodeo contests are monitored by animal welfare groups and calf-roping is a popular part of the 10-day event.

"We know some people have different opinions about animals and we respect that," he said. "But they have to respect the opinions of millions of Calgarians, Canadians and international visitors."

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Peter Galloway)