Calgarys western complacency

In hindsight, Calgary is a great city to hold events like the recent G8 Summit. This isn’t because the summit went smoothly, but because the Stampede never does, and we still put up with it.

The people of this city would never stand for the crap that marked the ten days that were this year’s Stampede for anything other than redneck fun.

A snake march through the downtown core and protests blocking traffic caused two days of headaches for commuting Calgarians. Every year, Stampede blocks traffic, causing volume delays and parking issues for ten days-but where are the complaints?

During the summit, a bear was shot to death in K-Country. Many protesters who also advocate animal rights and environmental issues were naturally miffed by this. Imagine, though, if six bears had been killed. Do you think many Calgarians would find something wrong with that? That’s how many animals were turned into dog food and glue courtesy the chucks and the rodeo. Rather than an uproar about animal rights, we get headlines in the Calgary Herald announcing "Stampede seen as far from cruel," and the Calgary Humane Society giving the rodeo a satisfactory, passing grade on animal safety. A few local politicians quietly demanded an inquest, but according to an informal poll, 90 per cent of Calgarians think the rodeo is perfectly safe. A calf and five horses had vital bones shattered in the name of entertainment, and this city-and its Humane Society-calls it safe.

The G8 protests saw no injuries, no deaths and no violence. There are many reasons for this, but it’s worth noting that protesters were not drunk corporate fifty-somethings. Aside from a number of drunken bar brawls and a double stabbing on the Stampede Midway, there was a fatal stabbing at the City Hall train station. Now that stabbing didn’t have anything to do with the drunken, party atmosphere of Stampede: it could have happened anytime.

This isn’t to say we should cancel the Stampede, but we should be aware of the consequences it brings. With the grounds growing and attendance (though down this year) increasing overall, the problems will only get worse. On the upside, next time the g8 or any other potentially trouble making conference rolls through town, we know what to do: hold it during Stampede Week and no one will know the difference.


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