Animal rights activists target Montreal restaurant trying to bounce back from pandemic

Animal rights protestors have targetted another Montreal restaurant for serving meat, and the owners say they don't think it's fair as restauranteurs are trying to get back on their feet because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chez Victoire co-owner Karl Leblanc says he has been working tirelessly in recent months to help the business he loves bounce back from the extended lockdown.

"It's been so rough for the last year-and-a-half that we are focusing on the survival of ourselves first, that's the main goal," he said.

Saturday, Leblanc and his partners say they were surprised when around a dozen protesters stormed his restaurant in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood.

For about three minutes, the protesters blared sirens, chanted slogans and held up signs against the killing of animals for food.

Though there weren't many customers in the restaurant at the time, Leblanc doesn't understand why a small independent restaurant like his would be targetted.

"We encourage every small producer, small farmer, local farmer, so we support the local industry very much," he said.

This isn't the first time animal rights activists have targetted a restaurant in Montreal.

Just before the pandemic, the same group, calling itself Direct Action Everywhere, staged a similar protest at Joe Beef.

Around the same time, a restaurant in Manitoba got a threatening note from animal rights activists.

The Quebec Restaurant Association (ARQ) says enough is enough.

"The restaurant industry has been hit hard by the pandemic for the last few months and maybe even years from now," said ARQ communications officer Martin Vezina. "I don't think the restaurant owner wants to, again, be the centre of attention."

Vezina said he welcomes a healthy debate about food, but storming a restaurant is not the way to do it.

"It's not them [the owners] that choose what people eat, they will serve what people want," said Vezina.

The association said since the lockdown, 15 per cent of Quebec restaurants have gone out of business, while others are still struggling with a labour shortage.

Leblanc says he is confident his business will pull through.

"We're doing our best and we got a good response from our customers, friends and families," he said.

A complaint has been filed with Montreal police.

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