Without prejudice By email and registered mail
29th March 2011
Premier Ed Stelmach
Office of the Premier
307 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Re: Writ of Mandamus: Guzoo Farm - Licensed by the Government of Alberta as a Zoo and Animal Sanctuary, Three Hills, Alberta
Dear Premier Stelmach,
I am writing to you in my capacity as Chairman & CEO of The Humane Society of Canada on behalf of the millions of Albertans and many others from around the world who share our concern about the protection of animals. This letter follows our conversation with your staff in the Office of the Premier and our letter sent to you yesterday.
Regrettably, we have not heard back from you, and accordingly are bringing other evidence to your attention. Our research indicates multiple complaints and inspections regarding Guzoo Farm apparently without effect or resolution of the allegations involving repeated violations of animal welfare care and standards. While we supported the passage of Alberta’s Zoo Standards in 2005, we are also aware from hard lessons in the past that the movement of pen across a piece of paper is meaningless without the necessary human, financial and technical resources along with the political will to get the job done. In a perfect world everything would be voluntary. That is not the world we live in.
In fact passing a law and then failing to enforce it is even worse because it gives taxpayers the misleading impression that something meaningful has been accomplished.
In a CTV news report yesterday, the owner of Guzoo Farm, Mr Gustafson is quoted: “...if he is forced to give up his animals, they will never go anywhere else. "That lion is worth $10,000 to taxidermy, and if that's what these people want -- that's what they'll get.".”
In my experience over the past 40 years, I have worked across Canada and in over 110 countries around the world with a wide range of law enforcement agencies at every level of government including the RCMP, the FBI and INTERPOL. I hold a BSc in Agriculture and another three years of post-graduate studies; I have extensive field experience with domestic animals and wildlife and have been involved in conducting several thousand investigations. Mr. Gustafson’s reported remarks in our professional opinion are not the hallmark of someone who cares deeply about the animals which are under his daily care and control; and they should give great pause to your own staff who reportedly take orphaned wildlife to him for care and who will be held legally responsible along with your government for facilitating these practices before and after the fact as accessories.
Regrettably, therefore, with no option remaining, we need to draw your attention to a powerful remedy under Canadian law to remind elected officials and civil servants that they work for taxpayers and are given a public trust to discharge. In our expert opinion, there is sufficient evidence prima facie to file a writ of mandamus, which your legal experts will advise has been used in Canada and its use reaffirmed by the BC Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Canada. We are aware of another case where such a writ of mandamus has been filed against the Government of Quebec for failing to discharge its public trust funded by taxpayers in the matter of enforcing federal and provincial laws to protect animals. A ruling from the court which upholds a writ of mandamus forces the government to take immediate effective action to enforce laws for which it has been entrusted and funded by taxpayers.
Notwithstanding your publicly stated intention not to run again for office, Albertans and others expect you to discharge your public trust responsibly and effectively until the day you step down as Premier.
We are repeating our call for an immediate high level expert investigation concerning allegations about the welfare of animals under the ownership, custody and control of those in charge of operating the Guzoo Farm. We also require assurances that following a professional veterinary examination of all animals that they receive immediate veterinary care and treatment, rather than being euthanized.
Attached is a Facebook link reportedly showing pictures of animals at the facility, http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=636678&id=563805693&fbid=10150443011925694P. The best way to ensure the safety of these animals is to carry out an immediate high level expert on-site investigation.
We look forward to advising the millions of concerned Albertans and others who care about animals along with the media about the positive steps you are taking to resolve these very serious allegations.
Awaiting your reply, I remain, yours sincerely,
Chairman & CEO