Without prejudice By email and registered mail
30th March 2011
Premier Ed Stelmach
Office of the Premier
307 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Re: Additional Allegations and Evidence - 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 on 28th March 2011 and another letter with new information sent to you yesterday.
Regrettably, we have not heard back from you, and accordingly we are writing a third letter to bring other allegations and 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.
You are making a mockery of your fellow Albertans, the taxpayers who placed their trust and hard earned tax dollars in your hands. While we supported the passage of Alberta’s Zoo Standards in 2005, we have now learned that Mr. Gustafson reportedly ran a fur farm in the 1980’s which involved putting wild animals in wire cages to be cruelly raised and killed for their luxury fur. When that didn’t work out, from Guzoo Farm owner Mr. Gustafson’s current remarks, we believe that dozens of these wild animals being raised for fur were killed instead of being adopted out to wildlife sanctuaries.
We look forward to the results of your investigation to determine if this in fact was the case, because it would show a pattern of behaviour at law that should be taken very seriously with regards to Mr. Gustafon’s repeated intentions about the animals currently under his care. More specifically, yesterday in a Global Television report, his son was quoted: “ .... Gustafson said the family is not concerned about losing its permit. He said that a few years ago the province asked the family in a zoo-development plan: what it would do with the animals if it was forced to close its doors. "Most of the animals we have here, it would be pretty near impossible to find homes for them," said Gustafson. "So Dad put that they would all be euthanized and used for taxidermy. I don't think Fish and Wildlife really wants that."
So that there are no misunderstandings, please let us be perfectly clear. If these allegations and evidence of convictions are proven, then why in the world would anyone rely upon Mr. Gustafon’s statements or advice when there is overwhelming evidence and allegations that for decades he has been unwilling to follow the laws and care for a large number of animals. Just as importantly, why would your staff at your direction continue to bring injured and orphaned wildlife native to Alberta to his farm for care?
Finally, why does Mr. Gustafson hold the mistaken belief that it is his decision whether the animals live or die before they are even examined by high level expert veterinarians to determine if they could be relocated to wildlife sanctuaries?
Unbelievable as it may seem, equally devastating is that as Premier, you have sadly misled Albertans - reportedly in the very same year that Mr. Gustafson’s was charged and convicted for the illegal possession of exotic species, your staff issued him a licence to operate a zoo – along with the allegations that dozens of reports of violations have gone unresolved since he was issued a licence because of the failure of your staff.
There is ample reason why Mr Gustafson appears to be stating for the record that if he doesn’t like what the law requires him to do by providing suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for his animals he will have them killed, stuffed and sold for large sums of money – because civil servants and elected officials of your government are at law accessories before and after the fact.
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. Our observations are based upon that hard won experience.
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.
Unless you and your government wish to be remembered in Canadian case law history as individuals who were forced by the court to discharge their public responsibilities in a way that Albertans expect and demand; and should you decide not to act in a way that is in the animal’s best interests, then having due regard to the weight of all of the foregoing allegations and evidence, we will have no choice left except to seek other legal remedies to compel you to act along with involving your civil servants and elected officials as accessories before and after the fact.
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
Gustafson said the family is not concerned about losing its permit. He said that a few years ago the province asked the family in a zoo-development plan: what it would do with the animals if it was forced to close its doors.
"Most of the animals we have here, it would be pretty near impossible to find homes for them," said Gustafson.
"So Dad put that they would all be euthanized and used for taxidermy. I don't think Fish and Wildlife really wants that."
GLOBAL TELEVISION MARCH 29/2011
Guzoo started as a fur farm in the 1980s, and in '89, Gustafson was convicted for illegal possession of exotic animals – the same year he got his zoo licence.
EDMONTON EXAMINER, MARCH 29/2011
Guzoo’s 23-year history has included dozens of violations against its zoo permit — prompting a health review —and three convictions of Guzoo owner under the Wildlife Act and Animal Protection Act.
METRO EDMONTON, MARCH 29/2011