Polar bear pelt search puts taxidermist through 7 year legal battle with Environment Canada

A British Columbia small business owner was threatened with 2 million dollars in fines and 5 years in jail and put through 7 years of hell by Environment Canada before agency’s bizarre investigation in 2 rumored polar pelts was dropped.

In 2013, a family-run Vancouver taxidermy shop, Gohar’s Taxidermy, was raided by 9 federal agents - investigators with a warrant looking for 2 polar bear hides the authorities heard the shop had ordered from a Quebec fur supplier.

Ordering polar bear pelts isn't illegal, however doing so without a proper permit to bring furs across interprovincial boundaries is.

Blacklock’s Reporter has the story behind their paywall:

“The shop owner, Gohar Qazilbash, was arrested under threat of a $2 million fine and five years’ imprisonment for alleged breach of the Wild Animal And Plant Protection And Regulation Of International And Interprovincial Trade Act. Qazilbash was also charged under the Criminal Code for alleged improper storage of firearms, according to Court records. All charges were later dropped.

Lawyers for Gohar’s Taxidermy wrote the Court that federal agents obtained a search warrant “based on speculation, innuendo and half-truths”; seized inventory, business records and computers in their failed search for bear pelts; raided the homes of customers they believed might have the pelts; and contacted company suppliers and clients to say Gohar’s Taxidermy was “shady” and under federal investigation for serious wrongdoing.

Environment Canada dropped the case in 2015. Goods seized from the store were returned “irreparably harmed” or accidentally destroyed, lawyers told the Court. Gohar’s Taxidermy in B.C. Supreme Court files said federal agents never apologized for their mistake then tried and failed to have a Charter Of Rights civil lawsuit dismissed before settling for $195,000.”

This sad story of ruination began under Stephen Harper and spanned 2 governments, as part of an ongoing problem of out of control bureaucrats doing whatever they want to Canadians with complete impunity.