This is the tale of two popular Canadian parka companies: Canada Goose and Moose Knuckles. Both use fur trim, both charge a hefty price for their luxury jackets ($600 to $1,000), and both are allegedly deceiving consumers about the true nature of the products they're peddling. But the authorities are only taking action against one of them. What gives?
Animal Justice has been asking federal regulators for over a year now to take legal action against Canada Goose for allegedly abusing animals and covering it up. Canada Goose uses fur trim from coyotes who were allegedly caught in cruel leg-hold traps and snares, yet makes the outrageously deceptive claim that the coyotes were trapped humanely.
On their website, Canada Goose falsely describes killing coyotes for fur as humane, ethical and responsible, and claims Canada is a world leader in humane trapping. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Coyotes killed for fur trim in traps suffer horrible deaths, and experts consider Canada's standards to be incredibly weak and extremely inhumane.
Yet the federal Competition Bureau doesn't seem to care. After sitting on Animal Justice's legal complaint for nearly a year, the Bureau finally said they would not lay charges or take other legal steps to force Canada Goose to back down from their deceptive claims. No explanation, no reasons, no action.
It's hard not to conclude that our federal regulators are taking false claims about animal cruelty much less seriously than claims about where a jacket was made.
This outright dismissal of very serious deception by a global outerwear brand was shocking at the time, but it became even more disturbing last week when we learned that the Competition Bureau has now decided to go after Moose Knuckles, a similar jacket company that also uses fur trim from farmed foxes.
In a press release, the Competition Bureau says Moose Knuckles is falsely marketing its jackets as "Made in Canada" when, in fact, the jackets are mostly made in Asia with only the final touches done in Canada, like adding fur trim, snaps and zippers. The Competition Bureau has filed a legal application before the Competition Tribunal, and is seeking a staggering $4-million penalty, plus restitution for consumers.
The double standard is staggering. It's hard not to conclude that our federal regulators are taking false claims about animal cruelty much less seriously than claims about where a jacket was made.
It's wrong for the Competition Bureau to turn a blind eye to deception about animal suffering. Under Canada's trapping standards, coyotes can legally suffer painful injuries in leg-hold traps (designed to restrain an animal until the trapper returns for the kill). Coyotes can be restrained in these cruel devices for days at a time before the trapper returns to kill them, leaving them vulnerable to extreme weather, hunger, thirst and predation.
Meanwhile, snares (designed to kill a coyote by slowly constricting around the neck) are considered by wildlife experts to be extremely inhumane. Snares approved for use in Canada can take five minutes or more to slowly strangle a coyote to death before he loses consciousness and eventually dies, which by no reasonable standard can be considered "humane."
Ethical consumerism is on the rise. Many of us try to avoid buying products that contribute to animal suffering, and we'll pay a premium for them. Canada Goose knows this, and charges a lot for what is falsely marketed as ethical fur. Canada Goose also understands that if the public knew the truth about how the fur trade brutalizes animals, people wouldn't want to buy its fur-trimmed jackets.
The Competition Bureau is very concerned about Moose Knuckles potentially deceiving consumers, acknowledging that people will pay a premium for "Made In Canada" products and that consumers need correct information to make informed purposes. But there is absolutely no acknowledgment by the Competition Bureau that false claims about humane fur matter, too.
The suffering endured by the coyote victims of the fur trade is not a trivial matter, and it shouldn't be taken lightly. If law enforcement doesn't take animals seriously, companies like Canada Goose will continue to get away with abusing them and passing it off as "humane."
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
MORE ON HUFFPOST:
Reduce your fashion carbon footprint by resisting the urge to buy on impulse. Avoid retail therapy at all cost, but if you absolutely must make a purchase, be sure to choose quality over quantity. Opt for a minimalist approach and build your wardrobe around timeless statement pieces that last.
Do your research and make purchases with companies that share your high moral standards. Find your socially responsible match with the help of corporate rankings like Goodness 500. The consumer education site ranks the top 500 businesses by how much money they give to charity, the percent of their total profit donated, the diversity of their executive staff, and their non-discrimination and environmental policies.
Shop more responsibly by withdrawing support from companies who exploit cheap labor and force their employees to work under unhealthy conditions. When in doubt, seek out fair trade certified labels on your items of interest. This not only ensures your new duds were made in a sustainable work environment, but it also certifies that whoever manufactured them was paid a living wage.
Thrifting is an ethical style maven’s best-kept secret. Whether you’re looking for a chic overcoat or vintage handbag, thrift and consignment shops have a seemingly limitless inventory of stylish duds. While there’s no way to guarantee your recycled finds were made under ethical labor conditions, relish in the fact that you’re keeping unwanted clothes from ending up in a local landfill.
You don’t have to forgo your love for animals in the name of fashion. Keep up with the coveted fur trend without skinning an animal and go faux.
Support sustainable fashion by cherry-picking eco-friendly designers like Ryan Jude Novelline who embrace the environmental and social impact of their work. Research suggests that some of the leading clothing brands continue to use hormone-disrupting toxic chemicals to manufacture their textiles. Steer clear of clothing made from synthetic materials and opt for natural or recycled fabrics.
Revamp your wardrobe without breaking the bank by adding a crafty touch to some of your more outdated pieces. Try carving up a pair of old denim to make cutoff shorts or adding studs to an old jacket for a rocker edge.
Before you toss them in the trash, donate or (if you’re pressed for cash) sell your undamaged clothes and accessories to secondhand stores or local charities. To make the most of your gift, seek out organizations specifically in need of clothing to donate your unwanted goods.
If you’re pressed for time and want to avoid the complicated process of decoding labels, try shopping at small local boutiques. Although their prices might be a little steep, at an independent shop, you’ll likely have better access to a shopowner who can give you details on how and under what conditions their pieces were made.
Look for beauty products without unnecessary additives. When shopping for cosmetics, read labels carefully and seek out other alternatives. The Suave Professionals® Natural Infusion collection has formulas that are free of parabens and dyes, making it a perfect fit!
Follow Camille Labchuk on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CamilleLabchuk