About $ 10,000 and a comforter with a message for border agents: Toronto man’s ‘civil disobedience’ leads to lengthy court battle

When Ignac Nick Hozjan arrived in Toronto on September 21, 2018 from the Philippines with his wife and baby, he knew what the airport drill would be like.

For the fourteenth time in a row, Canada Border Services Agency officers would take him to a secondary check and his belongings would be searched. What they’d find: Handwritten messages like “CBSA are bullies and idiots.”

On this occasion, Hozjan had added something new for the officers searching his bag: a specially purchased seven-inch flesh-colored dildo, emblazoned with the phrase: “Rooster Award”, dedicated to the officer who started the one-man of Hozjan. crusade against the “tyranny” of the CBSA.

It’s a journey that, so far, has included allegations of arbitrary and invasive searches by CBSA agents, criminal charges that Hozjan says were brought to intimidate, and a constitutional complaint for nearly five hours in custody.

Hozjan’s fight with the Canadian border agency started a year earlier with a dispute at the airport for the equivalent of roughly $ 10,000 in cash he was carrying, $ 8,630 in US dollars and $ 245 in Canadian, to be exact. For the CBSA, using the Bank of Canada interest rate, that amount resulted in a total value of $ 10,500 Canadian, $ 500 over the ceiling. The full amount would have to be seized.

For Hozjan, 60, using that rate was absurd. If he had exchanged the US dollars at the Pearson airport currency exchange office upon arrival, it would have been several hundred less than $ 10,000, he said, adding that he also showed the officer his online bank statement showing who had withdrawn the money. money from your own bank account.

Finally, he asked why the officer was being such an “idiot”.

It was after this, Hozjan said during his criminal case in an application alleging that his constitutional rights had been violated. that the officer went to check the police database to see if he had a criminal record (he doesn’t have any) and conducted a two-hour search of his belongings and his phone. Hozjan said the officer spent nearly five minutes looking at the photographs on his phone, including some intimate images of Hozjan and his wife.

“I felt so embarrassed. I felt so violated, ”said Hozjan. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before in my life.”

Hozjan alleges in a court application that while the officer was leering at the images, he asked why he was not bringing his “beautiful Filipino wife” back to Canada.

In the end, they told Hozjan that he could pay a fine of $ 250 and that the coin would be returned to him, which he did.

“Have a good night and I’ll see you here for the next six years,” the officer said.

Hozjan would later discover that he had been placed on a list that would lead to his removal for examination every time he crossed the border. He filed a complaint, but it was rejected. He also made multiple increasingly furious and unsuccessful attempts to complain directly to senior CBSA officials, including the agency’s director, John Ossowski.

So Hozjan, a Toronto mortgage broker who retired early, decided to participate in what his attorney Christopher Murphy described in court as “civil disobedience.”

In addition to the paper messages he left in his bags, he wore a white T-shirt emblazoned with the message: “CBSA officers are the enemy of the Canadian people / CBSA terrorizes Canadians.” Once, returning from the United States, he pasted the messages on his car windows when they took him to the secondary screen.

By the time of his return in September 2018 via Pearson, he had not only added the dildo, but had also recorded 1.2 million Indonesian rupees, around $ 100 Canadian, and well under the $ 10,000 limit, around of his penis.

It’s new this time, too: Hozjan is being held in a cell for five hours facing criminal charges, a lengthy court battle and the prospect of a jail term.

His nine-day trial was scheduled to begin earlier this month in a Brampton courtroom, but it suddenly failed a week before it began.

“I am who I am,” Hozjan said in an interview after the charges were dropped. “I have principles in some things. Sometimes I suffer for it, but it is for a purpose. “

A CBSA spokesperson said the agency has no comment on the decision to drop the charges.

Although Hozjan granted CBSA permission to answer questions about his case, the CBSA response did not address whether the initial search for Hozjan’s phone and belongings was justified or carried out appropriately.

“Personal digital devices can only be examined if there is convincing evidence that evidence of a violation of border law will be found,” the spokesperson said. “CBSA agents are trained to conduct all border examinations in a professional manner with respect to privacy.”

The CBSA’s response also did not address Hozjan’s allegations that he was unfairly subjected to searches that had nothing to do with a currency violation, or why he was sent to a secondary checkpoint every time he crossed the border.

“When an individual with a violation history crosses the border, they may be subject to more frequent and detailed screening,” a spokesperson said. “This is to ensure that the traveler complies with border requirements.”

Hozjan and his family arrived at Pearson Airport around 7 pm on September 21, 2018. Hozjan’s wife had her customs form accepted at a machine, but Hozjan’s form was rejected twice and they had to stand in line to speak to a CBSA officer.

Hozjan said another CBSA officer surprised him by approaching them while he was in line and saying, “I saw you looking at me, do you have a problem with me?” That officer had recognized Hozjan from previous interactions, according to the Crown.

In response, Hozjan said, “How the hell do these guys get away with this behavior?” And he unzipped his jacket, revealing his T-shirt comment about CBSA.

A CBSA supervisor began questioning him. In response to a question about whether he had drugs, Hozjan took out a small bag with a white powder and said: “It could be drugs or not.” Then he opened the bag and tasted it (it was baking soda for his acid reflux) and explained what it was.

Hozjan was arrested for importing a narcotic and hindering an officer. Half an hour later, they told him that the white powder had been tested and found not to be a narcotic, but they would still charge him with hindering an officer.

In his request alleging that his constitutional rights were violated, Hozjan argues that he could have been released at that time with a future court hearing. Instead, they held him for another four and a half hours while his wife and baby waited, which he says is part of a pattern of intimidation by CBSA.

“The CBSA detained (Hozjan) for the purpose of punishing him for what the CBSA mistakenly believed was the lack of respect shown to the CBSA by (Hozjan) in each of his re-entries to Canada,” argued the request. “Rather than showing disrespect … (Hozjan) was simply making it known that, in his view, the CBSA was abusing its authority and that the CBSA should be required to answer to a third-party oversight committee.” .

Hozjan denied ever being violent or threatening to any CBSA officer, saying he was falsely described as violent twice – claims that he said would be refuted by looking at CCTV footage of the interactions.

In its response to the status request, the Crown argued that Hozjan was detained because a criminal investigation had to be completed and two CBSA investigators had to be called on hold, which took approximately three hours. The Crown also said that Hozjan repeatedly responded to questions by saying “you don’t understand.”

The Crown denied that there had been “ill will or animosity” towards Hozjan that led to him being detained during the five hours, and said that his rights were respected, despite Hozjan “mocking” the officers.

A CBSA spokesman said his case “followed the standard process for people charged with committing crimes at a CBSA port of entry.”

No reasons were given in court earlier this month as to why the charges of the new Hozjan were suddenly dropped.

“It has been Hozjan’s position from the beginning that he did not commit any crime, he was exercising his right to freedom of expression, it was an act of civil disobedience to draw attention to what he believed to be intimidating behavior on the part of certain CBSA members, ”Murphy said. during Zoom’s brief hearing.

“Mr. Hozjan has been facing these charges for almost three years and I thank my friend for postponing the process, but in all the circumstances of this case, Your Honor, I maintain that this matter lasted much longer than it should have.”

“Mr. Hozjan, I wish you all the best of luck in the future,” said US Attorney Robert Morin.

In an interview, Murphy said the charges were likely dropped due to late release issues of documents discovered by Hozjan, including that the investigator’s notes they had requested that they were told did not exist were actually available and opened the door to more. questions about whether the investigation was carried out. by the CBSA animus to Hozjan.

“Sometimes you have to face a bully. And that’s what Mr. Hozjan did, ”Murphy said.

Hozjan said he had been looking forward to his day in court, but his wife, in particular, is happy that he is no longer at risk of going to jail.

He maintains that he is not “anti-authority” and says his actions were motivated, in part, because there are many others, particularly those who are not citizens, are not in a position to challenge the CBSA.

“I admit that I am a bit of a nonconformist when it comes to rebelling and letting people know when it comes to misdeeds by the authorities,” he said. “It’s funny too, really.”

He has traveled since the arrest, before the start of the pandemic. He said they still took him to the secondary check, but he was only asked about money and his bags were not searched, a change he believes comes from the new scrutiny the charges brought into his file.

What follows is a lawsuit, Hozjan said, but it’s not about the money: After covering his legal costs, he would give the rest to anti-bullying charities. What he really wants, he says, is for the currency violation to be recognized as unfair, to be removed from the secondary picklist, to change interest rate policy, and to have civil oversight independent of the CBSA.

He also hopes to meet with the CBSA director to discuss all of this. Although Hozjan has repeatedly called for Ossowski to be fired in the past, he hopes they can now have a constructive conversation.

“Right now, it’s a terrible, terrible experience,” he said.

In response to a question about whether such a meeting would be possible, a CBSA spokesperson said the agency welcomes comments, acknowledgment and complaints online.


1 thought on “About $ 10,000 and a comforter with a message for border agents: Toronto man’s ‘civil disobedience’ leads to lengthy court battle”

  1. I have found many of the front line CBSA staff to be extremely rude. I always declare what I buy…send me in to pay GST or don’t. But, you have no need, or right, to be deliberately rude or antagonistic when I am reentering my OWN Country.
    I get it, you wanted to be a real cop and didn’t pass muster. Save your power tripping for your friends and family.


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