One of Canada's most prestigious violinists is battling the Canada Border Services Agency in Federal Court after he was fined $120,000 for failing to declare nearly half a million dollars in musical instruments.
Yosuke Kawasaki claims when he was crossing the border into Canada in 2012 the CBSA wrongfully seized his $385,000 violin and three bows worth $90,000, $6,800 and $2,000 each.
The Japanese-American musician, who was born and trained in New York, is currently concertmaster of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and travels extensively to perform around the world.
According to court documents filed in Vancouver in December 2013, Yosuke was fined $120,950 plus PST for failing to declare the instruments at the Lansdowne crossing on Dec. 11, 2012. He then paid a $20,000 partial payment for the release of the instruments a few weeks later.
Kawasaki wouldn't comment when contacted by CBC News, but court document indicate he is asking to have the fine revoked and deposit refunded on the basis that he had the right to import his pricey violin and bows duty free because he entered Canada as a settler, and because of the terms of the Schedule to the Customs Tariff.
Kawasaki also says the CBSA could have chosen less draconian punishment for a working virtuoso.
Bramwell Tovey, the conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, said red tape at the border has wrung sour notes from many an instrumentalist.
"All the time I think instrumentalists are having to think about issues like this. The loss of an instrument is traumatic," said Tovey
According to the documents, Kawasaki's violin was made in 1833 by Joannes Franciscus Pressenda of Turin, Italy. His top bow was made in 1850 by Dominque Pecatte, and is mounted with ebony and silver.