January 9, 2019 7:48 pm
Updated: January 10, 2019 10:15 am

N.S. premier ‘comfortable’ with new staffer who had issues with Canada Revenue Agency in 2013

Premier Stephen McNeil talks at the legislature in Halifax on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018.

The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is “comfortable” that his newly hired director of operations had her 2013 issues with the Canada Revenue Agency dealt with and resolved.

“The premier was aware and is comfortable with the fact [the issue] was dealt with and resolved,” a spokesperson for the premier’s office wrote in an email on Wednesday evening.

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Heather Chiasson, who the premier’s office announced was taking the position on Wednesday, is a former senior official with the Liberal Party of Canada and, until Wednesday’s announcement, served as a special assistant to Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

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But Chiasson was previously fined $11,000 by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in 2013 for failing to report income over three taxation years.

Her appeal of the fine was dismissed by Justice Johanne D’Auray of the Tax Court of Canada in May 2014, according to a decision on CanLII.

According to the decision, the CRA ruled in 2013 that Chaisson had failed to report income for the taxation years of 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Due to her failure to report income multiple times in a four-year span, CRA assessed a fine “equal to 10 per cent of the unreported income.”

Chiasson argued to the court that she was unaware of the consequences of her repeated failure to report income and that the CRA should have warned her about the possible fine.

But D’Auray disagreed and dismissed her appeal.

“I understand that Ms. Chiasson’s failure to report her income was not deliberate,” D’Auray wrote.

“[But] the case law is clear in establishing that ignorance of the law or an error in the interpretation of legislation does not constitute a reasonable mistake of fact.”

Chiasson told the Globe and Mail in 2016 that the CRA cancelled the fine in 2015 as part of a budget decision that removed penalties for people who are sloppy in filing their income taxes.

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McNeil welcomed Chiasson to the position in a warm message on Wednesday, despite her previous issues.

“I am very pleased to welcome Heather to our office,” McNeil is quoted as saying in the press release.

“Her background and her deep connection to Nova Scotia make her an ideal fit for our team, and I look forward to working with her.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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