‘Very relieved’: Crown stays tax evasion charges against former Calgary MP Rob Anders

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and MP Rob Anders pose for a picture as they attend a Stampede breakfast at Heritage Park in Calgary, Sunday, July 8, 2007. Jeff McIntosh, THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Crown stayed all charges of tax evasion Monday against a former member of Parliament from Alberta.

A trial for Rob Anders, 50, was scheduled to begin in Calgary on five charges, some of which dated back to his time in politics.

But before it did, Crown counsel Tyler Lord informed Judge Heather Lamoureux that he was entering a stay of proceedings.

“Last week, new information came to my attention, the consideration of which led me to believe that I no longer had a reasonable prospect of getting a conviction,” Lord said outside court.

“He’s very relieved,” defence lawyer Paul Brunnen said of his client.

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Tax authorities alleged that Anders failed to report more than $750,000 in net income over five years. They accused him of evading taxes payments between 2012 and 2018, and of claiming refunds or credits he wasn’t entitled to receive between 2012 and 2015.

Anders was first elected as a Reform MP in 1997 and went on to represent his riding of Calgary West — as a Conservative in later years — until 2015. He was a co-founder of the Conservative Party of Canada.

He did not run in the 2015 federal election after losing the nomination in his redistributed riding. He tried to run in the rural riding of Bow River, but lost that candidacy bid as well.

Anders was not in court Monday.

“Mr. Anders was not required to come down today.” Brunnen told the court. “There’s a bit of a collection of press people outside. We were a little concerned.”

Anders attracted media attention several times while he was in office. Saying Nelson Mandela was a “communist” and a “terrorist,” Anders was the sole parliamentarian to vote against making the anti-apartheid revolutionary an honorary citizen of Canada in 2001.

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In 2005, Anders used public funds to send pamphlets to residents in Richmond, B.C., far removed from his own riding. The leaflets included a survey question about homosexual marriage in a mailout otherwise addressing crime and crystal meth abuse.

Anders also served as a member of the veterans affairs committee in Stephen Harper’s government in 2011, but was removed a year later, partly based on his tendency to fall asleep during meetings.

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