Former Calgary MP Rob Anders faces tax evasion charges

Former Calgary MP Rob Anders — a long-time crusader for lower taxes who helped found the Conservative Party of Canada — has been charged amid allegations of tax evasion during the time he held his seat, federal prosecutors have confirmed to CBC News.

Anders faces five charges laid earlier in September under the Income Tax Act with offences alleged between 2012 and 2018, as first reported by the National Post on Tuesday.

The former Calgary West MP held his seat from 1997 to 2015, first for the Reform Party and then for the Conservative Party.

He faces:

  • Three charges of making a false or deceptive statement for the tax years 2012, 2013 and 2014.
  • One charge of obtaining or claiming a refund to which he was not entitled or in amounts greater than to which he was entitled for the tax years 2012, 2013 and 2014.
  • One charge of evading payment of taxes between April 1, 2012, and June 30, 2015.

Prosecutor Tyler Lord said the Crown will proceed summarily — meaning if Anders is found guilty, the penalties are less than proceeding by indictment.

If convicted, Anders could face up to two years in jail and fines between 50 and 200 per cent of the evaded taxes.

“I thank you for the opportunity but I have been advised to decline comment at this time,” said Anders in response to a request for comment from CBC News. 

Anders’ controversial history

Anders was known for his strong social and fiscal conservatism and was a controversial political figure during his time in office. 

He gained attention for his sometimes inflammatory statements, including his opposition to granting honorary citizenship to Nelson Mandela, branding the South African leader a communist and a terrorist.   

In fact, when then Prime Minister Stephen Harper endorsed Anders in 2014 for the Conservative nomination in the newly created riding of Calgary Signal Hill, he noted the MP had voted for more than 160 tax cuts since being elected.

Anders, a staunch conservative, supported initiatives from the Harper government to offer various tax breaks to Canadians. He was also an outspoken proponent of getting rid of the GST.

After losing the nomination battle to former Alberta finance minister Ron Liepert in 2014, Anders said his only regret was that the Harper government hadn’t cut taxes more.

Upon leaving office as an MP, Anders was set to collect a pension of nearly $100,000, according to a Canadian Tax Payers Federation estimate.

When Anders was first elected as a Reform Party member in 1997, the party’s platform included a pledge for its MPs not to accept a pension.

Former MPs Preston Manning, Lee Morrison and Werner Schmidt, who were elected in 1993, are believed to be the only three original Reformers who opted out of receiving a parliamentary pension.

Anders was issued a promise to appear and is scheduled to be in a Calgary court on Oct. 30.

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