All charges against former Calgary MP Rob Anders have been dropped on what was supposed to be the first day of a two-week tax evasion trial.
Prosecutor Tyler Lord appeared in Calgary provincial court Monday and told Judge Heather Lamoureux the Crown had stayed all charges.
“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 conviction,” said Lord in a statement provided to CBC News.
Outside the courtroom, Anders’ lawyer Paul Brunnen told reporters his client was “very relieved.”
When the Crown stays a charge, prosecutors have a year to reopen the case, but that rarely happens.
Until Monday, Anders faced five charges under the Income Tax Act for alleged activity between 2012 to 2018, including three counts of making false or deceptive statements, obtaining a refund he was not entitled to and evading payment of taxes.
Anders was accused of failing to report more than $750,000 in income over a six-year period including alleged offences which overlapped with his time in government.
Convictions come with maximum penalities of two years in jail and fines between 50 and 200 per cent of the evaded taxes.
Police and court documents allege fraudulent rental expenses, mystery deposits as well as $750,000 in unreported income and capital gains hidden from the CRA by Anders.
The 50-year-old who helped found the Conservative Party of Canada, held his Calgary seat from 1997 to 2015, first for the Reform Party and then for the CPC.
In 2014, when Anders lost the nomination battle to Ron Liepert in the Calgary Signal Hill riding, ending a 18-year stint as MP, he said his only regret was that his government had not cut taxes more.
Anders 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.
Ahead of the 2014 nomination battle, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper pointed out Anders had voted for more than 160 tax cuts since being elected.
Controversy seemed to follow Anders when he was an MP. The staunch anti-abortionist twice fell asleep on the job, called Nelson Mandela a “terrorist” and got the boot from the veterans affairs committee after controversial comments about the NDP.