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Alberta

Lawyer for former MP Rob Anders needs month to review evidence in tax evasion case

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CALGARY — A court case involving former Conservative MP Rob Anders has been adjourned a month to give his lawyer time to review an extensive amount of material related to tax evasion charges against his client. 

Court documents show that tax authorities allege Anders failed to report more than $750,000 in net income over five years.   

He faces five charges, including tax evasion, some of which date back to his time as a member of Parliament.   

Anders, 48, was elected as a Reform MP in 1997 and went on to to represent his Calgary riding until 2015.  

He did not appear in court in person Friday, but his lawyer, Paul Brunnen, asked for the matter to be adjourned until Dec. 18.  

Anders has reserved his plea.   

The government alleges that in 2012, 2013, and 2014 Anders under-reported his income, which led to multiple charges of making false statements on a tax return.   

Prosecutors further allege that between 2012 and 2018, he evaded payment of taxes, and between 2012 and 2015 he claimed refunds or credits he wasn’t entitled to receive.   

An application to obtain a search warrant for his Calgary home was filed in March 2013 by the Canada Revenue Agency and outlines some allegations in the investigation.   

The charges stem from an audit in 2012 and 2013 that found reported net rental losses on properties in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario at the same time as there were “unexplained” deposits in Anders’s bank account. It’s alleged he understated his income by $750,000.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.   

In 2012, members of Parliament made about $157,000 a year, and by 2014 they were making about $163,000.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 20, 2020.

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Alberta

Calgary panda pair heading home to China after pandemic crimps zoo’s bamboo supplies

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CALGARY — The Calgary Zoo says two giant pandas are on their way home to China today.

The zoo said in May that it would be sending the pair back early because the COVID-19 pandemic was making it difficult to source bamboo.

The plant makes up 99 per cent of the animals’ diet and the zoo has said it was an expensive and all-consuming effort to cobble together supplies from across North America.

The zoo says on Twitter it was a difficult decision to send the pandas home three years earlier than planned.

It says it took months of hard work to secure international permits to get the pandas home.

The zoo posted photos of reams of paperwork needed for the journey, the crates that were to carry the pandas and the Lufthansa Cargo plane that was to take them to China.

The two adults, Er Shun and Da Mao, were on loan from China to Canadian zoos as part of a 10-year deal signed in 2012. They were to stay in Calgary until 2023.

Two cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, were born in Toronto in 2015. They were sent to China as planned in January.

The price tag to have the pandas in Calgary was around $30 million, including $14.4 million for the Panda Passage exhibit itself. Expanded parking lots, washrooms and restaurants were also required to accommodate an expected influx of visitors.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta adds 700 enforcers to stop COVID-19 rule-breakers as hospitalizations climb

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CALGARY — Alberta is giving 700 more peace officers the power to enforce COVID-19 restrictions as hospitalizations for the virus continue to climb in the province. 

“We are not asking these officers to stop cold their day-to-day priorities or to harass responsible Albertans going about their everyday lives,” Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said Friday, as Alberta reported 1,227 new COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths. 

Police officers and health inspectors also have the ability to enforce the rules. 

Federal data shows that as of Friday, Alberta had the highest seven-day infection rate in Canada with 209 cases per 100,000 people. 

Alberta has 405 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 86 in intensive care. A week ago, there were 55 patients in intensive care with COVID-19. 

Postponing surgeries is one of the ways the province is freeing up space to accommodate more people severely ill with the virus. 

New measures came into effect Friday to help blunt the spike in cases. Private indoor social gatherings are banned, capacity limits have been imposed on stores and students between grades 7 and 12 switch to remote learning on Monday. 

Fines for breaking the rules range from $1,000 to $100,000 in extreme cases that make it to court. 

When asked whether there would be crackdowns on anti-mask rallies, Madu said police will make independent decisions. 

“But as minister of justice, my expectation is that those who are in violation of the measures that we have put in place would have to be held accountable.”

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said she is disappointed to hear about Alberta Health Services inspectors being verbally abused. 

“Nobody deserves that, least of all the people who are working to keep all of us safe,” she said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. 

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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november, 2020

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