A monument of sorts meant to commemorate the removal of Doukhobor children from their families in the 1950s was considered an affront by some. It lies semi-finished in New Denver

Fischer not helping himself

As he is tried in absentia, it’s increasingly difficult to envision any outcome for Warren Fischer that doesn’t involve jail.

As he is tried in absentia for tax evasion, it’s increasingly difficult to envision any outcome for Warren Fischer that doesn’t involve jail. The co-founder of Nelson’s Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences avoided entering the courtroom last week as the charges were spelled out against him.

So far, Fischer has not exactly denied failing to pay $66,000 in income taxes, but rather argued that by claiming personal sovereignty, he isn’t obligated to do so. Adherents of this fanciful notion — and there are many of them — believe statute law is contractual and requires consent. However, the courts have consistently ruled this is rubbish.

Fischer, whose pre-trial appearances were bizarre to say the least, may have taken his cue from Chilliwack’s Russell Porisky, sentenced last year to 4½ years in prison for counselling hundreds of people not to pay income tax using the natural person theory. (Porisky is appealing his conviction and has reportedly been released on bail.)

Canada Revenue Agency investigators testified that when search warrants were executed on Fischer’s home, they found material related to Porisky’s Paradigm Education Group. A Paradigm rep apparently stopped by while the search was underway and offered a business card.

One of Porisky’s disciples, former Nelson dentist Eva Sydor, was convicted in 2006 of nine counts relating to failure to report almost $1 million in income and received 18 months in prison and a $244,000 fine. She served her time, but appealed the conviction, arguing she was the victim of a conspiracy.

Although he is alleged to have evaded paying a much smaller amount, Fischer’s defence, such as it is, isn’t doing him much good. As the old saying goes, nothing is certain in life but death and taxes.

TRIBUNAL TRIBULATIONS: Although a long-awaited ruling last week from the BC Human Rights Tribunal must be bitterly disappointing for members of the Doukhobor group known as the New Denver Survivors, it is hardly surprising.

The group claimed discrimination in the provincial government’s response to an ombudsman’s report suggesting they deserved an apology and compensation for being removed from their homes as children in the 1950s and sent to a New Denver residential school.

But their case was severely hamstrung by the resignation of their lawyer on the eve of the tribunal hearing, for reasons never made public. Even if they’d had professional representation, I’m not sure the outcome — the complaint was dismissed — would have been different.

The case didn’t revolve around their mistreatment as children, but instead the government’s dealings with them between 2000 and 2004. Among other things, a monument of sorts meant to commemorate the injustice was considered an affront by some. (It lies semi-finished in New Denver, without anything to explain its significance.)

The tribunal adjudicator concluded that while she sympathized with the complainants, she could not find they were discriminated against on the base of race, ancestry, or religion.

What’s sad is how all of this probably could have been avoided with a mere apology. This, former attorney general Geoff Plant insisted in his testimony, was impossible for liability reasons. (Legislation has since been introduced allowing government to apologize without exposing itself to lawsuits.)

“The value of a sincere apology cannot be underestimated,” the tribunal adjudicator noted.

Those Survivors who haven’t already given up are still waiting for one, probably in vain.

EAST IS EAST, WEST IS WEST: Moving from west to east in our region, voters get progressively fewer choices in next month’s provincial election. Five people are running in Boundary-Simikameen, including two independents. There are four names on the ballot in Kootenay West, with two independents, while Nelson-Creston has three candidates and Kootenay East just two.

The NDP and Liberals are the only parties fielding hopefuls in all four ridings, while the Greens have nominees in Boundary-Similkameen and Nelson-Creston, and the Conservatives have none after punting Mischa Popoff in Boundary-Similkameen over controversial comments about single mothers.

 

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