Procedural wrangling between the Canada Revenue Agency and a local businessman accusing the federal government's tax collector of ruining him continued at the Prince George provincial courthouse Friday.
In a now long-running court battle, Irvin Leroux is alleging that deliberate and negligent conduct by CRA officials caused him to lose his home, his business and his life savings. He's seeking an award for damages.
Following a B.C. Appeals Court ruling in February that dismissed claims that his charter rights were violated, Leroux and his counsel submitted a redrafted statement of claim that is significantly shorter and more focused but still raised concerns for CRA.
Appearing before Justice Richard Goepel on Friday, CRA lawyer Jason Levine asked that several paragraph's from Leroux's most recent statement of claim be struck, arguing they were either an abuse of process, frivolous or vexatious or disclosed no reasonable claim.
He also spoke against Leroux's claim that the CRA has been using legal tactics to have the case thrown out before a trial is held. The CRA is "eager" to have the matter heard on its merits, Levine said, but Leroux's claims - now in their third draft - remain deficient.
Levine argued the claim, as drafted, will cause "big problems" in terms of determining what information to produce at the various stages of the proceedings.
"That is why, when we're bringing these motions to strike, it's not we're trying to be extremely difficult and want to prevent Mr. Leroux from having his day in court," Levine said. "It's because we want to have an efficient trial."
Up until Friday, there had been only one previous motion to strike paragraphs from Leroux's statements of claim, Leroux said, adding it was partially successful from CRA's perspective.
Leroux, who was operating an RV park and pursuing a residential development near Valemount, is alleging that in October 1996, CRA officials entered his home without authority to conduct an audit, then lost or destroyed his records.
The CRA then offered to reassess Leroux but grossly reinflated the figures, Leroux further claims, after he was unable to produce the very records the CRA had lost or destroyed and that a now deceased CRA auditor, Randal Roy Hansen, then sought a $25,000 bribe to make the problem go away.
When Leroux refused to pay, the CRA issued a notice of assessment totalling $542,391 in unpaid taxes based on the inflated figures and then brought collection and enforcement proceedings against Leroux that impaired his access to credit and caused him to lose his business, it is further alleged.
Levine asked Goepel to strike paragraphs relating to Hansen's alleged extortion attempt arguing that, in contrast to Leroux's old claim, he failed to show a link between that action and the damages Leroux subsequently suffered.
However, Goepel ruled the CRA should instead apply to seek particulars purported to support that allegation.
Levine did succeed in having allegations that Hansen and one other CRA official unlawfully entered Leroux's home to conduct an audit struck from the claim as contravening rules against introducing new claims into statements. Instead, Leroux's counsel will now have to apply to have that allegation included in the statement.
Further, a claim that Hansen had died from a drug-induced heart attack or an overdose of drugs was amended to delete the CRA as the source of that information.
Leroux's fight has drawn national attention and, in March 2010, the Canadian Constitution Foundation, an advocacy group dedicated to defending Canadians constitutional freedoms through education, communication and litigation, retained a lawyer on Lerouxs behalf.
None of the allegations have yet been proven in court.