Government takes legal action against Edmonton MLA for unpaid taxes

Beleaguered Edmonton MLA Peter Sandhu is being chased by another high-profile creditor – the Alberta government.

Peter Sandhu resigned from Tory caucus after CBC News investigation

Beleaguered Edmonton MLA Peter Sandhu is being chased by another high-profile creditor – the Alberta government.

Court documents show Alberta Treasury has obtained a court order against Sandhu to collect more than $4,500 in unpaid corporate taxes from his company, NewView Homes.

Alberta Treasury obtained the court order on May 16, two days after Sandhu resigned from the Tory caucus following a CBC News investigation which revealed Sandhu, or NewView, had been sued dozens of times by creditors.

The investigation also revealed Sandhu, had failed to disclose his liabilities to the ethics commissioner, and had lied in a sworn affidavit filed in a lawsuit.

Alberta Treasury claims Sandhu has owed $4,626.24 in taxes since Dec. 31, 2011.

MLA Peter Sandhu or his company has been sued dozens of times. (Alberta Legislature)

"I think that it may be time for Mr. Sandhu to consider whether or not he should be still in elected office," Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said. "Maybe he needs to take a leave of absence and deal with his affairs, and get them in order."

Through an executive assistant, Sandhu declined comment because he is now the subject of an investigation by Alberta’s ethics commissioner. He has previously said he believes he will be exonerated by the ethics commissioner. Although he has resigned from the Tory caucus, Sandhu said he will continue to represent the constituents of Edmonton-Manning, where he was first elected in 2008.

Smith also filed a complaint to the RCMP asking for a criminal investigation related to the false affidavit sworn by Sandhu.

In a letter dated May 28, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dale McGowan told Smith that since Sandhu swore the affidavit as a private citizen and not as an MLA, the investigation was not within the national force’s purview. McGowan told Smith her complaint has been forwarded to the Edmonton Police Service.

Sandhu repaying some debts

Derek Fildebrandt of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said Sandhu is setting a bad example for the public.

"He shouldn’t be allowed to return to caucus," Fildebrandt said. "It is a bad example to set for other taxpayers. How do you expect you and me to want to pay our taxes, and do our job in contributing towards society, when politicians aren’t doing it?"

Court documents show Sandhu has paid off some debts that were the subject of litigation. Fancy Doors and Moulding had obtained a writ of enforcement in April against NewView Homes for more than $40,000. That debt has now been cleared.

NewView has also cleared a debt of more than $75,000 to DeeVee Electrical and another debt of more than $27,000 to Rolling Mix Concrete.

But court documents show that in addition to the Alberta Treasury debt, Sandhu also owes an excavation company more than $55,000.

Ethics commissioner investigating

As reported previously, even while NewView Homes failed to pay its creditors, Sandhu’s company continued to buy more properties. Land-title documents show that on May, 25, 2012, Sandhu and a partner bought a property in southwest Edmonton for nearly $233,000. Six days later, NewView Homes purchased two more properties in the same area for a total of nearly $470,000.

Under the provincial Conflicts of Interest Act, MLAs are required to disclose not only their assets, but also their liabilities, which include court judgments. The CBC News investigation found that Sandhu’s 2012 public MLA disclosure does not disclose the debts he recently repaid.

Sandhu's public disclosure statement to the ethics commissioner also does not list his corporate tax debt. In 2010, Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson disclosed the failure of Edmonton-Mill Woods Tory MLA Carl Benito to pay $8,000 in city property taxes.  Benito blamed the failure to pay his taxes on his wife, who he claimed had forgotten to pay the taxes. Sandhu, in his written statement to CBC News, claimed he has not been involved in the daily operation of NewView Homes since his election as an MLA in 2008. But several of his creditors have told CBC News they dealt directly with Sandhu repeatedly over the past several years, including in recent weeks. 

In a previous written statement to CBC News, Sandhu said he has "met regularly with the ethics commissioner" to discuss his personal finances.

"I think most Albertans, and certainly his constituents, are going to look at (Sandhu's unpaid taxes) and say, 'Is this somebody who should be in elected office?'" Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said.

"I think he is not demonstrating the very high standard which people hold their elected representatives to."