A longtime Russell-area lawyer, who had been sentenced to 15 months of house arrest for tax evasion, has been disbarred.
Brian Langford was found guilty last year of four offences under the Law Society of Manitoba’s code of professional conduct, including three counts of failing to discharge his responsibilities with integrity and one count of discouraging public respect for the administration of justice.
Langford, 76, had sought a reprimand, arguing he had been punished by the court following his 2016 conviction for tax evasion, which included a $99,000 fine.
While Langford’s actions had no effect on his clients, he "has failed to act with integrity for years," and "just as importantly, is unwilling to admit his failure," a law society panel said in a recent written decision.
Langford was found guilty in provincial court of evading nearly $100,000 in taxes over nine years and filing fraudulent GST returns. Langford, who admitted he hadn't paid his taxes, argued the collection of income tax was unconstitutional, likening it to "money laundering" and compared the federal government to Adolf Hitler.
According to an agreed statement of facts provided to court prior to his 2016 conviction, Langford made $622,820 from 2002 to 2010, but filed income tax returns claiming he had no income, resulting in unpaid taxes of $99,053 and $39,647 in GST.
Langford claimed the federal government had no right to collect taxes it later returned to Manitoba in the form of transfer or equalization payments, arguing the federal government can only use tax dollars to pay for federally funded responsibilities.
Provincial court Judge Catherine Carlson said accepting Langford’s "outdated" argument would lead to disparity among the provinces in terms of the services they could provide.
"For the citizens of a poorer province to have comparable services to those in a richer province, they would have to be subject to significantly higher taxes, which would create significant inequality amongst Canadians," Carlson said at the time.
Langford repeated the same arguments at his 2020 disbarment hearing, the law society panel said.
"Despite the fact that Mr. Langford has no formal discipline history… he knowingly filed false income tax returns for nine years," the panel said. "He never attempted to file a formal and legal dispute as to the constitutionality of the income tax system. Rather, he simply waited to see if he would ever be caught. When he was, he put forward a defence — that was summarily rejected by the courts — and yet he continued to repeat the same discredited position to the panel."
Langford was ordered to pay $10,000 in hearing costs.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.