[Thanks to Rider Cooey for passing this on.]

Terror and trauma
in wake of revenue agency raid

Peter Ladner, Business in Vancouver, March 20-26, 2012


On Monday, April 6, 2009, at 8 a.m. business owner Angus McAllister was roused from sleep by yelling and pounding at his front door.

“Open the door. It’s the police. We’ll break in the door if you don’t open it now.”

McAllister had been sleeping soundly. He and his wife Anya had just moved into their 700-square-foot ground floor apartment on North Vancouver’s Chesterfield Avenue the day before. They had been up until 2 a.m. unpacking boxes. Until then they thought the only person who knew they were there was the friend who had helped them move.

It was a difficult move, triggered by the loss of their entire life savings in the search for their mentally distressed daughter Kasia, then 28. After she had gone missing for a year, they had found her, emaciated, eating trash, in an alley in a European city.

They paid to have her airlifted back to Vancouver, and she had just been accepted into Riverview.

“It had been four years of hell,” McAllister recalled.

They had finally found some relief.

Through it all he had managed to keep running his business, McAllister Opinion Research, started in 2001 after he had worked as vice-president, Global Research with Angus Reid, and vice-president with Environics International in Toronto.

“The door was pulsing with their pounding,” he said. “I twisted the door handle and 14 people came flying into this tiny space.”

Two RCMP officers had their guns raised, others were wearing flak jackets. He was sure they had targeted the wrong address until a woman shouted at him: “Are you Angus Takao McAllister?”

Dumbfounded, wearing only his underpants, he said he was and asked if he could put some pants on.

“Someone grabbed my neck, pushed me back, and said, ‘Stay where you are.’ Then they started yelling ‘Where is your cash? You need to tell us where you keep your cash, weapons and jewelry.’”

His wife was terrified. A native of Poland, she grew up in daily fear of her mother being taken away by NKVD secret police for her political activities supporting the Solidarity movement, as had happened to many of her family’s friends.

She was sure that she and her husband were going to be taken away. Compounding her anxiety were fears that Kasia would come home and have a panic attack when she saw the police.

She showed them her jewelry: “This is all I have.”

For the next four hours, the couple watched as the police and other agents, who turned out to be from Canada Revenue Agency, went through every drawer, closet, desk and box in the small apartment. They seized computers, hard drives, boxes of business records, personal journals dating back to 2001, reports and files.

Business projects he was tracking live on his computers were disrupted.

“The agents looked under the mattress, put tape everywhere, itemizing everything,” says McAllister.

Their findings were later compiled in a 300-page catalogue of things removed from the apartment, each annotated with comments like “notebook, 2nd drawer, 3rd pile, at the back, 2nd item from the bottom.”

“I asked them why they were doing this, and they said they were after me and my company, and that I had the right to remain silent, that this was a criminal investigation.”

Then he got a call from his assistant at his downtown office, scene of a simultaneous similar raid. “She was crying, panicking, terrified out of her wits,” says McAllister.

Another 14 agents were gathering up records and files at the office. When McAllister went downtown a few hours later, he asked the people there who they were and what they were doing.

“You don’t need to know who we work for,” one man told him.

Next week: Whether McAllister was politically targeted, how his business was devastated, CRA’s confidential admission of error, the ongoing emotional, financial and business trauma from this raid and how this all relates to today’s political climate.

[That article didn’t appear. Ladner’s March 27 column stated: “Due to unexpected privacy and legal concerns, the conclusion to last week’s column on the CRA/RCMP raid on Angus McAllister’s home and office has been postponed to a future issue.”]

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