EDMONTON (CP) - An apparently nonsensical language invented by an American who claims it could stop wars and bring consensus to religions is showing up in Canadian tax courts these days. People hoping to dodge income taxes have recently frustrated judges across the Prairies by citing David Wynn Miller's noun-heavy phrases known as "In The Truth."
Wynn Miller, a legal scholar based in Milwaukee, calls the language used in courts, printed in newspapers and taught in schools "fiction."
"If the court is using fiction and the defendant is using fact, the two can't translate," Wynn Miller said in a telephone interview.
In recent cases, Canadian judges have called the bizarre language "gibberish" and jailed its speakers for contempt or ordered them to undergo psychiatric tests.
Wynn Miller, 52, created his mathematically based language more than two decades ago and calls its adherents the Universal Postal Union.
He claims to have thousands of students - taught through the Internet and videotaped seminars - in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Kelowna, Edmonton and Montreal.
Earlier this month, Calgary naturopath Andrew Sereda was jailed for contempt of court after addressing a judge in Wynn Miller's truth language, which is peppered with odd punctuation.
The judge was not impressed when Sereda, 60, answered him, "With the sovereign, hyphen, authority of the Andrew, hyphen, William, colon, Sereda is for the stating of the authority of the noun."
Sereda, who had been fined earlier for not filing a tax return, was in court on a charge of failing to comply with a judge's order to co-operate with tax officials. He later apologized in court and promised to shape up, but could not be reached for comment on whether he still uses the language.
Paul and Myrna Schuck, who live 30 kilometres north of Calgary, spent 19 days in jail in August after they tried unsuccessfully to use it to defend themselves on tax charges. The Schucks would not agree to an interview about their beliefs.
In Winnipeg, a judge in a recent mischief trial ordered a psychiatric assessment for Denise Rosenberg after she claimed that her status as a "postmaster" exempted her from prosecution in Canada. Rosenberg and her husband had made similar arguments in 1999 before Revenue Canada seized all their belongings for failing to pay more than $1 million in back taxes.
Although she was found fit to stand trial on the mischief charge, Rosenberg continued to stump courtroom officials with her incoherent speeches.
As in Sereda's case, several supporters came out to rally behind Rosenberg's cause, including a translator who wanted to use "truth language technology."
John Carpay, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, receives a few calls a year from tax dodgers who subscribe to similar beliefs.
While the federation would like to see taxes lowered or eliminated through constitutional methods, Carpay said he cannot support people who call him with odd theories.
"I occasionally get a phone call from these people and they seem to enjoy arguing very much," he said.
"It may be a loose network. They think they have it all figured out. They refer to sources and documents that I think are not authoritative."
Ron Quinn, spokesman for Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, said these fringe groups try to stall the court system but have yet to win a tax case.
"There is nothing wrong with protesting taxes," he said, adding there is a formal procedure to do so.
"But I get a little concerned that people are hurt by these groups."
Wynn Miller - who hasn't been allowed into Canada to give his seminars for at least two years - says most people who contact him have tax problems. But his true cause is to "fix the language."
"Has anyone on the planet Earth ever gone to war over a math problem?" he asked. "No. There has never been a dispute over math. It is absolute science. Language is flawed."
© Copyright 2001 The Canadian Press