FATCA: You Have An Option, Sirs. You Could Do Better.

Dear Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Kevin Shoom, (Senior Chief, International Taxation, Finance Canada) and Terry Campbell (President Canadian Bankers Association):

“You had an option, Sir.”

Those words, which Brian Mulroney thundered at John Turner in 1984, changed Canadian history.  Going into the leadership debate, the Liberals had a comfortable lead. Instead, Mr. Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives were elected with 211 seats, the largest in Canadian history.
Here’s what else Mr. Mulroney said:

“You had an option, Sir. You could have said ‘I’m not going to do it. This is wrong for Canadians and I’m not going to ask them to pay the price.’
“You had an option, Sir. You had an option to say ‘No.’ You chose to say ‘Yes’.

Here’s more from Mr. Mulroney:

If I may say respectfully, that is not good enough for Canadians…That is an avowal of failure…
“You had an option, Sir. You could have done better.”

Canadian Bankers Association has said repeatedly they are opposed to FATCA, but they must comply. To do so, they are advocating an Intergovernmental Agreement which will allow Canadian banks to violate rights of Canadians based on one basic factor–place of birth.

“If I may say respectfully, that is not good enough for Canadians.”

Except for saying an agreement is near (for almost a year), Canadian government has been totally quiet on the issue of FATCA for months to the people most directly affected–Canadian citizens and residents born in United States and their Canadian families.  This has been a nightmare for us.

“If I may say respectfully, that is not good enough for Canadians.”


“You (have) the option to say ‘No’ If you (choose) to say ‘Yes’…that is an avowal of failure.
“You have an option, Sirs. You could do better”

Please do better for Canadian citizens and residents. Please tell US they cannot FATCA Canadian citizens, residents and financial institutions.
Canadian government could do better by telling Canadian banks they must adhere to Canadian banking, privacy and human rights laws.
Canadian government could do better by telling Canadian citizens born in United States they are not second class citizens and residents in their country of choice.
Canadian government could do better by assuring Canadian citizens and residents Canadian laws will not be changed to accommodate a foreign government.
Canadian government could do better by ensuring rights of all Canadians are respected under Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, regardless of where they were born.
Most importantly, Canadian government could do better by refusing to sign an Intergovernmental Agreement which signs away rights of Canadian citizens and residents to a foreign government.
Canadian banks could do better by assuring Canadian citizens and residents born in United States they have the same rights to manage their finances with confidence and in privacy with their banks as all other Canadian customers.
Canadian banks could do better by refusing to threaten to
close accounts of customers born in United States simply because they will not consent to having their financial information divulged to a foreign government.
Canadian banks could do better by ensuring they do not have two tiers of service, respect and privacy for Canadian customers based on place of birth..
Not doing the above is your “avowal of failure” to Canadians.
“You could say No…You could do better.”
Canadians need you to do better.  We need you to do it now.
Lynne Swanson
London Ontario

15 thoughts on “FATCA: You Have An Option, Sirs. You Could Do Better.

  1. Another heartfelt post Blaze! Bravo! It definitely needs to be shared with our politicians and bankers.
    I was just thinking that if Canada says ‘NO’, it’s not just Canadians who benefit, it’s everyone, in every country, now, and in future generations. Someone has to start saying ‘NO’ to USA; Canada has been handed that opportunity – more like an obligation – on a silver platter.

  2. Well done!!! Interesting use of the most remembered and cited Canadian debate moment..
    A random thought. I would think that for many of us, it didn’t take very long to realize and understand the full implications of FATCA, i.e, that it was an extremely nasty use of American economic power to extract money from other countries without giving anything back in return.
    With each draft of the FATCA regulations, comments were solicited by the IRS/Treasury. At first it likely seemed that this was a genuine attempt to respond to concerns and improve the regulations. Instead, the well researched and reasoned comments were basically ignored.
    What the world got in return was more and more pages of gibberish (from about 67 pages to 544 pages with another 38 or so pages of amendments so far). You would think that at some point both governments and financial institutions and their associations would realize that dealing with the USG was a lost cause. But, apparently, they didn’t. And the focus entirely shifted to compliance rather than resistance.
    If most of us could see the writing on the wall so soon, why couldn’t the bright lights in government and finance see it also?

  3. This again is an example of how Bizarro my world has become because of FATCA.
    My friends were rolling on the floor laughing when I declared a former member of the Mike Harris Cabinet (Flaherty) my hero when he initially spoke so strongly against FATCA.
    Friends were again keeling over yesterday when I was quoting Mulroney.
    Be my hero again, Mr. Flaherty. Do the right thing.
    “You have an option, Sir.”

  4. Yep. That sums it up well Hazy.
    In the Mulroney years, the Conservatives were still Progressive.
    Of course, the same is happening elsewhere. I read an article recently that said Nixon would be considered left wing by today’s Republicans and Eisenhower would be in “outer space.”

  5. @Hazy: I found the article. It’s by Noam Chomsky and was published in Belfast Telegraph.
    Chomsky wrote:

    There are virtually no moderate Republicans in what’s called the Republican Party and virtually no liberal Democrats in what’s called the Democratic [sic] Party. It’s basically a party of what would be moderate Republicans and similarly, Richard Nixon would be way at the left of the political spectrum today. Eisenhower would be in outer space.

    Maybe that’s why Robin Williams (aka Mork) was well cast as Einsenhower in The Butler.

  6. Someone on FB just said to me “It’s not a good idea for a beaver to pick a fight with an eagle.” Really? So we are going to justify caving in to a bully?
    Very good article, Lynn! I see no reason why Canada should give in to this except to try and cover the butts of the banks. Who indeed DO want an IGA so they can proceed with impunity instead of trying to implement FATCA while leaving them legally exposed.
    Our government cannot go along with this at all without putting their citizens at the mercy of a bully. Saying “we won’t collect FBAR penalties” is not the same as asking the U.S. to stop imposing them on Canadians who would not owe the U.S. any taxes anyway. They haven’t asked for any help at consulates free of charge. They haven’t asked for the U.S. to make a good and decent way for people to sort out this mess at all. The U.S. wants Canada to accept the same “agreement” at gun point threat as other countries have accepted under the same bullying conditions. Canada should absolutely say “No” to that and at the bare minimum get a reasonable agreement that does not punish innocents. If they can’t do that then they should hold off and say “No” to anything.
    Let the banks cover their own butts. They can afford it.

  7. @Blaze, Hazy,
    I was at a small gathering of friends, who are local Conservative Party activists, one evening last year and discussion turned to the US Republican Super-Tuesday Primaries, which were occurring that evening, and everyone was referring to the Republican candidates as “a bunch of right-wing wing-nuts” and similar phrases. The US has got so out of step with the rest of the world politically, it’s bizarre — as well as having got out of step with it’s own history of diversity in their political parties, as Mr. Chomsky points out.
    It’s really a shame that their two party system seems to be morphing/has morphed into effectively one party or ideology, (not much variety, choice or reasoned debate compared to other countries or even their own past), and particularly an ideology past the extreme end (off the charts) of most, seems like it may be all, first-world countries’ political spectrums.

  8. @ Pacifica
    I’m reminded of a visit to the home of a casual acquaintance about 25 years ago. During our chat, discussion turned to politics. My friend’s wife blurted out : “Right wing, Left wing, I can never tell the difference”
    My jaw dropped.
    However, if I heard that .today, I might be I might not be so surprised.

  9. Both parties are funded by the same wealthy backers and they do NOT care which side wins as long as the one they think they can manipulate most does. They pour millions into one party one cycle and millions into the other party next cycle. Their goal is to get elected the person who will most willingly be their puppet and who can they get to be most beholden to them. All this kabuki theatre about who hates whom etc while behind closed doors they are best buddies. There’s no more stated agenda they will be allowed to follow if it goes against their biggest backers. It’s the way the game is played these days and the people voting are not going to be represented in most cases unless they are one of the wealthy backers.
    Their system is completely corrupted. So is their banking system which they seem to want the rest of the world to hold up and copy. Why anyone is going along with anything they say is beyond me. They cannot run their own banks, government or a hotdog stand correctly but, they want to tell the rest of the world what to do and how to do it.
    I have to laugh though when many Americans talk about “I’ll just move to Canada!” Good luck with that, first of the far right thinks we’re socialists so they would not be happy here and secondly you can’t “just move” here. You must with great dedication commit yourself to immigrating to this country and rightly so. It is very telling though that so many say “I’ll just move to Canada!” Hold on there a minute, we’re not another *state….yet* that you can just up and move to.

  10. Of the three (Flaherty, Shoom, Campbell), only Shoom replied:

    Dear Ms Swanson,
    Thank you for the additional comments you provide below. Please be assured that they will be taken into consideration.
    Kevin Shoom
    Senior Chief, International Taxation and Special Projects / Chef principal, Section de la Fiscalité international et projets spéciaux
    Business Income Tax Division / Division de l’impôt des entreprises
    Department of Finance / Ministère des Finances
    Ottawa, Canada K1A 0G5
    Telephone / Téléphone (613) 992-2980 Facsimile / Télécopieur (613) 943-2486 Teletypewriter / Téléimprimeur (613) 995-1455
    Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada

    Not exactly encouraging, is it?

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