In light of the Canadian Government’s ongoing IGA negotiations with the US, Maple Sandbox and the Isaac Brock Society today issued a joint letter to the Hon. James Flaherty, MInister of Finance, demanding an answer to one simple question, which to date he has not answered. Do all Canadians have the same rights? The letter is reproduced below. As well, you can download a PDF of the letter here.
It has also been released to media outlets with the following message:
“Do all Canadians have the same rights? For two years, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has refused to answer that simple question while he negotiates with a foreign government trying to financially terrorize Canadian citizens, residents and financial institutions.
Now Isaac Brock Society and Maple Sandbox have put that simple question to Minister Flaherty in the attached Open Letter.
We hope you will bring this to the attention of Canadians and Mr. Flaherty. Perhaps you will be more successful at getting an answer from Minister of Finance than we have been.”
“OPEN LETTER TO CANADIAN FINANCE MINISTER JIM FLAHERTY
The Honourable James Flaherty, P.C. M.P
RE: FATCA: Canadian Rights vs. Foreign Demands
We write to you today asking a simple question: Do all Canadians have the same rights under Canada’s laws and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
Your government is quietly negotiating a new tax information sharing agreement with the United States that we fear will remove those rights from Canadians whom the U.S. wants to claim as their own. We would like your assurance that no such removal is being contemplated.
There are at least a million people in this group, with another two or three million family members who will be affected by any agreement with the U.S. that compromises their rights.
We are law-abiding, responsible, tax-paying Canadian citizens and residents, many of us here for decades or our entire lives. We live from Atlantic to Pacific to Arctic. We have studied, worked, retired, earned an income, owned homes, raised Canadian-born families, volunteered, voted, participated in our communities, donated to Canadian charities, saved, invested, planned for our children’s education, their and our own disabilities and our retirement and diligently paid our federal, provincial and municipal taxes.
But now we are suffering as a foreign government tries to financially terrorize us. There have been many sleepless nights. Marriages have been strained. Health and careers have been affected. Some have even contemplated suicide.
Our Canadian citizenship certificates describe us as: “… entitled to all of the rights and privileges and bears all the responsibilities, obligations and duties of a Canadian citizen.” We have met our obligations, and we now respectfully ask you, and the government of Canada, to meet your obligations to us.
As you are fully aware, the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) demands Canadian banks, credit unions and other financial institutions provide information to U.S. Internal Revenue Service – either directly or through the Canadian government – on our accounts with them.
This is a nightmare for us, and it should be for your government. Those accounts are often held with Canadian-born spouses and children. Those assets were earned, saved, invested and taxed entirely in Canada. Income was reported to Canada Revenue Agency and taxes paid. If we refuse to provide consent for transmission of our information to a foreign government, FATCA expects our banks to declare us “recalcitrant” and close our accounts.
FATCA violates Canadian banking, privacy and human rights laws and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yet, under foreign threats, Canadian banks and financial institutions may violate those rights – possibly with help from your government through the imposition of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).
Mr. Flaherty, you yourself wrote “Canada is not a tax haven. People do not flock to Canada to avoid paying taxes.” You called FATCA “unwarranted” and “extraterritorial.” You insisted FATCA would “turn Canadian banks into extensions of the IRS and would raise significant privacy concerns for Canadians.”
Nevertheless, your officials are negotiating in secret with American officials for a “solution both countries will find agreeable.” There should be no negotiating fundamental Canadian rights. It should be clear. Canadian laws and the Charter protect all Canadian citizens and residents. Anything less makes us second class Canadians and surrenders Canada’s sovereignty to a foreign power.
So, again, the question is simple. Do Canadian citizens and residents born in United States or with some bizarre past U.S. connection have the same rights as all other Canadians?
We implore you to answer now. This nightmare has dragged on too long.
This letter is the collaborative effort of Canadians across Canada – most are active participants in the Isaac Brock Society and Maple Sandbox blogs. Many do not want their names revealed now because of an impending betrayal of their financial privacy rights by their government and by their banks. They fear the unprincipled predatory financial attack by the U.S. helped by that Canadian betrayal.
Lynne Swanson, maplesandbox at gmail dot com
Administrator, Maple Sandbox
Peter W. Dunn, petros at isaacbrocksociety dot ca
Administrator, Isaac Brock Society”