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”
14 thoughts on “Do All Canadians have the Same Rights?: Letter to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Issued Jointly by Maple Sandbox and the Isaac Brock Society”
I’ve just left this comment (and others in reply to comments already there) at CBC News: Canadian banks to be compelled to share clients’ info with U.S..
Still in moderation.
Beautiful letter. Short, to the point, but contains all pertinent info. Great, great work. C’mon Flaherty, answer us!
@Calgary411 – it’s posted – just saw it. Posted my own comment in there, as well.
Great, thanks! And my others are now out of moderation as well — but very buried.
Glad for the article and that our comments are getting through.
Hufffington Post has now posted the CBC story
No response yet from Flaherty or the media on the Open Letter.
I just had a conversation with Minister Flaherty’s office. Here’s a synposis:
I identified myself, my city and the Open Letter sent on behalf
of Maple Sandbox and Isaac Brock Society about FATCA.
I will wait another week and then phone again if we don’t have a reply.
James Flaherty should get the above transcript of the telephone call. He can then refute your conclusion if he dares.
I, too, come to the same conclusion. Why the run-around? Why can’t Canada . just . say . NO, all Canadians have the same rights.
(The staff member will not soon forget the conversation that just took place with you, Lynne! He or she probably wonders the same thing we do, but of course cannot express such a thing.)
Hugs for everything you have done. Unfortunately, I think you have your answer, and its not the one you want. At least you have your oath of allegiance to fall back on. Sorry to sound so pessimistic. I feel at the end of my rope with this.
Blaze, you warm with your fire! I greatly admire your ability to articulate the issues in your correspondence and in your interaction with Flaherty’s office.
Hang in there WhiteKat. All is not lost. At least they know that there is considerable dedicated Canadian pushback and resistance.
This also comes at a bad time for the Minister of Finance, since the issue of PRPPs is coming up again http://www.canadianbusiness.com/economy/lost-in-the-execution/ . It is another one of Flaherty’s priorities, but of course suffersfrom the same fatal flaws that the other registered savings like the TFSA, RESP, and RDSP do – exposed to the extraterritorial tax laws of the US applied in Canada – and deemed to be taxable ‘foreign trusts’ and thus not only useless to > 1 million in Canada, but even worse, actively creating a ‘taxable foreign trust’ headache for those forced to enroll. If the provinces make workplace PRPPs mandatory – as Quebec apparently wishes, then that overnight creates a US taxable ‘foreign trust’ issue for all those Canadians who are also framed as ‘US taxable persons’ ‘abroad’.
Lynne, thank you for everything that you’re doing for our shared cause. Your perseverance is outstanding!
@Jane: We’re all doing what we can to try to make a difference.
I called the Minister’s office again today–over six weeks since we sent our Open Letter to Minister Flaherty. They referred me to another government line.
I then spoke with someone in Communications. She said their records show the letter was received and a “Policy Officer is working on it.”
She could not advise when we might receive a response.
I think we have an answer as to whether we have the same rights as all other Canadians. If the answer was yes, we should have had a quick reply.
I advised them I would be posting their non-response at Maple Sandbox and I expected it would also be posted at Isaac Brock Society. Could someone else post it there please.
I just sent this to Flaherty with copies to Shoom, Hsu, Brison, Cotler, Rankin, Nash and May.