Murray Rankin calls what the government is doing to us “shocking.” Mr. Rankin says the FATCA Act will go to the Supreme Court.
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Murray Rankin (NDP) Members may ask when I say privacy what that has to do with a budget bill. Once again, it is an omnibus budget bill and so our government decided to accept almost holus-bolus things such as the decision to allow the IRS to have some of the most sensitive information Canadians hold namely, their personal financial information, under an American initiative called FATCA…In our judgment, the Conservatives voted against all reasonable amendments, with no real consideration of the content. Unless the idea was theirs, it could not have been good enough and would have to be rejected. That is the way business is done at the committee.
We also put forward several amendments to the very controversial FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, implementation aspect of Bill C-31, which was an attempt to make it a little better, this deeply flawed initiative that the Conservatives put forward, which has no business being in a budget bill in the first place, but there it is.Serious issues were raised at the committee stage regarding the implementation of this statute. I had hoped that the Conservatives would carefully consider and support the NDP amendments, which had been the subject of evidence from very notable experts, such as Professor Christians, the Stikeman Chair in Tax at McGill University, Professor Cockfield at Queen’s, who cautioned us that it was not necessary to proceed and jam this through, as they did, with no amendments whatsoever. Nevertheless, that is what is before us tonight.We say rushing this through in an omnibus budget bill without proper study is not only reckless but is entirely unnecessary. Why? Because the United States had recently delayed the application of FATCA sanctions until January 2015. We were told that Canada was already deemed in compliance with U.S. law, and legal experts told the committee that there was ample time to properly study and amend the agreement.More than one million Canadians will be affected by this draconian legislation. The Conservatives demonstrated they did not understand that dual Canadians were just as much Canadians as those of us born in this country. They did not understand the case of an individual in Calgary born of two U.S. persons who came to Canada decades ago, but were deemed to be U.S. persons by our American friends and therefore subject to this draconian statute. They did not understand that, and the evidence was shocking in that regard.Yet again, we are at report stage asking the Conservatives to slow down and remove FATCA from the budget so it can be properly scrutinized, so we can ensure the privacy and, indeed, the constitutional rights of those dual Canadians, our fellow Canadians, are protected. I assume we will find another negative answer to that question.As a result of a lack of willingness on the government side to make any amendments to the omnibus legislation, the New Democratic Party has moved to delete 266 clauses at report stage, and that is what is before us…Mr. Speaker, I would like to salute and thank my neighbour and friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her intervention and her wisdom in pointing out the FATCA provisions in the bill. We already know those provisions will go to the Supreme Court of Canada. We already know the Conservatives have received legal advice and are moving in that direction. It was Peter Hogg who the government relied on for its ill-fated attempt in yet another omnibus budget bill to deal with Mr. Justice Nadon and that debacle. He was its expert, he prepared a written legal opinion to the effect that it was unconstitutional, so it will go to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Nathan Cullen: Mr. Speaker, it is amazing that the same legal expert who the government relies on and lauds, Mr. Hogg, is the same expert who has warned it about this tax treaty that is buried within this 360-page omnibus bill. This one bill will affect more than 60 laws in Canada. Maybe later on in my speech, I will read out all the quotes of the Conservative members, including the Prime Minister and a whole bunch of folks who are now in cabinet, who hated this kind of process when Conservatives were in opposition. They said that it was undemocratic. They said that omnibus bills designed this way were unfair. They have taken what the Liberals were doing when they were in government and have put it on steroids. They actually ram even more into their omnibus legislation than the Liberals did, who were abusing the process.To the specific piece of this one bill that my friend raises around FATCA, witnesses at committee reported that up to one million Canadians might be exposed to this agreement. What it would do very explicitly, with no notice whatsoever, is affect people suspected of having some sort of relation or experience with the U.S. Maybe they were U.S. citizens at one point or maybe children were born in Canada to U.S. parents. The definition of a who a U.S. person is will not be made by the Canadian government; it will be made by Washington. Rest his soul, Mr. Flaherty spoke up against FATCA and this process, worried about the very thing that I am addressing now, which the Conservatives are choosing to heckle me on. He was worried that accidental Americans, which is what Mr. Flaherty said, would get swept up into this process.People’s private banking information will be collected by their banks, passed on to the CRA, and then on to the IRS without being notified at all. Personal banking information, as we know, can reveal a lot.Could my friend speak to the effort we are making as New Democrats right now to simply pull this piece of the bill out so we can understand what its implications are before the Conservatives impose this on up to a million Canadians?Murray Rankin: Mr. Speaker, my friend is absolutely right. Mr. Flaherty spoke up compassionately against these accidental Americans who would be caught in what I call the FATCA web. There are a million of them and the government is standing by and waiting for an inevitable lawsuit because it did not stand up for our sovereignty when this was before us initially. It is shocking.