I received an email reminder today from CCLA, telling me my membership is about to expire, and asking me to renew my membership.
I am copying below my reply. I would encourage other visitors to this website who share my views and membership in CCLA, to consider taking similar action, in hopes of kick-starting a so-far recalcitrant and potentially an important ally. And yes, I did write to CCLA about support in our Charter battle, many months ago and to no avail. I am tired of asking nicely; I think the iron-boot-in-the-butt approach is called for now.
The text of my email to CCLA follows:
I am choosing NOT to renew my membership this year.
Your first paragraph states that CCLA fights to protect and uphold the rights guaranteed by the Charter.
One of those rights under Section 15 is freedom from discrimination on the basis of national origin.
I, and several other people, have in the past year called to your attention the fact that the current Government of Canada signed an intergovernmental agreement with the United States to share with the US tax authorities financial account information on Canadian citizens and residents who are suspected by a Canadian financial institution of being a “US person” based on “indicia” such as an “unambiguous evidence of US place of birth.” This is in my view a violation of Section 15. That view is shared by constitutional lawyer Joe Arvay, who has filed a Statement of Claim against the government on behalf of two plaintiffs who were born in the US as dual citizens but have never since the age of five years resided in the US, have only resided in Canada the land of the birth of their parents, nor have ever made any claims on US citizenship, yet are adversely affected by this intergovernmental agreement.
I, and I believe others, have asked for CCLA to intervene, provide support, or at least help publicize this battle and the efforts to raise funds for the legal fees for the Charter challenge (see http://www.adcs-adsc.ca).
The legal fees for this lawsuit under the Charter have been crowd-funded, currently to the tune of $300,000. Fund raising is continuing to pay for the remaining $200,000 in legal retainer fees, due in $100,000 instalments in May and August. According to those organizing the fund-raising, all the funds have come in relatively small donations from “average” Canadians (including single parents and others of limited financial means). This is a genuinely grass-roots effort. No corporations, and no prominent and wealthy dual US-Canadian citizens have chipped in a cent, as far as I know.
As far as I am aware, CCLA has provided no support whatsoever to the plaintiffs, the lawsuit, or to Canadians who have been affected by this violation of their Charter rights.
Until I hear that CCLA has contributed in some significant way to the legal battle against this intergovernmental agreement, in support of the Charter rights of Canadian citizens and residents with “US indicia,” I will not be renewing my membership nor will I contribute to CCLA.
The precedent of handing over financial information or in any other way caving into the demands of a foreign government to treat differently from other Canadians, those Canadians whose ethnic or national origin is from that foreign government, potentially affects ALL naturalized Canadians and ALL Canadian residents with foreign origins who might still be considered citizens of the countries of their origin. Think Iran. Think North Korea. Think China. Think Saudi Arabia. Think any country you wish. The ramifications go well beyond Canada-US relations. This is utterly unacceptable behaviour on the part of our government, and a total sell-out of both our Charter and of Canada’s sovereignty over its own citizens and residents.
And no, for the record, I am not a “US person” and am not subject to the provisions of the intergovernmental agreement between Canada and the US with respect to FATCA (the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). But I have close friends and relatives, all Canadian citizens, who are affected. And as someone with a non-Canadian national origin, a violation of the rights of ANY Canadian of ANY ethnic or national origin is potentially and ultimately a violation of my own rights as well, through the precedent that would be set if this Charter violation is allowed to stand.
I had hoped that CCLA would “get” these points. You don’t seem to have done so. I don’t want to hear from you again, until your position on this issue has materially changed or you can provide me evidence that my information about your lack of support in this matter is incorrect.
Until that time, I request that my email address be removed from all your mailing lists.