All posts by schubert

Have the NDP Brass sold out to the Obamacrats?

(cross-posted at IBS)
On October 14, 2011, the BC Caucus of the NDP sent a letter to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird about FATCA. The letter states five objectives which the caucus said should guide Canada’s negotiations with the US on FATCA. (See BC Caucus Letter to Flaherty and Baird re-IRS, please read the objectives on page two). I and, I think, any reasonable Canadian could accept an IGA if it incorporates and respects ALL of these five objectives. I cannot support an IGA that fails any of these five, nor can I support a political party that would sell out any of these five objectives. It sure looks to me like a clear and excellent policy statement.
Tom Mulcair said in Toronto Thursday (see the other threads) that the NDP doesn’t have a position on FATCA and won’t until he consults his caucus. Sorry, Tom, but twelve BC members of your caucus actually listened two years ago to their US-born constituents and formulated a position before you were chosen leader. What’s wrong with that position? Why haven’t you endorsed it, and why have you waited this long even to answer questions about FATCA, refusing to date even to acknowledge receipt of emails sent to you from around Canada concerning FATCA?
The answer, my friends, may be blowing in the following quotation from a fund-raising appeal sent by NDP National Director Nathan Rotman about a week ago to all NDP party members.
“We’ve got some of the best talent in the world working with us here at New Democrat headquarters. For example, Jeremy Bird, an Obama campaign strategist and architect of the most impressive field campaign in electoral history.”
Continue reading Have the NDP Brass sold out to the Obamacrats?

Black Fly Time

I am attaching to this post the full text (minus my name and address) of an email I sent earlier today to Prime Minister Harper, Finance Minister Flaherty, Opposition Leader Mulcair, Justin Trudeau (Liberal leader), Elizabeth May (Green Party leader), Paul Dewar (NDP Foreign Affairs Critic and my MP), Peggy Nash (NDP Finance Critic) and Murray Rankin (NDP National Revenue Critic).  For greater effect (I hope), I sent these emails separately rather than as a bulk list or ccs.  I focused a bit on NDP members, because I want to flag the Toronto Centre dimension to current sitting members (and maybe also hand a few grenades to the other parties for the by-election, if McQuaig wins the nomination and the other recipients’ staffers pay attention).
IGA email re Cruz etc
The full text is too lengthy to post here, and perhaps arguably too lengthy as an email (more than four pages).  However, the first page summarizes the six points I wanted to make; the following pages are elaboration and a few web links supporting the points.
The gist of the email is to express opposition to a Canada-US IGA, for reasons that are already painfully familiar to regular visitors to this website – with the recent addition of the Ted Cruz story, which necessarily takes a full page on its own, to communicate exactly why I consider the treatment of his renunciation of his accidental Canadian citizenship so grotesquely disparate to a not-so-hypothetical parallel renunciation of accidental US citizenship.  I think this stark and compelling example needs to be driven home to our elected parliamentarians and cabinet ministers.  (I maybe should have used the female gender in my example, but that didn’t occur to me until after I sent the emails and then stumbled over one of WhiteKat’s blogs, sorry WhiteKat no offense intended …)
The current timing of an email such as this is, I believe, critical, given the possibilities of an IGA announcement when Parliament resumes in October (and, one hopes, not before then!).
One email probably won’t make a difference. But multiple emails may make a difference.  I encourage all Canadians visiting this website, whatever your national or ethnic origin (to borrow the words of our precious Section 15 of the Charter), to send similar emails NOW to your own Member of Parliament and to other members as you think appropriate.
No doubt my email could have been shorter and perhaps better-written.  Please do NOT cut and paste my wording; use your own, perhaps with my wording as a starting point for improvement.  Cut-and-paste jobs don’t have the impact of obviously-individual emails.
I appreciate so very much all that Lynne, Victoria, Don and others have done in attempting to get these stories before Canadian media.  But I am discouraged at how seldom we seem to get much media traction in Canada.  I think our best bet, for now, is to blitz Parliament with the message.
And please, those of you who are NDP members, even if you don’t live in Toronto Centre, hammer home your concerns to Mulcair and the NDP critics, mentioning your NDP membership in your emails.  I didn’t do that in the copy I’m posting here, nor in the copies I sent to Harper, Flaherty, Trudeau and May, since I don’t want to dilute the message by flagging that I’m not one of their “base” members.  I’m rubbing the NDP’s nose in it, though.
Toronto Centre residents, whether NDP or not, should pay close attention to what happens to the NDP nomination meeting on September 15.  Vote accordingly in the by-election.  See my post on this elsewhere on Sandbox, linked in my email.
Remember, all that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good people to say and do nothing when it rears its ugly head.
And (re the thread title): one black fly can’t kill a moose, but a swarm of black flies can bleed a moose to death, if the moose can’t free itself from the swarm.  Let’s bleed the moose!  NOW!

FATCA supporter Linda McQuaig wants the NDP nomination in Toronto Centre

Toronto Star columnist Linda McQuaig is seeking the NDP nomination for the by-election in Toronto Centre.
So what, you might ask.  Well, Linda McQuaig happens to be a FATCA supporter and cheerleader, see this post on Brock referencing what McQuaig said in her book more than a year ago
I don’t live in Toronto, and I don’t know anyone who lives in Toronto Centre any more (though I did live in that riding for a couple of years in the early 1970s). I am a life-long NDP voter (with the exception of one election when I voted Liberal), I am a current member of the party, but have no vote in the selection process for that riding.
If the NDP candidate in my riding were someone who supports FATCA, I’d vote Green or maybe Liberal — I sure as hell wouldn’t vote for that candidate in either a by-election or a general election, and I bloody well would vote.  FATCA violates Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms, as well as our banking and privacy laws.  Do you want someone  representing you in Parliament who is prepared to let the United States trample all over Canadian sovereignty and your rights and protections as a Canadian resident?  No matter what party they purport to represent?
I urge anyone visiting this website who is an NDP member to do as I’d do, but before that, if you’re an NDP member in Toronto Centre, I urge you to contact anyone you know on the riding association, and also your favourite alternative to McQuaig for the nomination, and mention what’s wrong with McQuaig’s position on this issue, how upset you’d be if the party were to nominate someone who thinks FATCA is a good idea and who supports American over-reach into Canadian and other countries’ sovereign right to have their own banking, privacy and human rights laws, and how nominating such a candidate will cost the NDP a vote in the by-election and maybe also in the next general election. Maybe cc the email to Tom Mulcair at the same time. And do mention that you’re a party member — they’re more likely to pay attention to your email, I hope.
In fairness to McQuaig, and acknowledging a good point made by Tim in his post on this subject at Brock, you should also cc McQuaig on your correspondence, and/or maybe first (or at the same time) write to her and ask her if she still holds with her previous stance on FATCA.  It’s a fair question – and if you’re a member of the Toronto Centre NDP, it’s also a very fair question to ask at the nomination meeting when the candidates face the members before the vote!
You might also mention that McQuaig’s stance is diametrically opposed to the position taken by the entire BC NDP caucus more than a year ago, when they wrote and signed a joint letter to Flaherty expressing opposition to any Canadian compliance with FATCA.  So what exactly is the NDP’s position on FATCA (a particularly good question to ask Mulcair if McQuaig wins the nomination; I’ll be asking him and my MP that question if that happens).
If McQuaig wins the nomination, I suggest voting Liberal in the by-election (unless you seriously think the Greens have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the riding, or unless you actually think having a Conservative in that riding would be a good idea, which I don’t).
I think this could be an excellent opportunity for Brockers and Sandboxers to raise Canadian awareness and to send a few cannon-shots-across-the-bows at MP-wannabees that this issue is going to affect votes in the next election.  That’s what democracy is for, and so far it’s what we still have in Canada.
And let’s not just target NDP riding meetings on this issue — this question is fair game for any Tory, Liberal or Green nomination meeting too (though the Greens are more on-side and consistent on the FATCA issue than anyone else except the NDP’s BC caucus).
Final afterthought: if you know anyone who lives in Toronto Centre who is an NDP member or supporter, please forward to the link to this post.  I’m  not sure what the deadline is for getting a party membership in time for the nomination  meeting, nor when/where the meeting is, but it should be easy to find that out.  Party membership is (or was, last time I did it) $25 a year, you only have to do it once and have to certify you aren’t a member of another party, and if the deadline hasn’t passed, you can go to the nomination meeting, ask questions and vote.  If I resided in Toronto Centre, I’d consider that a good investment in striking a small blow or “mosquito bite” against FATCA.

US wants their cross-border officers to be exempt from Canadian law

Cross-posted from the Isaac Brock Society website: there is an article on the CBC News website (also in the July 30 Toronto Star) that every loyal Canadian must read. It reports that the Americans are demanding that our government agree that US cross-border agents operating under a proposed cross-border enforcement agreement, not be subject to Canadian law when operating on Canadian soil.
I sent the following email to the PM, my MP and the opposition party leaders about this story:
“I am absolutely opposed to any exemption from Canadian law of US law enforcement, security or military personnel operating on Canadian soil. That would be a total violation of Canada’s sovereignty. Any agreement by any Canadian government to something like this would, in my opinion, be akin to an act of treason — a sell-out of our sovereignty to the Americans. No cross-border economic “benefits” can possibly justify something like this. I will hold you personally accountable (and also your political parties) in the next election for whatever stance and actions you and your parties take on this matter, as I suspect will a lot of my fellow Canadians.”
To my family and friends in the US I sent the following message:
“If you were in any lingering doubt of American imperialist arrogance being continued by the Obama administration, read the link below. Canada and the US have been negotiating cross-border policing operations at the border, supposedly to facilitate cross-border tourism and commerce, but now the US wants its cross-border officers operating on Canadian sovereign soil to be exempt from Canadian law while operating on our soil. Do you imagine for a second the Obama administration would accept a parallel demand from Canada for its officers on US soil to be exempt from US law? Would the American people accept that? Why does anyone in the Obama administration dream for a second this would be acceptable to Canadians?” Or, I might add, to the citizens of any other country on this planet.
I forget which major UK publication it was, The Guardian or The Economist, that a few months ago described Obama, with respect to foreign and military policy issues, as “George W. Bush on steroids.” I don’t think that’s an exaggeration, and it doesn’t flatter either of those two presidents.
The implications and extensions of this US demand, re IRS and taxation, are rather obvious.
Maybe your US family and friends are already converted, maybe they are so wedded to US “exceptionalism” they can’t listen any more, maybe it won’t matter, but I think it’s important that former USPs living overseas ensure their US friends and family are aware of examples like this. It may or may not change anything to keep them informed, but it certainly won’t change anything if we all sit quietly and say nothing about these outrages. And you can bet your last dollar that the so-called “free” mainstream US press aren’t covering stories like this and reporting them to Americans.
At the very least, make sure your MP and your neighbours are aware of this story and of what you think about it. To paraphrase a famous aphorism: all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to say and do nothing when evil raises its head. And unless a lot of Canadians write their Members of Parliament and the Prime Minister to object to this proposal, and also Heave Steve in 2015 if his government succumbs to this US demand, we can kiss our sovereignty and our precious country goodbye. Remember 1812, and fight any attempt by the US to take us over. This demand, if accepted by our government, would be a dangerous and significant step toward a US take-over of our country.

Is there a connection between FATCA and the outsourcing of Canadian banks' IT jobs?

Like most other Canadians, I was outraged to learn that the Royal Bank of Canada has been laying off IT workers and replacing them with temporary foreign workers, with the intention of outsourcing their IT functions overseas. I was ever more outraged to learn in today’s news that RBC is not unique among Canadian chartered banks in doing this; several other members of the Canadian Bankers Association also stand accused in the media of the same practice, by some laid-off and even current IT workers from several banks other than RBC (specifically, CIBC, TD, Scotiabank and BMO).
Am I the only person who is wondering whether there is a connection between the outsourcing of the banks’ IT functions to less-expensive overseas contract workers, and the indications we hear of the banks’ preparations to comply with FATCA (which will entail some extensive and expensive IT systems work in these banks)?  Outsourcing all that IT work could help reduce the costs to the banks of rolling over and complying with IRS invasion of our citizens’ financial accounts.
Is it the case that not only are the banks preparing to throw Section 15 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms under the bus, as well as the account information on thousands upon thousands of Canadian citizens’ financial information to the tax agency of a foreign country, but they also are laying off highly-educated and highly-trained Canadian IT workers to boot in order to achieve this, even requiring those workers to train their under- or un-trained replacements in Canada before those workers go back to where they came from (and where Canadian privacy, banking and Charter rights don’t apply as those workers will be on foreign soil)?
And what will the outsourcing of IT functions overseas do to what remains of privacy, secrecy and security of Canadians’ financial information – of ALL Canadians, not only those of US origin?
I am writing today to my MP to ask these questions.  I urge you all to do likewise.  I would like some clear and believable answers.  (No, I am not writing to CBA. I want an answer I can believe, and I think that Question Period in the House of Commons, followed as appropriate by a federal government investigation to get answers, is the only way that’s going to happen.  CBA is not going to have any credibility with me on this one.  I believe what fellow Canadian workers are telling CBC, not the insipid denial by that RBC official.)
If anyone was looking for a compelling reason for non-US-origin Canadians to get really upset about FATCA and the banks, this could be a very good one, if it pans out.

Flaherty's November 8 letter – note same-day link with call for FATCA comments

As noted in another post on this site and on the IBS site, yesterday November 8 Finance Canada posted an invitation to concerned individuals and groups to comment on the negotiations between the US and Canada over FATCA and related matters.  This “consultation” call noted that Finance has received many comments already on FATCA.  They (Flaherty) have in fact received numerous comments from me, the most recent being an email I sent on June 17.  Yesterday I received by email (five months later!) a reply signed by Flaherty.  I am appending that letter in full to this post.
Note that the letter is dated November 8, the same day that Finance invited comments on the consultations with the US over FATCA.  Note also that the letter re-iterates all the points Flaherty has been making all along, including repeated assurances (see also the fourth page, the September 2012 attachment) that CRA will NOT collect IRS liability or penalty claims against Canadian citizens.
A coincidence that my letter was sent the same day as the consultation invitation?  I don’t think so.  I think the letter, which I’ve seen on the IBS site was received by at least two other persons on the same day I got mine (the identical letter is posted on IBS by someone else), was sent out to re-assure those of us who have been commenting repeatedly (note the opening paragraph in my letter, this was my third or fourth letter to Flaherty on FATCA) that we aren’t going to be thrown under the bus.
At least that’s my interpretation.  It would be rather difficult politically, I’d think, for our government to throw us under any buses, given the timing and wording of the letter and the announcement, even if they wanted to do that.  I don’t think they do.  I think they have a very hot political potato on their hands and they know it.
I’m going to try to attach the full four pages of the letter, at 1280 pixels wide.  I hope this works …
Flaherty letter November 8 2012

The Sleeping Bear Metaphor

OK, as a farewell, or at least “au revoir,” post from me (now that my wife got her CLN today!!!)
This post is by repeated request from Blaze, and out of respect and honour to her, what’s she done for others, and what she’s gone through.  It was one of my off-the-cuff throwaway remarks, but she liked it so I’m posting it here.
Continue reading The Sleeping Bear Metaphor

Crossing the US Border on a non-US passport showing a US birthplace

There is a bit of anxiety concerning what happens at the US border once you have a CLN or once you’ve applied for one.  Or for that matter, if you have a Canadian passport that shows a US birthplace, have no US passport and don’t want one, and haven’t yet decided whether a CLN is a good idea for you.  If you’re one of any of these concerned people, this post and thread are for you. Continue reading Crossing the US Border on a non-US passport showing a US birthplace