Anne Frank over at Brock made a brilliant but simple suggestion on Friday for a proposed amendment to the enabling act for the IGA. Anne said:
Canada COULD unilaterally amend the IGA via the implementation treaty with a simple “notwithstanding” clause to the effect of “Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or the IGA, no Canadian citizen resident in Canada or other permanent resident of Canada shall be considered to be a “US Person” for purposes of the Act or the IGA”. The IGA would be unamended – the implementation Act would simply gut it of its Charter-violating aspect…
The Act is amended by inserting after subsection 4(1) thereof the following:
“section 4 (1.1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or the Agreement, for all purposes related to the implemenation of this Act and the Agreement, “US Person” and “Specified US Person” shall not include any person who is a Canadian citizen or is a landed immigrant ordinarily resident in Canada.”
That simple amendment, made to the implementing Act, would put the ball right back in Treasury’s court. They can deem all Canadian financial institutions non-compliant and bring their own financial house of cards down about their own heads (as withholding, while possibly lawful in the US, will not excuse the withholder in any other jurisdiction, including Canada). It would take a positive act on the part of Treasury to blacklist the entire country. They would not be able to point to 10 cents of revenue that they would be seeking to protect
in so doing. Further, as pointed out above, Canada would have more than enough fodder to retaliate in kind given the far larger magnitude of US investments in Canada (most of which, unlike bank accounts, can’t be moved overnight). All they would have to do is pretend that the IGA is compliant and drive on. It would be a brilliant move by the Government were they to allow themselves to be backed into it due to a serious Charter Challenge.
I ran that idea by a few people and have learned that amendment would be best in the enabling law and not in the IGA because the enabling act can be amended in Parliament, but an IGA amendment would require Finance Canada to submit the revisions to US Treasury for approval.
So, Friday night I sent this e-mail to NDP Finance Critic Nathan Cullen and Liberal Finance and Revenue Critic Scott Brison who are vice-chairs of the Finance Committee with copies to Finance Committee members Murray Rankin (NDP) and Guy Caron (Liberal). I also sent a copy to Elizabeth May.
Thank you Mr. Cullen and Mr. Brison for your position and that of your NDP, Liberal and Green colleagues on FATCA in the House of Commons.
The Harper Cons and Finance Canada have been consistent in their unwillingness to listen to Canadians on this and many other issues.
I am writing to you as vice-chairs of the Finance Committee to suggest an amendment to the enabling legislation and/or IGA and to ask if you and/or your party would consider supporting Canadians on a possible constitutional challenge.
Here is a suggested amendment to the FATCA enabling legislation and/or the IGA.
“Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or the Agreement, for all purposes related to the implementation of this Act and the Agreement, “US Person” and “Specified US Person” shall not include any person who is a Canadian citizen or legal permanent resident who is ordinarily resident in Canada.”
With a Conservative majority on the Finance Committee and in the House, I realize this amendment would be likely to fail. However, it may force Conservatives into voting against it, showing they clearly will not stand up for Canadian citizens and residents who were born in the United States.
POSSIBLE CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE
You raised the Charter issue in the House. For your information, Dr. Stephen Kish and I have retained Joseph Arvay for a legal opinion on this. We were able to do this because we raised the money for this legal opinion in just six days from Canadians and people around the world.
If the Charter challenge proceeds further, we expect we will be able to raise the funds for that. Would you and/or your party consider supporting us in this?
Attached is a copy of a news release issued on March 10 regarding this.
Again, thank you for your efforts on this affront to Canadian citizens, residents, laws, rights and sovereignty.