Monthly Archives: August 2014

CBC News article on Harper strategy of confrontation with the courts: excellent comment opportunity

There is an otherwise (see below) excellent article on CBC News webpage today, discussing how the Harper government seems bent on a confrontation with Canada’s legal system by deliberately bringing forward legislation that Justice lawyers advise have only even a 1% chance or slightly higher of surviving a constitutional or Charter challenge.
Harper government’s strategy of confrontation with our courts
I am a retired federal public servant who occasionally worked with Justice lawyers on legal matters and legislation though not in the Department of Justice itself. And I am not a lawyer. But — I do know from personal experience and discussion with Justice lawyers back then, that the Harper government approach, putting forward legislation that career lawyers in Justice doubt has even a 1% chance of surviving a court challenge, is a complete reversal of the standard used by all previous federal governments under which I served, including the three Progressive Conservative governments of Clark, Mulroney and Campbell.
The article lists, near the bottom, several recent pieces of legislation likely to be challenged in court and unlikely to survive court scrutiny. Disturbingly, however, Bill C-31 Section 5 (the FATCA/IGA implementation provisions buried in the omnibus budget bill) is not included in that list. CBC should have known to include that, given past stories and contacts we’ve had with some of their news writers.
This is an opportunity for Brockers and Sandoxers to blog a CBC story and to help raise reader awareness of the Charter and other legal issues that Harper and crowd have patently been ignoring re the IGA and FATCA. It also helps explain the careful choice of words the Finance officials were using in answering Opposition questions about Justice review of the legislation’s constitutionality under the Charter. My suspicion is that the advice that Justice gave Finance is that the probability the legislation could survive a Charter challenge was maybe more than 1% but probably not a lot more, certainly no more than perhaps 10% or so I’d guess.
This raises broader issues of Harper and crowds’ total disregard for “rule of law” in Canada and misunderstanding of the role our courts are supposed to play under our constitution, parliamentary democracy, and the Charter.
I’ve posted my own comment to the above effect in the story, still awaiting CBC moderation though. There are already hundreds of comments, most extremely critical of Harper and Justice Minister Mackay on this point, but I didn’t see any other FATCA related ones than mine, though I don’t pretend to have the time nor patience to wade through all those comments to check.
Another excellent reason to vote ABC (Anybody but the Conservative) in the next election, as well as another opportunity for Brocker and Sandbox bees to swarm and post to raise Canadians’ awareness of the issue.

Update for Solving US Citizenship ProblemsMeetings- DUBLIN & BELFAST

When: Tuesday, August 12, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Where: Quaker House, Stocking Lane, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16 MAP
When: Wednesday, August 20, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Where: Belfast Castle, Antrim Road, Belfast, Antrim, UK BT15 5GR MAP
Presenter: John Richardson, B.A., L.L.B., J.D., is a Toronto lawyer and a member of the Ontario Bar.
Admission: Dublin €15 / Belfast £15 cash payable at the door (to cover costs).
It is estimated there are 7 million U.S. citizens living outside the United States. Some of these people don’t know that the U.S. may consider them to be citizens. The vast majority of these Americans abroad (according to U.S. law), are required to pay taxes and complete information reporting forms to the United States. Although “citizenship-based” taxation has existed for years, what is new is the enforcement.
The U.S. has enacted FATCA (“Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act”) and has signed IGA’s (Intergovernmental Agreements) in many European countries including Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Financial institutions across the globe will be required to identify accounts of “US Persons.” Starting July 1, 2014, financial institutions will begin to determine what accounts are “reportable accounts.” Information regarding those accounts will be passed on to the tax agencies of each country, who will in turn, pass this information on to the IRS. These seminars will include discussion and analysis of the IRS “relaxed opportunities” for people to come into compliance and will focus on:
Citizenship Issues:
Are you a US citizen?
Are you still a US citizen?
Are your children US citizens?
What is an Accidental American?
Tax Issues:
Filing US tax returns
What is involved?
Filing information returns (FBAR, 8938, 3520A & 3520, 5471, 8621 etc)
Reasonable cause (avoiding penalties)
Financial Planning Issues:
Treatment of tax-deferred savings plans
Treatment of Mutual Funds (PFICs)
Privacy Issues:
What might FATCA mean for me?
Border Issues:
Will FATCA make it harder for me to cross the border?
Does it make sense to give up US citizenship?
Information presented is NOT intended or offered as legal or accounting advice specific to your situation.