FATCA Letter to Leaders and MPs

In this election year, ADCS has sent letters requesting Party policy on FATCA:
Letter to Leader of NDP
Letter to Leader of Liberals
Letter to Leader of Green Party
Letter to Leader of Conservatives
Copies of that letter to several Opposition Critics, Cabinet Ministers or some MPs.
As you can see, these letters are very similar. We ask direct questions relating to FATCA. As an example, here is the content of the letter to Thomas Mulcair:

Thank you to you, the NDP and some of your MPs for standing up for Canadian citizens and residents, whether born in the United States, in Canada or in any other country, against the American Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) enabling legislation.
You may be aware we have commenced litigation against the Government of Canada resulting from the Conservative government surrendering Canadian citizens, residents, laws, constitution and sovereignty to the United States for FATCA.
We are disappointed at your near silence since the FATCA enabling act was passed. We are, therefore, contacting you now to request your party’s policy in writing on what you would do if the NDP is elected to form the next government.
Specifically, we ask:
1. Will your party commit to repealing the FATCA IGA in its entirety?
2. If not, why not?
3. What action will your party take to protect Canadian citizens and residents from the demands of a foreign government under FATCA?
4. What action will your party take to uphold Canadian laws, the constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadian sovereignty as they relate to FATCA?
5. What action will your party take to agree with our lawsuit that the FATCA enabling Act violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canada’s constitution? Will you direct the Ministry of Justice to quickly reach an acceptable settlement with us?
6. What action will your party take to ensure a foreign law does not prevail over Canadian privacy, human rights, banking and other laws?
7. What is your time frame for any commitment you may make?
Approximately one million Canadians, their families and business associates are affected by FATCA and many will want to know which party represents their needs and rights. Many will make their voting decision based on this.
We hope the NDP will fight for their rights as Canadians.

I will advise you of the responses we receive or if we do not receive responses.
Other Canadians may wish to write to their MPs and/or candidates in their ridings. You can share responses you receive here.

27 thoughts on “FATCA Letter to Leaders and MPs

  1. These open letters are a terrific idea. The questions you pose deserve precise answers and I hope you get some. I e-mailed my MP recently but I do not expect a reply from him. (It was about Bill C-51 but I also worked in the 2014 Canada Day betrayal of FATCA implementation.) They need to know that this issue is not going away no matter how vigorously they try to sweep it under the carpet.

  2. The first reply to our letter came from the Assistant to NDP MP for British Columbia Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko.

    Good afternoon all,
    Alex has forwarded your letter to Murray Rankin and Pierre LaBelle, the NDP critics who are handling this file. They will address your questions around the Party’s policy on the issue. Alex and I continue to be very concerned with the IRS’ reach into Canada. We have taken a more advisory role, giving our critics the lead at the federal level.
    We will be following your progress and are hopeful that you will be successful.
    Constituency Assistant | Adjoint de circonsciptione
    Alex Atamanenko, MP | Alex Atamanenko, député
    New Democratic Party | Nouveau Parti démocratique

    I am not surprised the first response came from Alex Atamanenko. The information I received through Access to Information indicated he was the first MP to raise alarm bells about FATCA in September of 2011.
    At that time, in an “e-mail blast“ to Conservative MPs, Mr. Atamanenko said:

    We need to work together to urge our federal government to advise the U.S. government that this policy is not acceptable to Canada.
    The fact that, according to the proposed US law, a Canadian financial institution will have to disclose the financial information of Canadian citizens directly to the US is ludicrous and a flagrant violation of our nation’s sovereignty.

    Someone in the Conservative ranks (identity was redacted in the information provided to me) claimed Mr. Atamanenko “confused” FATCA and FBAR. He didn`t. Mr. Atamanenko knew exactly what he was talking about and clearly understood the implications for Canada and for Canadians. He has also written about since then on his blog and in articles. He posted information about our lawsuit on his blog three days after it was filed.
    You can read the information from the redacted Conservative and Mr. Atamanenko on Page 5 of Part 2 of Access to Information Request
    Murray Rankin and Pierre LaBelle received our letter but Mr. Atamaneko and Ms. Hunnissett may not have been aware of that.
    I hope one of them or Thomas Mulcair will reply soon on what the official NDP policy is.

    1. “Courage is having the integrity to do the right thing even if it means you stand alone.”
      That was how Mr. Atamanenko closed an e-mail reply to me 2 years ago. It was a very good reply and showed a deep understanding of FATCA. I hope he is not standing alone today and that we can still count on the entire New Democratic Party to remember what happened on Canada Day last year and to continue to press our case in Parliament.

  3. Here is a reply from Assistant to Don Davies of the NDP:

    Thank you for taking the time to send us your questions regarding FACTA.
    I would however suggest that you direct your questions to the NDP Critic for National Revenue, M. Pierre Dionne Labelle. His office will be better suited to respond do your inquiry.
    Kind regards,
    Gillian Harris
    Parliamentary Assistant | Adjoint Parlementaire
    Don Davies, M.P. Vancouver Kingsway | Député Vancouver Kingsway
    Critic for International Trade | Porte-parole, Commerce International
    Deputy Critic Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism | Porte-parole Ajoint Citoyenneté, Immigration et Multiculturalisme
    New Democratic Party | Nouveau Parti Démocratique

    As you know, we sent the letter to Mr. LaBelle but have not yet heard from him or Thomas Mulcair.

  4. Excellent!!
    I’m sure we all look forward to hearing what replies are made to these letters. I also hope that, by the time the election is called, someone on the ADCS team will post a new thread identifying or summarizing which parties have or haven’t replied, and what they said. At that point it will be up to each of us to swamp our friends and relatives who vote in Canada, and our local MPs, with emails indicating how these replies are going to affect our voting in the election.

  5. … I think this should be cross-posed over at IBS, preferably by someone on the ADCS board or team, to give more coverage to this. I just checked and I didn’t see a posting of this nature over there.
    If no one on that board or team can do that, I do have authoring rights over there and can do it, but I think it should be someone on the team, which I’m not and hence would not be able or comfortable replying to any queries on the thread concerning this excellent strategy or about the suit itself.

  6. Thanks Lynne and ADCS members. These letters will likely be a great help for those of us voting ABC. The answers to your precise questions will influence which party I vote for. If there are no replies from certain parties, we will know what that means as well.

  7. Rec’d my second letter from Joe Oliver. It generally takes four months for a response. As expected, my questions and points were completely ignored, and I was patronizingly advised to hire a tax specialist to ensure I was in compliance. The letter was condescending to say the least. I wrote back and thanked them for their pitiful, yet expected, non-response that I should spend good money on some tax accountant regarding taxes in a country I have never lived in.

  8. @John Canuck. That is the same Joe Oliver who repeatedly insisted at Finance Committee that FATCA does not affect Canadian citizens.
    Stephen insisted I be “courteous” in our letter to the Cons. It was tough.

  9. It’s more than two months since we sent the letter to leaders and to some MPs. We have not yet had a concrete response (which is what exactly what Stephen predicted would happen.)
    I followed up with a request for an update to the Leaders, MPs and the Liberal and NDP candidates in my riding.
    I had a very disappointing call from Murray Rankin’s Legislative Assistant today assuring me the NDP if elected would do a “full and urgent review” of the IGA.
    I let her know that is not good enough. Reviews have been done. We need action quickly. She said she will get back to me by the end of next week. If she doesn’t, I will follow up with her.
    I met a few weeks ago with my Liberal candidate. She seemed perplexed as to why she, ADCS and I cannot get direct answers. She said she would continue to pursue the issue.
    I followed up with her via e-mail. Here is her reply:

    Hi Lynne, I’ve red flagged this issue with candidates across the country and we’re arranging a conference call to see if we can get some answers. Sorry it’s taking so long! Kate

    And here is the response of the NDP candidate in my riding:

    Dear Lynne: I am sorry that no one in the party leadership has responded to your concerns about FATCA and the IGA with the US that the Conservatives have signed regarding it. As you know, I share those concerns. But I am afraid a prospective NDP government will have an extremely full agenda addressing many of the problems that this Conservative and previous Liberal governments will have handed us. I assure you I have passed your inquiry on and am working to get a response for you.
    Matthew Rowlinson,

    I think the message is clear: We are yesterday’s issue.

    1. Thanks, Lynne, for following up on the ADCS-ADSC letters to those who wish to be Canada’s *Leaders*. It is very disappointing, as you point out, we seem to be Yesterday’s Issue — one hidden in Omnibus Budget Bill C-31.
      Here’s an opportunity to readers of Sandbox who fit the description of being *a Former Harper / Conservative Voter*
      As a start — most of all Bill C-31 omnibus bill that implemented US FATCA law over Canadian laws and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and now Bill C-51 that is also shredding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All Canadians should be protected.
      Many Canadians voted for Stephen Harper when he was in opposition because he promised to bring ethics and accountability back into the government. Now after 9 years in power, he’s only grown our democratic deficit while damaging the reputation of principled conservatives everywhere.
      There are more and more Former Harper Voters everyday. By sharing our stories with each other, we can understand and connect with thousands of people across the country who voted for Stephen Harper’s principles in 2008 and 2011 and now feel deeply betrayed by his pursuit of a completely different agenda.
      By sharing our stories with people who currently plan to vote for Harper again, we can hold this government accountable at the ballot box and show governments of all stripes that they can’t break their promises without consequences.
      Please tell us your story. Why did you become a Former Harper Voter?
      Tell us your story

  10. We finally have a reply from Justin Trudeau, but no answers.
    He thinks reporting to CRA instead of banks reporting to IRS “was a positive step.”
    He says:

    The Liberal Party of Canada believes that the Conservative government’s efforts to safeguard the personal privacy of Canadians have been inadequate.
    The Government of Canada has a responsibility to stand up for its citizens when foreign governments are encroaching on their rights. We believe that the deal reached between Canada and the U.S. is insufficient to protect affected Canadians.

    Inadequate? Insufficient? We knew that. What we do not know and want to know is what the Liberals will do.
    Here is an e-mail I just sent to Kate Young, the Liberal candidate for my riding:

    Hi Kate. Justin Trudeau has still not responded to the ADCS questions, but he did send a reply to me. (see attached).
    Unfortunately this letter is just more of the same old line that Conservative efforts to protect Canadians was “inadequate.”
    I already know that–and much more. What I don’t know–and want to know–is what Liberals would do about it. Put simply, Mr. Trudeau’s response is woefully inadequate.
    Was this the outcome of you red flagging this with candidates across the country? Due to #TeamTrudeau’s ongoing refusal to answer serious questions asked in good faith and Liberal support for C51, I will not be able to vote for you in October.

  11. This week, I sent FATCA letters, via email, to the NDP and Liberal candidates in my South Surrey-White Rock BC riding. Pixie Hobby is NDP candidate. Joy Davies is Liberal candidate. They both seem quite progressive in their views on other issues. Hopefully they will reply to my inquiries about their views on FATCA. Will let you know if there is a response.
    My past inquiries to the Liberal Party did not give any clear answers about their policy on FATCA and the IGA. Unless there is a clear answer, I can’t vote for them.
    I don’t bother with the Conservatives anymore and will definitely not vote for them.

  12. It’s been four months since we sent the letter to the Leaders. No response from the Cons, NDP or Greens. The Lib response speaks for itself.
    I followed up with Murray Rankin’s Assistant by e-mail several times. (He is the lead on FATCA for the NDP). Today, I decided to use the old-fashioned approach and picked up the telephone and called her in B.C.
    The conversation was tense and strained. My sense was she was feeling somewhat impatient that I am continuing to press for an answer.
    She could not or would not tell me when we might have an answer.
    I told her this is feeling exactly like what the Cons did. First there was silence, then the FATCA IGA was announced.
    She quickly reminded me of the work Murray Rankin has done on FATCA and how outspoken he has been. I advised we appreciated that. However, I also pointed out that Jim Flaherty was initially very outspoken against FATCA, then he went silent for about a year, then he announced the IGA.
    I said the same silent treatment from the NDP is feeling like deja vu. She replied that “it hasn’t fallen off the radar.”
    But she still would not tell me when we might have an answer or what that answer may be.

  13. Following my conversation with Murray Rankin’s Assistant on July 21, I received this e-mail from her:

    Thank you for the call today Lynne. We will endeavour to get you a reply soon. Mr. Rankin is not available right now but I will share with him your concerns.
    Office of Murray Rankin | MP Victoria
    New Democratic Party | Nouveau Parti démocratique

    I replied that same day:

    Thank you. I hope you are able to respond soon. The four months of silence from the NDP has been a huge disappointment after Mr. Ramkin and several NDP MPs were so outspoken before the enabling legislation was passed.
    As I advised, this feels similar to what happened with the Conservatives. First Jim Flaherty was outspoken against FATCA. Then he went silent. Then he announced the IGA.
    I hope we will have better treatment from the NDP.

    On August 4, I sent the following e-mail:

    Now that the election campaign is officially underway, are you able to provide an update on the FATCA IGA and enabling legislation?
    Specifically, what and when will the NDP do if elected?

    On August 6, I sent:

    I’m asking again and will continue to ask until we have an answer.
    When can we expect an answer? It has been over four months since we asked some fundamental questions on FATCA.
    This is feeling like déjà vu. First the Conservatives, especially Jim Flaherty, were outspoken against FATCA. Then they went silent. Then they announced the IGA and betrayed one million Canadians.
    First the NDP, especially Murray Rankin and Nathan Cullen, were outspoken against FATCA. Then they went silent.
    Can we expect better from the NDP or will it be déjà vu?

    There has been no response.

  14. Following my post yesterday, I sent this to Murray Rankin and his Assistant:

    Hello again. As I advised in an earlier e-mail, I will continue to ask what the NDP will do about FATCA if you are elected to form the next government.
    Your lack of response to very direct questions that were asked five months ago is very troubling. As I mentioned previously, silence is exactly what the Conservatives did for months before they betrayed Canadians with the IGA. I hope the NDP’s silence does not signify another betrayal.
    Please advise what and when the NDP will do about this unprecedented assault on Canadian citizens, residents, laws, rights, constitution and Charter.

    I also tweeted.

    Lynne Swanson ?@LynneBlaze 15h15 hours ago
    @MurrayRankin After u & @nathancullen strongly fought #FATCA y r u, @ThomasMulcair @NDP_HQ now silent? http://bit.ly/1Gfh7DF
    Pls reply

    Murray Rannkin’s Assistant replied:

    Hello Lynne,
    We are finalizing our response.
    Again, my apologies for the delay.
    We’ve had people off and as you know we are now into the election campaign period and MP offices are not functioning as they were.
    I’ll be speaking to Mr. Rankin about this tomorrow.
    Maura Parte

    So they didn`t deal with it when Parliament was in session. Now “offices are not functioning as they were.“
    I have no idea what that means for finalization of a response. Of course, five months of offices “functioning as they were“ did not produce a reply to what were very direct questions.

  15. Here is what I sent to Murray Rankin’s Assistant on Friday with a cc to my NDP candidate:

    Hello Maura. It has been 11 days since you told me you would speak with Mr. Rankin “tomorrow.” You said the NDP was finalizing a response to our questions. Yet more than five months after we sent questions, we are getting the same silence from the NDP that we had from the Conservatives.
    People are asking NDP candidates questions about FATCA, They are unable to reply to what the NDP position is,
    Does the NDP care about one million Canadian citizens and their votes (along with those of their families)? It seems the answer is No.
    Here is what one person posted on line today:

    I did think that my vote would be ABC *Anything But Conservative* (a poor way to have to vote). But, if no Party Leader will stand up and legitimatize the FATCA issue in Canada, my vote may be *None of the Above*. If you, dear Opposition Party Leader, NDP or otherwise, do not have the time or inclination to weigh in on this, then I DO NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING YOU MAY PROMISE. I see no reason to give you my vote — you disgust me!

    My own NDP candidate (whose wife was born in the U.S.) cannot answer my questions on FATCA. So, I may also refrain from voting for the first time since I became a Canadian citizen 42 years ago. Or I will vote for the party that shows me they care about fundamental rights of Canadians.

    Will that be the NDP? When can we expect a response?

  16. This is an e-mail that I just sent to Justin Trudeau with a cc to my Liberal candidate.

    Last week, you said “All Canadians have to know that the government has their back.”
    You insisted the Conservative government’s Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act “devalues Canadian citizenship by creating two classes of citizenship.” You vowed to repeal that Act. You promised a Liberal government “will guarantee that all Canadians’ fundamental rights are respected as guided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
    So, why aren’t you taking such a strong stand against the FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and the enabling law that supersedes all Canadian laws on the demands of a foreign bully?
    Would a Liberal government “have the back” of Canadians born in the United States? Would a Liberal government repeal the IGA? If not, would a Liberal government amend the enabling legislation to protect Canadian citizens and residents born in the U.S.? Would a Liberal government restore full citizenship to Canadians born in the U.S.? Would a Liberal government “guarantee that all Canadians’ fundamental rights are respected as guided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”

    I know what your father would have done. He would have stood up for one million Canadians. He would have told the United States “You can’t FATCA Canada or Canadian citizens.” When the media asked how far he would go to have the back of Canadians, he would have said “Just watch me.” He would have guaranteed that Canadians born in the U.S. have their fundamental rights respected under the Charter.
    What will you do? Are you ready to stand up to the Americans for Canadians? My vote depends on your answer.

  17. I just gave the reply from the NDP its own thread, but I am posting it here also so it remains available in this thread.

    RE: US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)
    Thank you for writing to share your ongoing concerns regarding the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between Canada and the United States designed to implement FATCA in Canada.
    New Democrats are deeply troubled by the implications of FATCA and the associated IGA, and we are closely monitoring the litigation your organization has commenced against the Government of Canada.
    From the beginning, many organizations raised the alarm that the IGA for the implementation of FATCA in Canada may violate the privacy rights of Canadians and could be subject to constitutional challenge.
    The NDP has repeatedly raised concerns about the FATCA agreement that was negotiated behind closed doors and rushed through Parliament without proper consultation or examination.
    Previously, New Democrats called on the Conservative government to acknowledge the broad concerns expressed by Canadians and civil society organizations regarding the implementation of this IGA. We asked the Conservative government to agree to remove it from omnibus Budget Bill C-31, which granted the Minister of National Revenue sweeping powers to make any regulation necessary to carry out the agreement.
    It is my belief that the decision to rush this legislation through Parliament was reckless and, as a result, it lacks the safeguards needed to protect many of the rights that Canadians so dearly value.
    New Democrats have repeatedly questioned Conservatives in the House of Commons and at the Standing Committee on Finance. It became abundantly clear that the Conservative government has very little understanding of the consequences of FATCA and has been tone deaf regarding the very real concerns of hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
    Moving forward, New Democrats remain committed to ensure that Canadians’ voices are heard and that our laws are consistent with the constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Canadian sovereignty more broadly.
    A New Democrat government will order a full and urgent review of the FATCA IGA to identify and address all measures that threaten the constitutional and privacy rights of all Canadians.
    We will seek to reopen the IGA for renegotiation with the United States in order to address the serious concerns of Canadians and ensure that their rights are protected. We will do so in an open and transparent manner – instead of the secretive manner pursued by the Conservatives.
    More broadly, we will ensure that all proposed legislation is subject to a more robust screening to ensure compliance with the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Conservatives have failed to uphold this duty, with the result that, in many instances, litigation was initiated that could have been avoided.
    As noted above, New Democrats continue to closely watch the progress of your litigation against the Government of Canada.
    We also understand that many people across Canada are now directly facing the consequences of the agreement. New Democrat Members of Parliament will continue to assist individuals access the information and resources they need regarding how the FATCA IGA affects them.
    Please feel free to contact me with any concerns you may have.
    Murray Rankin
    NDP Candidate for Victoria
    NDP Deputy Critic for National Revenue

    1. Today I have been preparing an e-mail for my riding’s NDP candidate so it’s good to get this update. I am guardedly optimistic about the NDP. I had already included my appreciation for the efforts to bring sanity to the FATCA debate (such as it has been) by NDP MPs, Murray Rankin and Nathan Cullen. Thank you for your perseverance, Lynne. You are so good at keeping your foot down on the edge of the rug to keep this issue from being swept out of sight in the run up to the election.

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