On behalf of millions of us, two VERY brave women, Virginia Hillis and Gwendolyn Deegan have filed the lawsuit. It’s official. But, please, anyone out there – more money is needed to continue the lawsuit, please consider donating to the cause.
Two very renowned lawyers have been retained for the lawsuit, Joe Arvay and David Gruber, of Farris LLP.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into being on April 17, 1985, 29 years ago last week. And since then, I’ve been pondering on how our current government could have strayed so far from what I believe is the intent of the Act, as well the intent of its precursor, the Canadian Bill of Rights.
The Canadian Bill of Rights, introduced back in 1960, stated, in part,
“It is hereby recognized and declared that in Canada there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely,
(a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;
(b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law.”
Well, that seems clear to me – without discrimination by reason of national origin.
Then 25 years later, the Charter was enacted which said (in part),
“Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
There it is again, in plain black and white, without discrimination based upon national or ethnic origin.
I’m no lawyer or legal expert, but I just don’t see how our government can have signed the FATCA IGA in good conscience.
I can only hope that as more people become aware of the implications of FATCA on our Canadian society that more will join in writing to our government officials, writing to the media, and commenting on fallacious articles. We need to get the word out using all the various social media forums: blogging, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google+ and whatever other media exists now and in the future, because I do believe this is going to be a long fight.
We must fight for our rights as Canadians, and Canadian residents.
I’m just an average Canadian who suddenly finds herself in a fight she never imagined could be possible. In the two years since I learned about FATCA, I’ve taken John Diefenbaker’s words to heart, who, when introducing the Bill of Rights, said,
“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”
Free to oppose what I believe is wrong – and for me, it’s wrong that our government is agreeing to treat some Canadians as second-class citizens based upon their national origin.
Free to choose those who shall govern my country – that will most definitely be me on the next election, choosing NOT to re-elect the politicians who are intent on abrogating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Free to speak without fear – since I’m still using a pseudonym, I guess I’m not quite there. And, frankly, I find it unbearably sad that, in Canada, I’m (like many others) worried about coming out openly in opposition to FATCA.
Emailed my letter today. Here’s what I said.
The Department of Finance announced the signing of “An Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States for the enhanced exchange of tax information under the Canada-United States Tax Convention”. The announcement could just as easily have read, “Canada submits to United States’ financial blackmail”.
Historically, Canada has been known for standing up for human rights. In June 1999, the Canadian Human Rights Commission boasted, “When it comes to protecting human rights, Canada is prepared to take on the world.”
With the signing of this IGA, and the accompanying proposed changes to our laws, the CHRC will have to update their website with two caveats, “unless it negatively affects the profits of the banks and big business”, and “unless another country claims the person for tax purposes”.
The Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada website states, “Canadians expect their government to be a leader in the field of human rights by reflecting and promoting Canadian values.”
Our government now needs to be clear on what those Canadian values are, and just what is meant by human rights. Have Canadian values become profit, greed and appeasement? Does place of birth now determine the rights of a citizen?
February 5, 2014 will be remembered as the day when Canada submitted to financial blackmail. It is an unsettling precedent, to say the least. What will happen in the future when the gaping maw of hunger that is the United States has finally used all of its resources, and starts demanding more of ours? How much is our water worth? Our lumber? Our diamonds? Our fish?
The departments of Finance, Justice, and Citizenship and Immigration must be transparent about the deliberation around, and implications of, this IGA and proposed legislation changes.
Canadian citizens and residents have the right to see the cost/benefit analysis produced during the investigatory phase of the IGA. What were the considerations? Did they include the cost to the average Canadian who will bear the brunt of the banks’ implementation costs? Did they include the loss of Canadian savings and disposable income of the million or more people who would have to pay for specialized lawyers and accountants, and to pay fines and penalties? Did they include the cost of changing Canadian legislation to appease a foreign government?
By signing this IGA, Canada has shown that we are vulnerable to financial blackmail. We have shown that we care more about big banks and profits than human rights. What does this bode for the future? Will Canada protect our natural resources? Will Canada protect her sovereignty? Will Canada stand up for her citizens? Will our government continue to change legislation to suit other countries’ agendas?
Canadians should know the value placed on the proposed abrogation of our rights as Canadian citizens.
If our government passes legislation to allow FATCA implementation it will forsake Canada’s long history of upholding human rights around the world, and will betray the rights of every Canadian citizen and resident.
Canadians need to know there is a line that our government will not cross, and just where that line is.
If anyone has been following on Maple Sandbox or Isaac Brock Society, you’re likely aware that we need a legal opinion on making a challenge to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in response to our government caving to the demands of the U.S. to abrogate the rights of Canadian citizens born in the U.S. (or having some other connection to the U.S.).
Stephen Kish and Lynne Swanson are at the forefront of gathering funds for this. GwEvil has created a website specifically for this: The Canadian Charter Challenge Fund
I’ve made my contribution – I hope many do – as much as you can afford. I think everyone realizes that not everyone can donate large amounts, as most of us caught up in this are of modest means. However, every bit will help.
Joseph Arvay is the lawyer we wish to use for the legal opinion. He is well respected, and quoting from his website,
“He has a very busy litigation practice with an emphasis on public law and in particular constitutional, aboriginal and administrative law matters. Mr. Arvay has been counsel on a number of landmark cases in the Supreme Court of Canada – a court he has appeared in dozens of times.”
I’ve also heard that this legal opinion would usually cost a lot more money, so I believe he’s cutting us a good deal – and that should mean something, coming from a lawyer!
Blaze’s Maple Sandbox post
Our Canadian government has a mixed history of standing up to the United States. Some of our prime ministers have pursued a policy of appeasement to the sleeping elephant to the south of us. Some of them have been bit anti-American, others just strongly pro-Canadian. Notable among these are John A. Macdonald, Pierre Trudeau and John Diefenbaker.
John Diefenbaker: We shall be Canadians first, foremost, and always, and our policies will be decided in Canada and not dictated by any other country. (If anyone knows when and where he said this, I’d love to know.)
Pierre Trudeau: Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We’re different people from you and we’re different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.
John A. Macdonald: But if it should happen that we should be absorbed in the United States, the name of Canada would be literally forgotten; we should have the State of Ontario, the State of Quebec, the State of Nova Scotia and State of New Brunswick. Every one of the provinces would be a state, but where is the grand, the glorious name of Canada? All I can say is that not with me, or not by the action of my friends, or not by the action of the people of Canada, will such a disaster come upon us.
This post is a short history of Canada. I’m not a historian, nor any kind of expert, but these are some events that I find momentous regarding Canada, and Canada – U.S. relations.
The next post will be a conjecture on what the future could look like if Canada capitulates to the U.S. FATCA demands. A third post will be a conjecture on what the future could look like if Canada protects her citizens and rebuffs the U.S. demands.
So, a short history:
- The U.S. declares war on the Great Britain and invades territory that is now Canada.
- The U.S. invasion of Canada is defeated.
- The country of Canada is formed.
- Sir John A Macdonald introduced the National Policy, intended to protect Canada from American competition.
- Canada and the U.S. form the Permanent Joint Board on Defence
- U.S. enters WWII.
- As part of the North American Air Defence (NORAD) agreement, Prime Minister Diefenbaker allows the U.S. to deploy antiaircraft missiles on Canada soil. He refuses, however, to accept nuclear warheads on the missiles.
- Canada refuses to place an embargo on goods to Cuba.
- The Canadian Bill of Rights is introduced.
- After a meeting with U.S. President Kennedy, Prime Minister Diefenbaker discovers a secret memo (The Rostow memo) which makes plain the objective of ‘pushing’ Canada’s foreign policy into line with the desires of the U.S.
- Canadian government openly disagrees with American policies in Southeast Asia.
- Canada announces that border officials will not enquire about applicant’s military status, and many Americans opposed to the Vietnam war emigrate to Canada.
- Canada and the U.S. sign the Canada-United States Convention with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital.
- Canada achieves full sovereignty from the United Kingdom with the Constitution Act, 1982. This act includes the Canadian Charts of Rights and Freedoms.
- Canada and the U.S. implement the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA)
- Canada, Mexico and the U.S. sign the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
- Canada and the U.S. create joint teams to patrol the British Columbia/Washington Border – Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBETs).
- Canada and the U.S. sign an amendment to the Canada U.S. Income Tax Convention (Treaty)
- Canada and the U.S. sign the Smart Border Declaration and Action Plan.
- Canada and the U.S. develop joint databases between the Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
- The Integrated Border Enforcement Teams model is expanded across Canada and the U.S.
- For the first time Canadians are required to present a passport to enter the U.S.
- Canada Immigration reports that the number of Americans emigrating to Canada doubled since 2000.
- Canada and the U.S. sign a major amendment to the Canada U.S. Income Tax Convention (Treaty), which includes a mutual recognition of RRSPs and IRAs, as well as a definition of Permanent Establishment (183 day rule).
- The U.S. Permanent Establishment (183 day) rule becomes in effect.
- The U.S. passes a law called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) reportedly aimed at catching tax cheats and tax evaders.
- Canada and the U.S. create the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council to better align regulatory approaches.
- Many Canadians learn for the first time that the U.S. may consider them a “U.S. person” and should be filing income tax and bank account reports to the IRS.
- Finance Minister Flaherty condemns FATCA, declaring that Canada “is not a tax haven”.
- It becomes clear that FATCA is ensnaring honest, tax-paying Canadian citizens, not just rich tax evaders.
- Canada passes legislation “Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations”, paving the way for the Shiprider program.
- Canada celebrates the 200 year anniversary of the War of 1812.
- The Canadian government proposes to modify the Navigable Water Protection Act, deregulating Canada’s waterways, with Bill C-45.
- Canadian and U.S. media label all “U.S. persons” in Canada as tax evaders.
- Opposition to FATCA grows throughout Canada, in the general population as well as political opposition parties.
- U.S. Senator Rand introduces a bill to repeal FATCA.
- The Florida Bankers Association and the Texas Bankers Association bring a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS over a reciprocal FATCA reporting requirement.
- Liberal MP Ted Hsu submits an order paper to the House of Commons with numerous questions about FATCA.
- NDP Leader of the Official Opposition, Tom Mulcair, takes a stand, saying ‘how serious and unfair consequences of FATCA could be for Canadians…”
- Edward Snowden leaks information regarding US government surveillance programs.
- CBC News reports that an Edward Snowden-leaked document reveals that Canada has set up covert spying posts around the world at the request of the US National Security Agency.
- Canada and the U.S. signs policy agreements formalizing Shiprider operations.
- Shiprider goes into operation in New Brunswick.
- CBC reports on an RCMP 2012 memo discussing the request by the U.S. for U.S. police officers working in Canada to be exempt from Canadian law.
- A Canadian Bankers Association representative says in an interview on CBC that banks have no choice but to capitulate to FATCA.
Whether the phrase ‘rage against the machine’ comes from an 1868 Karl Marx speech, or the name of a rap/metal band, over the years it’s taken on the meaning of fighting the unfeeling bureaucracy oppressing the common person.
That’s exactly what those of us fighting FATCA and US citizenship-based taxation are doing – raging against the machine. In this case, the US government is the unfeeling bureaucracy. And rage, well, some of the synonyms for rage are bitterness, indignation, resentment, passion, umbrage, ire, and vehemence. I think all of those fit how we’ve been feeling these past few years since finding out that the U.S. may be trying to fine us out of our retirement savings. Continue reading
I decided to start the new year with another attempt to get CBC interested in FATCA. I submitted the following to them. I don’t really expect anything to happen, but had to try again. I tried to keep it on the shorter side, so didn’t go into all of the ramifications.
I would dearly love to see an in depth analysis of the impact on millions of Canadians from the U.S.’s Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act – FATCA. There have been few stories, and those have not dealt with the true impact of an issue that is imperiling the financial health of at least a million Canadians and their families, with a direct impact on millions. Continue reading
After more than 2 years of FATCA being ignored, lately there’s been some positive progress made on getting this issue into mainstream media to alert all Canadians about what’s going on.
The FATCA issue is now, finally, hitting the mainstream media, we have some big names on board fighting with us (notably Peter Hogg and Allison Christians), and our government is finally being pressured to stand up for us. Continue reading