“We have to tax our people, it is our right,” Semere O. Micael, the Eritrean consul in Toronto, said after the National Post reported that Ottawa had sent a diplomatic note to his government making it clear he would be sent home if he continued to run the tax scheme.
Asked to respond to the consul’s comments, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s press secretary Rick Roth said: “We have made our position on this matter to the Eritreans clear, and we expect that to be respected. The government of Eritrea should not test our resolve on this matter.”
My My My This is becoming awfully interesting. I have to wonder for a whole bunch of reasons whether the US State Department is really thrilled with Canada’s actions including for reasons that have nothing to with the US’ own taxation policies. For one thing Canada is picking a fight with a country that is not exactly in the most stable part of the world over an issue notwithstanding Susan Rice’s US Security Council Resolution the US has not appeared to be nearly as willing to go to that mat over. Canada is essentially in some form promoting a customary international law position against citizenship based taxation something at some point the US State Department will have to notice. Canada does have a history of taking “principled” position in this part of the world over international affairs. When the movie Argo comes out in October everyone will be reminded of Canada’s role in the Iran Hostage Crisis. There is also of course Canada’s longstanding ties to Ethiopia which Eritrea was once part of before 1991. Some of you might be remember the Ethiopian Famine and the relief effort started by Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, and Stephen Lewis and Joe Clark’s famous 1984 visit to Ethopia breaking the western blockade of the then Ethiopian Marxist government. However it is not clear in the present the Ethiopian Canadian relations are much better John Baird for example made a highly publicized but unsucessful visit to Addis Abbaba to win the release of a Canadian citizen being held in a Ethiopian jail. There is also the more recent expulsion of Iranian Diplomats from Ottawa.
Another paragraph in the article should also be observed:
David Matas, an international human rights lawyer who has been assisting Eritrean refugees in Winnipeg, said the consulate was not complying with the substance of Canada’s request.
“To me, that’s making light of the government request. It’s not treating it seriously. It’s trying to play fast and loose. It’s basically trying to pull a fast one on the government of Canada,” he said.
David Matas is not just any old international human rights lawyer he has BIG TIME connections to the Conservative Party of Canada, Jason Kenney, John Baird, and the Harper PMO. My message to the Eritrean government is David Matas is not someone you want to mess around with in Canada. Read any of Paul Wells pieces in Maclean’s magazine about the Rights and Democracy NGO and Aurel Braun.
An article in today’s Swiss NZZ on Eritrea: “Every Emigrant is a Deserter”
“Eritrea’s autocratic head of state, Isaias Afewerki, demands obedience until death from the youth of the small country. Paradoxically, the regime keeps itself afloat with the money transfers from Eritreans who fled from the dictatorship”.
….””What we are saying is that you have to fulfil the law of the country to be an investor because you are a citizen of the country”………”……..But the law of Eritrea is still there as it is, and they have not said anything about that. Therefore, it is not that Eritrea should not ask payment, but you cannot charge here……….”
“…..If Canada doesn’t do something, Matas worries it’s setting up people from Eritrea and potentially other expatriate communities to become walking ATMs for other regimes.
“If Eritrea gets away with it, we’re going to start seeing China doing it. And Iran doing it. And North Korea doing it. And I think we have to make every effort to stop this right now, or else we’re going to see it mushroom.”…”
Eritrea demands that those it defines as Eritrean citizens – despite their Canadian citizenship and residence – pay a tax to the Eritrean government forever.
US demands that those it defines as US citizens – despite their Canadian citizenship and residence – pay taxes to the US government forever.
Eritrea uses threats and intimidation to extort that tax.
The US uses threats and intimidation to extort that tax.
The methods of collection might be different, but the justification given as the rationale is the same; – both countries insist that they have the RIGHT to tax those they define as citizens forever – no matter where they live or were born, and no matter that the individuals have zero economic connection to the country that is imposing the tax from afar.
Those that seek to censure Eritrea but justify the US extraterritorial citizenship-based taxes point to the end use of the funds collected, and their government systems as a rationale for why the US system is justified but Eritrea’s is not.
So, would Canada and the US support the imposition of an Eritrean extraterritorial citizenship-based tax on Eritrean-Canadians resident here in Canada, and Eritreans in the US if the Eritrean government reformed its ways? Do Canada and the US support the right of the Eritrean (or any other ) government to invent and impose taxes on anyone they define as a taxpayer anywhere in the world?
It is convenient to make a distinction between the US and Eritrea based only on the end use of the extraterritorial tax or the methods used to collect it rather than address whether any country should have the right to invent and impose lifelong extraterritorial taxation on those it chooses to define as citizens and taxpayers – despite the lack of any other connection. As for Eritrean demands that expats pay up in order to receive any Eritrean documents and records, we cannot get a Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN), or expatriate from unwanted US imposed citizenship without filing numerous costly and complex forms, and must pay a 450. fee to renounce. Those who have a larger income, or who do not file US form 8854 will be considered ‘covered expatriates’ and subject to an ‘exit tax’ – even if they have NO US economic connection, and even though their assets and income were entirely generated and held outside the US.
Eritreans are being held as economic hostages, and though the US puts a more acceptable veneer on it, so are we.
Hat tip to @Flash…
Great CBC story today about Eritrea’s ongoing shakedown of its overseas citizens … sounds familiar …