Who can forget this classic scene in the film Canadian Bacon?
Finance Minister Flaherty has given explicit permission to the IRS to collect taxes from Canadian citizens living in Canada. While this strips them of their protection as Canadian citizens, it nevertheless presents a new challenge to the IRS. Should we presume that the IRS can operate in Canada while ignoring all the laws of Canada? Or shouldn’t they have to obey, just like all other government agencies, the laws of our land. One rule that I’d like to see them obey is our official languages law.
The Official Languages Act assures the equality of English and French in usage in Canada,
The purpose of this Act is to (a) ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of Canada and ensure equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all federal institutions, in particular with respect to their use in parliamentary proceedings, in legislative and other instruments, in the administration of justice, in communicating with or providing services to the public and in carrying out the work of federal institutions;
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms also sets out strict rules about language; Article 20 is particularly interesting:
Any member of the public in Canada has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any head or central office of an institution of the Parliament or government of Canada in English or French, and has the same right with respect to any other office of any such institution where
- (a) there is a significant demand for communications with and services from that office in such language; or
- (b) due to the nature of the office, it is reasonable that communications with and services from that office be available in both English and French.
Perhaps it is time for Canadians to insist on their language rights. The Canadian Federal Government has given permission to the IRS to act as a quasi-federal instution, or perhaps better, a de facto branch of the goverment. Here is a sample letter that one should send to the IRS to see if they will begin to correspond and bill Canadians in their official language of choice:
Je ne parler pas American, s’il vous plait, envoyer toute correspondence to moi en French.
Merci beaucoup, your esclave american, Pierre Fini
I think all Canadians, not simply francophones, should exercise this right. If the IRS refuses to cooperate, by sending not only all its correspondence to you in French, and not only that but all the accompanying instructions for filling out the hundreds of complicated tax forms, the IRS is violating your official language rights. The IRS should receive the same welcome that John Candy received in Canadian Bacon. They should have to collect their taxes in Canada only with respect of our cultural diversity.
Now I am not exactly sure whether the IRS would willingly go along with it. It is their goal to provide such services within the limits of their resources. Here is document setting out their language priorities and French is pretty much neglected. Furthermore, I cannot find instructions, for example, for Form 1040 or 8854 in French or even Spanish, the second most common language within the United States. This is also a violation of our French language rights. Therefore, I believe that Canadians can sue the IRS in a Canadian court for violating the Official Language Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provisions on French language. I would start insisting on French.
We should also make a complaint to the language commissioner:
Subject to this Act, the Commissioner shall investigate any complaint made to the Commissioner arising from any act or omission to the effect that, in any particular instance or case,
- (a) the status of an official language was not or is not being recognized,
The IRS has not recognized the status of French as an official language and this must come to an end. Otherwise, the USA and Minister Flaherty destroy the rights of French language rights in Canada just as they destroy the treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples in Canada.