A Brocker friend and I have been talking about writing down the history of Brock. Said friend believes that someday, Brock will be remembered as a major force in bringing down Citizenship-based-taxation as well as a *model* of grassroots advocacy in the best Canadian tradition.
The origins of Brock though, are at the ExpatForum where many of us found ourselves after the famous Barrie McKenna article (I have yet to find the one I am actually thinking of and will update when I find it). I recently told him this and he thanked me; then quickly thought about it and said, “oh, so sorry!.” LOL! Here are some of the people who came together there and helped Brock become what it is today. I have tried really hard to include everyone I can remember; anyone who is left out, please let me know and I will update:
Accidental, AmTaker, Arrow, baird68, cafreeb12, calgary411, canadianhoosier , Deckard1138, Don Podmorro, 416, Foxyladyhawk, Geeeez, Greyowl, Johnnb, justbrowsing, KalC, Lovecheese, mach7, maz57 MonaLisa1776, Nobledreamer, Nononymous, OAP, Outraged Canadian, pacifica, Peg, Petros, quincy, rivka88, rodgod, saddened123, Schubert1975, somerfugl, The Animal, Vangrrrl, zucchero81
I cannot remember exactly when I joined, I think it was the second week of October. A couple of days later I was pretty sure I recognized the writing of someone who had signed Rami’s petition. Her name was cafreeb12 and we became quick online friends.I was a complete newbie to the whole world of posts, comments and public banter. She encouraged me to write, was very supportive and I remain forever grateful to her for that. She was experienced in the political arena and one of the first things she did was set up a show on Friday nights on Blog Talk Radio. She was the host and encouraged me to be a co-host; we did all of 4 programs and Petros was our first guest.
There were two seminal events that are ingrained from the ExpatForum era. First, the infamous utterings of Ambassador David Jacobson; “not out to get honest grandmas” who don’t owe anything to the Internal Revenue Service,’ “My message on this is to sit tight,” “We are not unreasonable. We are not unsympathetic. We are not irresponsible.” While we hoped something positive would happen, everybody was afraid to believe him. We had already suffered Shulman’s threats,the endless fear mongering of the compliance industry, read of the horrors of OVDP 2009, the bait-and-switch of FAQ 35 and so on. We waited and waited for the relief promised by the Ambassador. It finally came in early December in the form of IRS Fact Sheet 2011-13. At first people were not sure this was “it.” Where was the elimination of the FUBAR penalties and the refunds for those minnows who paid dearly in OVDP? Not to be found anywhere, that was for sure. It seemed like it would be safe for many who fit the Examples but then again, even the condors analyzed every phrase and proclaimed there really wasn’t anything new here. Things definitely did not feel like the situation was improving.
The second major event was the “mass renunciation meeting” at the Toronto Consulate in mid-October 2011. It actually was only the first of the two required visits and all of the November appointments were taken up due to those second meetings. . One of our buddies from ExpatForum was featured in the article. We couldn’t believe he would “go public!” Even though he had done it all, how could he not (still) be afraid? Not only that but about a week later he left for a visit somewhere in the US. He had no trouble whatsoever in entering. The second, anticipated “mass” meeting never materialized; I was on the list for that one (and if memory serves, so was 416, who actually owes me a coffee!). After what seemed like forever, I finally just made the appointment myself. One step closer to freedom!
The seeds for Brock were sown one day when a post I’d written was deleted. Petros was kind enough to write me and ask if I was okay. We got to talking; I really thought we needed to put together some info sheets so that we needn’t repeat the same old things over and over again. And Petros thought we might be better off if we had our own place to write, research, report and discuss. Less than a month later, on December 10, 2011, exactly three years ago today, Petros started The Isaac Brock Society blog. There was a short period of time where we were posting to both groups. I remember we were signing “Isaac Brock Society” after our names. Soooooo rebellious. Promotion of any kind not permitted there. And then came the day that jimmyjam decided we needed to warn all the folks who were going to emigrate to the US and went over to the US forum. He started to write very long posts and quite a few of them in a very short time. One of the moderators was very irritated by these posts (not one who usually looked over our particular forum) and started getting nasty with comments and then proceeded to start deleting. Calgary411 (yes, our dear, gentle Calgary) decided she had had enough and told the moderator to go back to his/her own forum and butt out of ours (or something to that effect). By noon, there was no access to the forum at all. This lasted for 4 or so hours. When the site came back up, many, many comments and posts had been deleted. Something like 60% of what I had written was gone. I was sick as that represented a lot of information we had compiled in nearly three months of researching. We were warned about the “R” word. Petros posted some “moderator jokes” for which he was permanently banned. He gives an account of what happened here. Many of us deleted our accounts; anything we posted still shows our monikers but as “guest.” After the 12th of January the index seems to have none of our names listed as authors or commentators. A few people still comment there but most of us left. If you are curious to see what remains you can click here.
Some our finest writing came in the early days of Brock, much of it by the earliest of the “new” folks:
Blaze, CanuckDoc, eric, Just Me, markpinetree, USCitizenAbroad, recalcitrantexpat,
Tiger, Tim, UncleTell, usxcanada, Victoria, Watcher.
In the beginning we did have a forum as well as the blog, but eventually, it was eaten up by endless fake members; people posted more on the blog so we let it go.
So many people, amazing posts, conflicts, and messages of support. I cannot even begin to describe it. Surgite! Orwell & 1984. “Fatca, is US law.” Steven Mopsick. Shulman leaves. The increase in media interest and Brockers beginning to give interviews on TV, radio and newspapers. Flaherty resigns. The IRS scandal. The first Streamlined Program with the spooky 20 questions. The development of the SWAT (Special Writers and Teachers) team. Pacifica’s dedication to keeping the project of Consulate Reports and tables of dates/times/places. Petros’ “FBAR Anonymous” where if you even thought of filing that most-hated of forms, you were to phone him up. LOL! The split with Sandbox August 2012. Lois Lerner’s emails disappear. The passing of Jim Flaherty. The 2012 OVDI with higher penalties, open-ended term, etc. BC-NDP caucus via Denise Savoie. NDP MP Hoang Mai. The move from a US site to where we are today. Just Me’s LCU’s & CC&W (Complain, Comply & Warn) as well as GATCA, DATCA and FATCAnatics (LOL) USCitizenAbroad’s “Renounce and Rejoice!” usxcanada’s “sauve qui peut.” EmBee’s incredible lyrics/rhymes. Phil Hodgen. Brock business cards. ‘Hyperbolic, jingoistic rhetoric.” “Form crime”. The Kish-Richardson submissions to US Senate Finance Committee. LM et al kijiji campaign ...Andy Sundberg. Ozteddies And so it goes (as Kurt V would say)…….
This is where I am hoping all of you will write and contribute your memories of what makes Brock what it is. There is just SO much! We want to include it all and for it to be as accurate as possible.
I want to focus on what grew out of Brock because I believe the unplanned, creative and unprecedented resistance to FATCA et al, will be its greatest legacy. NONE of what is below would have happened without Brock. We all owe a great debt to Petros, not only for conceiving of Brock but for his guidance, his persistent resistance and his refusal to back down from what he sees as a gross abuse of human rights. I cannot imagine where we would be without him!
The FATCA Forum
The pivotal event that changed everything was the FATCA Forum (conceived of by John Richardson) that took place at the UofT on December 15, 2012. Hosted by the Canadian Progressive Party, it was beautifully organized with speakers from different sectors; all with points of view affecting our plight. John had met Allison Christians at McGill earlier in the fall; once she appeared here, many of us developed strong ties with her and she remains one of the major spokespersons in the fight against this monstrous issue. Abbey Deshman, Jim Jatras, The Honorable Sinclair Stevens, The Most Reverend Dorian Baxter, and our hero, Petros, all gave much-needed perspective to what previously, we only had experienced in the somewhat-unreal world of cyberspace. As moderator, John gave a great introduction; he kept things going at a steady pace and most importantly, made us realize that if we felt FATCA was a “done deal,” we needed to shut that down right then and there. Very inspiring! The only mainstream political party to accept the invitation was the Green Party; Erich Jacoby-Hawkins attended and arranged for a petition to present in the House of Commons which required 25 signatures. The entire proceeding was recorded and produced by our own Deckard1138. Connections were made and under the surface, plans started to formulate.
Transcripts and videos of the complete Forum. (with thanks to Pacifica and Calgary411 for transcribing).
These meetings were a “first of their kind” and addressed a much-needed acknowledgement of the enormous emotional effect and stress expats were experiencing. “In your face kind of real vs the online shield. The morning sessions were run by a psychologist and all were encouraged to come forward to tell their stories and discuss their difficulties. There was an emphasis on the need for privacy and there were strict admonitions about cameras, cell phones, recording, etc. I was a little late and when I entered, a woman about my age was tearfully relaying her story. Within seconds I realized it was my friend Cafreeb. What a delight to meet her for the first time, like a long-lost sister! It was this meeting where a very important Brocker, IRSCompliantForever appeared for the afternoon session. I did not actually meet him that day and had no idea of how strongly this gentleman was going to influence my life (directly). Here is the list of “symptoms:” (sure they will sound more than familiar-unpleasantly so)
You may feel you need help because:
- You are or have been threatened by the imposition of life-altering fines for failing to file information returns you had no reason to know existed;
- You feel victimized by the Canadian and other non-U.S. media, who have constantly referred to you as a “tax cheat” and advised you to “come clean”;
- You feel “taken advantage of” by the so-called “cross-border professionals”.
- You just want to be compliant with the law, but you receive conflicting advice, and nobody seems to be able to tell you how to do it, yet they are asking for “huge” fees;
- You feel completely misunderstood by the non-U.S. citizens in your life. They can’t understand the feelings of fear, betrayal and injustice that you feel. In some cases, this experience has put your marriage at risk;
- Your health has been dramatically affected by all of this. You can’t sleep. You worry. You have gained or lost weight. You are no longer the happy person you were. You feel that your life has been stolen from you.
The first protest took place in the Ottawa area on September 9, 2013. Our very brave Whitekat and AtticusinCanada arrived at a site where the late Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty was to give a press conference.They handed out leaflets, spoke to people who had gathered and made contact with Globe & Mail reporter Bill Curry. Mr. Curry took it upon himself to ask Minister Flaherty about FATCA! You can hear this here (excerpt begins around 04′ 25″). This also resulted in an article in the Globe & Mail. Our most important lesson learned: two people CAN make a difference.
Calgary 411, Outraged Canadian and the Raging Grannies
Schubert1975 alerted us to a Tory Convention that was about to take place in Calgary October 27-November 2, 2013. He hoped someone might be able to go and repeat what happened at the “Two-Mom” protest. Calgary411 immediately stepped up to the plate, organizing a leafleting activity on public property outside a Convention Hall where meetings where taking place. She also wished to make available a handout of Ques.121-Ted Hsu & Ques.127-Scott Brison, questions which had been presented in the House of Commons.
What was unexpected was a surge of support from a group known as the Raging Grannies! Never a dull moment!
Ottawa Stop FATCA Protest
AtticusinCanada & Whitekat once again spearheaded a protest to coincide with the re-convening of Parliament on October 16, 2013 on Parliament Hill. A mere two days after their “Two Mom protest, they made arrangements for a permit and many Brockers in the Ottawa area were contacted to participate. It was felt that a decision regarding the FATCA IGA was imminent and in spite of articles and contacting MPs, more needed to be done. Though it was a cold, drizzly and rainy day, Brockers stood outside for 6 hours! Ten in all are in the picture with Atticus and Whitekat: Petros, Pacifica, Deckard1138, and 5 others. (Help please!) The additional 5 are: Northern Shrike, PierreD, Mr. Atticus, Mrs. NorthernShrike and Mr. Pacifica. AnneBoleyn was there later. (with thanks to Pacifica!)
We r not a Myth
Treasury Department spokesman Robert Stack claimed it is a “myth” that US persons living their everyday lives outside the US are being harmed by FATCA. This infuriated many and Atticus sprung to action again initiating the “We R not a Myth” campaign on October 21, 2013. A Tumbler page was set up and many interesting photos and situations were demonstrated in this unique form of “protest!”
On Oct 23 2013, our feisty Blaze decided to put up a protest of her own concerning Mr. Stack and his “myth” and FATCA, which Lynne is fond of calling the “Foreign Attack to Control All.” Quite the natural, she gives a very entertaining explanation for her resistance which leads into the focus of the video. Taking the music/rhythm from The Guess Who’s “American Woman,” she reworked it as “American Taxman.” Have a look (or re-look). Just delightful!
Toronto protest November 13-14, 2013 One day I got a call asking if I could come downtown the next week to take part in a demonstration at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. I hesitated because I had purposely not been reading/participating on Brock and had been practising (piano) a couple of hours a day, which is all my arm could take. I intended to just disappear. I did not want to come. But Dr Kish, was very persuasive ending with the words, “C’mon Tricia, you know you will never be able to say no.” I was so mad at myself for giving in. It was going to be cold, I was sure I would feel embarrassed and self-conscious and totally unable to engage anyone, certain they would dismiss us as idiots. I arrived on time for once and I recognized the gentleman from the summer (well, it was easy because he was the only male there at the time). Petros had been in very early and I was informed we were already forbidden to go into the building. In fact, we were not allowed to cross a line past the sidewalk. This was before we were pushed all the way back to the curb by the late afternoon. I thought it might be worth being arrested but Stephen would not let me do it. LOL! Northernstar and Marie were there, with Whitekat and Atticus coming in the afternoon. We started out a bit silly and it became a lot of fun. A surprise Brocker who prefers not to be identified came and we had visits from Laura Secord, someone named Gordon and The Most Reverend Dorian Baxter. We later went for dinner, forgetting to text/email Brockers who had been keeping in touch to report back on the blog. They scolded us when we finally replied, they thought we’d been hauled down to the police station! Of course, Stephen let me know he would be repeating “Now c’mon Tricia, you know you can’t say no…” You can read more about it here.
Toronto Centre All Candidates Meeting, November 18, 2013
Shortly after the Toronto protest, we were invited to an All-Candidates Meeting for the riding of Toronto Centre that was to focus on FATCA. Apparently most of the candidates did not show up but something much more important happened (at least from our point of view). The CBC showed up. And so did two soon-to-be-Brockers; Gwen and Native Canadian. Gwen was interviewed by the CBC. As one commenter noted – making reference to Gwen:
“The sob in Gwen’s voice will get to a lot of people. It got to me. I’ve been close to sobbing but I’m still too mad.”
In less than two weeks, the core group of ADCS-ADSC would come together, we would gain a fantastic webmaster, and future plaintiff (and there would be no more ideas about playing the piano).
December 7, 2013 U of T Dr. Kish wants to crash a book launch.The phone rings. It’s Stephen. Uh-oh. He wants to make reservations to attend a book signing at Rotman. The book is about a merger between Canada and the U.S. What could be worse? He calmly announces that I am to devise a rather caustic question to corner the author. I feel a pit in my stomach. I head him off at the pass and simply ask “What time?” I arrive late. I meet two new folks – Gwen & spouse. They have these wonderful glossy posters and handouts. They won’t be able to come to the book launch. Gwen and I hit it off and make plans to have lunch before putting up posters all over the Annex the following week. We go upstairs, buy our copies of the book and sit apart from each other. The author of this book is someone named Diane Francis. It didn’t go quite as we had planned however, having made contact again so soon helped the momentum grow. Whitekat’s report is here.
The “Solving US Citizenship Information Sessions” During December, plans are made to begin public meetings. John Richardson wanted to create an Educational Outreach program to spread the message far and wide. Meetings were booked in Toronto, Kingston, London ON and London UK. Three Meetup groups (one for Toronto, one for the rest of Canada and one for Europe), Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Eventbrite accounts were set up to promote the talks. Ads were placed on kijiji, craigslist and a number of online sites. The idea is small groups will form in each city and will begin using Meetup to organize people all across the country. The first meeting in Toronto was January 25, 2014. Calgary411 came all the way from Alberta! Finally to meet in person after so much contact since ExpatForum days! It was very exciting and the room was full. That day we learned what we already knew from Brock but much more powerfully when experienced in person. Seeing the looks on the faces of the people as their worst fears are confirmed; a whole sea of OMG moments in one big wave. Makes one determined to do more, so many still don’t know. There is relief in actually talking to them, connecting. This is worth doing. The Info sessions grow into a regular feature for a total of 27 in 2014. (7 in Toronto, 2 each in Vancouver & Montreal, 11 more across Canada and 5 in the UK and Europe). That’s the equivalent of one every two weeks. John delivers a very clear message regarding the evaluation of one’s citizenship status before dealing with what is a compliance problem, rather than a tax problem. You will have tax problems once you have complied! Already confirmed for 2015: Oakville, Toronto & Hamilton. (If you are interested in having a meeting in your area, please contact me at nobledreamer16 at gmail dot com). Here is Blaze’s wonderful synopsis of the London meeting, February 8, 2014.
The Canadian Charter Challenge Fund On February 5, 2014, the Canadian government announced it had signed an Intergovernmental Agreement with the U.S. This would require legislation which the Conservatives quickly rammed through in an omnibus budget bill. Fully expecting this, plans had been discussed to raise enough money to get a legal opinion on whether a charter challenge case could be brought against the government. For a period of at least 2 years, Blaze/Lynne Swanson had contact with Joe Arvay, a noted constitutional lawyer and it was agreed to engage him for this opinion. A bank account was opened on Feb 25 to process the donations to raise the projected $18,000 fee. Ten days later, a draft was sent to Mr. Arvay. The donations ranged from $10 – $1,000 all collected from “little people.”
All these donations were given with the full knowledge that no tax donation credit was possible.
As indicated at the start of the program, any surplus was to be split between The Isaac Brock Society, Maple Sandbox, American Citizens Abroad and the Education Outreach program of Citizenship Solutions. Each group received $1314.00. This was a remarkable demonstration of the strength, sacrifice and determination those affected by this situation (yes, those so-called “tax cheats”) are prepared to put forward.
The Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty/L’Alliance pour la Défense de la Souveraineté Canadienne
Meanwhile, plans were being made to form a non-profit corporation which would be necessary due to the large amount of funds required for the Charter Challenge suit. A Board of Directors was formed, the necessary papers filed with the federal and provincial government, a new website,and a new bank account are set up. We received our incorporation approval on April 21, 2014. The Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty/L’Alliance pour la defense de la Canadienne was a reality!
We received our first donation on May 21 and so far have raised over $200,000 for the legal fees of Mr. Arvay. We also, as before, established social media sources for promotion on Facebook and Twitter in both English and French. We now have established ties with the press, the Green party, the NDP and thanks to the Isaac Brock Society, are known internationally for having the guts to take this on. We are so fortunate to have Ginny and Gwen as our plaintiffs. They are taking such a personal risk on behalf of all of us. Our original claim was filed on August 11, 2014. Our amended claim was filed on October 9, 2014. The government’s defence can be found here. Please check the ADCS-ADSC wordpress blog for updates.
In addition, WASHINGTON D.C. ATTORNEY Mr. Jim Butera of Jones Walker LLP files a submission on behalf of the Alliance to the United States Department of State pointing out that the renunciation fee increase from US$450 to US$2,350 violates the Expatriate Act of 1868 and the U.S. Administrative Procedure Act and must be immediately suspended. Read Mr. Butera’s able submission and our press release in English and in French.
Once again, it is unbelievable that we have no corporate donors and no “sugar daddies.” This burden is being taken on by everyday people, who scrimp and save in order to donate. We continue to try and find ways to encourage those who will benefit and can afford to give, will do so. The government will have considerable funds (our money) to fight us every step, tooth and nail. Help us stop them!
There is one person I have yet to acknowledge. I’ll bet you can guess who it is. None other than the mild-mannered gentleman from June 15 2013 meeting. Dr. Stephen Kish. A person who “makes things happen.” Literally, since we first connected at the Toronto protest a little over a year ago, he has been non-stop, “on” 24-7. He is always working the phone, calling some important person somewhere, trying to work an angle that will help swing things our way. He is absolutely fearless. He critically evaluates everything, no detail is too small to escape his attention. Constantly preoccupied with what is the next best step and protecting the reputation and integrity of every action taken. We could not have a better man for the job. And I must admit, I chuckle a bit every time I notice he is really the one who cannot say “no.”
A Message From Ginny
As you know, I came quite late to the group itself but had heard about the issues bubbling pre FATCA and then somehow stumbled across the Brock website.
I spent days if not weeks reading through the archives, often getting more confused than ever, experiencing some minor omg moments of my own, especially as I hadn’t realized the impact this would have on my ‘first class’ Canadian born husband.
For some reasons I can no longer fathom, I believed for a long while that Flaherty would find a way to resist the big stick of the USA. By January 2013 and up until the spring, I no longer held out any hope. When I started to read that there was a growing possibility of a legal challenge mounting, my legal ears perked up. I felt strongly that this was the correct and only path to take as I felt betrayed by my government.
Fast forward a few months, I read Stephen’s request asking for volunteer plaintiffs. I spent a while considering what I wanted to do, knowing all the many risks it presented. As I recently explained to Lynne, it was Carol T’s particular situation with her son’s dilemma that was my tipping point. Having read her account, that night I tossed and turned and got little sleep. By morning I told my husband what I had to do and I contacted a ‘ Dr. Stephen Kish’ with my request to be considered.
When he got back to me,I think he took a different approach ( wise man and a good reader of people) with me than he does with others who have a hard time saying no to his requests.
Yes he had to vet me of course, but he spent a lot of time questioning me about my awareness of all the risks this would entail for me. He was very careful to point them put to me. As a lawyer, I knew them well and I was also pretty comfortable with press interviews having done those on other public policy and legal issues. I think I wore him down. I gave him the same answer that I have given anyone who asks ( and there have been many!) why are you doing this? My response is always: How could I not? I felt a great responsibility to do so. I have never regretted that decision and no, neither Gwen nor I feel we are heroes.
So today, when I read the comprehensive background, history and early member list handles of dedicated people, I know that, although I wasn’t there at any of those demonstrations, meetings and hearings etc, I rest on the committed energetic shoulders of all those of you who were. Without all that hard work, I would not be able to do what I need to do as a plaintiff.
I thank you and all of them for your hard work and I am proud to be associated with you doing my small part. I hope some day to meet many of you in person so that I can personally thank you and express my gratitude for all that you have done.
Happy Birthday Brockers all.
A Message from Gwen
I have come a long way since one year ago in November, when I was one of four anonymous people (my hubby being one and Native Canadian another) showed up at the “All Candidates” Debate on FATCA in Toronto Centre Riding. The candidates outnumbered attendees 5-4 not including John Richardson who was moderating.
Although my brother and I had been aware of the passage of FATCA in 2010 and had kept an ear out, I had not been all that worried considering it was a made-in-the-US law that I felt could not really touch me up here (ha!). However about 2 weeks before the all candidates debate, my brother had called me to alert me to a radio segment by Anna Maria Tremonti on CBC about the possibility of the Canadian government caving in to the demands of the US with regard to their BS FATCA law. I listened to that segment and it struck terror into my heart. I did a bunch of online searches and somehow stumbled upon the Isaac Brock Society and read and read and read til the wee hours (couldn’t sleep anyway) and listened to the videos getting more and more panicked and angry as I went.
I saw the notice of the debate on IBS and told my husband that we were going! Before going in I was furiously angry but the moment I walked in the door for some reason my emotions got the better of me and I couldn’t help myself; I burst into tears (for anyone who knows me, that is a RARE event!). I had to run off the bathroom to compose myself and when I came back, my husband said that CBC was there and wanted to speak to me….gulp! This was the first of a handful of interviews I did over the past year but it was the most emotional and I barely kept it together (the sob in my voice being very apparent as Bubblebustin noted in her quote). After that, John Richardson came over to speak to me and made me feel that someone was really listening to me and understood the terror I was feeling. I won’t ever forget that.
After that meeting I ended up posting a few questions and comments on IBS and was welcomed warmly as another person who was going through their OMG moment. I was accepted into the fold and started my back and forth emailing in earnest with various members. I met WhiteKat online and we emailed back and forth as we have very very similar situations and discovered we were born within 2 days of one another. She emailed me a pamphlet that she was planning to post on her communal mailbox and I read it over and let it sit on my computer screen for about an hour while I worked on my paying jobs and scoured the net and IBS and Maple Sandbox for more and more and more information (I could not read fast enough or long enough in those days – I spent my last minutes of the day reading articles on my phone as well as immediately upon waking). After an hour I thought….hm…what can I do to contribute? I know…I am a graphic designer so what if I make some changes to this pamphlet, and make it really grab people’s attention? I emailed WhiteKat and asked her what she thought of the idea. She responded saying something like “sure if you want to…why not?” Half an hour or so later I had produced the first of the pamphlets that we have used over the year “URGENT WARNING: USA to Invade Canada AGAIN” and sent it off to WK. Her response? WOW!!! OMG!!! Since then I have designed and produced the “Not Myths” and “We are not Tax Cheats” pamphlets, the identity for the C3F website, the C3F website, the identity for the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty and the website for ADCS etc etc.
I am not even sure how I connected with Stephen Kish but it must have been due to the pamphlets that I had produced. He asked me to get some printed so we could distribute them around the country to various Brockers. I had them printed and mailed a few packages out around the country. I believe some went to Bubblebustin and to Calgary411 and Lynne Swanson. After that, Stephen convinced me to drag my husband to the Dianne Francis lecture so we could hand out the pamphlets in the cold to attendees, while he, Tricia and Gordon went in to pose questions to DF. Later on, on both the coldest two days of the year, Tricia and I slogged around downtown Toronto over a few weekends asking business owners, libraries and community centres to let us post our mini warning posters as well as sticking them surreptitiously into “NOW” magazines. I made Tricia go on the subway for the first time in years lol.
After this awareness campaign and additions of various new twitter and Facebook accounts, we organized the first of the information sessions at the university. I remember us all worrying that we may not be able to cover the cost of the room and decided that if we didn’t have enough people attending that we would all pitch in to cover it. We had promoted the hell out of the meeting on Kijiji, twitter and Facebook, but really had no way of knowing how many people might show up. We calculated that we needed a minimum of 17 people to cover the rental of the room. Well I believe we had something like 46 people show up to that first one and we were ecstatic. The message was getting out and people were starting to heed it! That was the meeting that Carol attended, so I met her, Marie and Petros as well that day. There were a lot of OMG moments happening that evening.
We all hoped that the Canadian government would not sign the IGA and had a running bet going on whether they would or wouldn’t. I was on the side of “they will”. I was getting more and more cynical by the day about the behaviour of our government and they certainly have not disappointed me in that regard. They have nowhere to go but up, as far as I am concerned. Once they did sign it, we all went into high gear. We now knew that we HAD to start a lawsuit come hell or high water. What a lot of work and worry, planning and discussions have gone into this lawsuit, not the least of which was trying to find people who were willing to come forward. Yep, I had to make a big decision. Discussions with my family, my husband and friends ensued as well as with the newly formed board of ADCS. There was a lot of back and forthing going on. I would be determined to do it and then I would balk but then I would think that I MUST do it because I cannot stand by and just let this happen! I WILL not allow it to happen. So I threw my hat in the ring and the rest is history (still in the making). I was quite relieved to know that the ADCS board had found another rebel, Ginny, to join me and we are now moving forward with the only obstacle being money money money. I am constantly amazed and grateful to everyone who has donated and who will continue to donate to this cause. We are on the right side of history and we will prevail!
ed note:the program Gwen refers to is here. This broadcast had a strong effect all across the board; there were upswings in views on message boards etc and we discussed it with many people on the street during the Toronto protest. Featured are Allison Christians, Atticus and Marion Wrobel, (VP-CBA)-
The next major step in our journey centers around those who testified in May before the FINA committee of the HOC. We were fortunate to have Lynne Swanson and Allison Christians represent our point of view on May 13 and John Richardson on May 14. Lynne appeared by videoconference and gave an amazing speech which MP Murray Rankin clearly admired and appreciated. She handled questions without hesitation, directness and challenged explanations such as “Congress has spoken.”
Lynne’s dedication and fierceness are truly to be admired. I don’t know where we would be without her. Allison Christians spoke with conviction about the Revenue Rule and how we should not “HAND PEOPLER OVER put them in a pen,put a spotlight on them and show the US where they are and say come and get them.” Her persistence in bringing forward the dubious nature of the IGA, not only in this appearance but in publications, other conferences, online, etc, is a point our government is going to be sorry for having ignored. Something I missed the first time around was how foreboding her comments were this day. She strongly warns that this information collection is a beginning and that “We cannot use a phrase like “information gathering” to blind ourselves to what is really occurring.”Bravo to Allison for her determination to see the truth be told.
The next day our ally at the FINA hearings was John Richardson. Here is a person who has totally immersed himself in the issues we face; donates huge amounts of time to helping people, and while not directly a “Brocker,” is someone who is without question a guiding force behind many of the activities I am describing today. His testimony was direct and fearless. When asked about an apparent discrepancy between his comments and that of another witness (as to the reality of a financial institution being hit right away with withholding since we had signed the IGA), his response was, “he’s completely wrong.” You have to hear it to appreciate it. Clearly, even the VP of a banking institution did not grasp what was actually in the IGA. He argues passionately for the welfare of Canadian families to at least be considered in the equation. “The most frightening question for these people today is, are you, or have you ever been, a U.S. citizen?” Very powerful presentation!
It would seem a good place to acknowledge those MPs who have consistently and honestly tried to do the right thing; to call this for what it is, trying to wake the conservatives out of their dumb slumber as they blindly give away Canada’s sovereignty. Murray Rankin, Nathan Cullen, Elizabeth May, Guy Caron in French, Ted Hsu, Scott Brison, Charlie Angus, Mike Sullivan,(be sure to notice the heckling of CON MPs yelling out “renounce, renounce” as Mr. Sullivan describes the situation of Calgary’s son-disgusting) and Peggy Nash. I don’t know how Rankin, Cullen, May and Caron could sit through the marathon May 29 meetings, knowing the conservatives would simply vote down every amendment they put forth. This went on for hours and hours. I think they truly deserve our respect and appreciation. They didn’t take the easy way out.
video complete meeting May 13, 2014 (Christians, Swanson) / Evidence May 13, 2014
video complete meeting May 14, 2014 (Richardson) / Evidence May 14, 2014
video complete meeting May 29, 2014 evidence May 29, 2014 NB May 29 (7-1/2 hrs – clause/amendments )
FATCA EVE! ‘Twas The Night Before FATCA – Canada’s Last Night of Sovereignty We are very lucky to have the gifts of our beloved EmBee, who can set any words to any melody in a most delightful way. I don’t remember offhand how it started but somebody realized June 30 would be the last night that Canada would not be under the thumb, yet again, of the U.S. Or as one person is fond of putting it, the IRS Commissioner would now be running Canada.
So a request was put forward and EmBee delivered her magic. Here is her charming recreation of ‘Twas the Night Before
Christmas FATCA – of expat style! (@ 01:11:55)
‘Twas the night before FATCA,
when all through this land
Our law makers shrugged
that they raised their hands
To cede to the U.S.
While dumping our charter rights
into the sea.
all shuddered with dread,
While visions of bankruptcy
formed in their heads.
Yet Harper and M.P.’s
got set to parade
For Canada’s Day
but oh what a charade!
There are many who live here
who won’t jump for joy
As new I.R.S. agents
get set to deploy.
Banks will start searches
for American born
As soon as the sun rises
on July First morn.
Those who get tagged
will have their records dispersed
From here to the U.S.
but that’s not the worst
There’s all kinds of harm
that some people can do
When such sensitive data
comes into their view.
A new project was conceived by MuzzledNoMore in early summer 2014. Why not alert the UN to the miserable situation expats were in? Aided by Calgary411, Allison Christians and a group of many Brockers and Sandboxers, the painstaking effort to document the information began.(I’m aware of Outraged Canadian, Bubblebustin, recalcitrantexpat, Grouchy and Mad, Gwenny, Pacifica, Northernstar, 1 who does not wish to be named and 4 more. A group of 15 in all. Please add your names!). Difficult enough but compounded by having to use a prescribed form. By July 28, a final draft existed and signers were sought on July 30. Time was of the essence as the deadline for getting the complaint in was August 18. This was achieved on August 7 after a little more than a month. It was going to be a long wait as an answer would not be forthcoming until April 2015. Then, an unexpected snag. There was no confirmation the document had even been received. This went on for some time; Calgary411 repeatedly emailed and phoned yet received no response. Finally on November 6 receipt of the application was acknowledged. Hats off to a fine cooperative effort by such a large group of people! And not 5 minutes ago I saw a Tweet noting that today is the 66th anniversary of the UN Declaration. “The work of winning human rights is never over!”
The “Famous Folks List”
Another fine project undertaken was to create a list of notable Americans in Canada, Canadians in the US , etc, who could be approached for support for the court case. This was led by LM and included Charl, MuzzledNoMore and Grouchy and Mad. They searched and searched and searched trying to obtain email addresses, snail mail addresses, twitter addresses, etc. Talk about tenacity & perseverance! Then one day the unthinkable happened. LM wrote a frantic email asking everyone to save whatever part of this massive list they had as her master list disappeared from her computer. I am sure you all are familiar with this level of terror! All that work. Irretrievable. Another OMG moment! Fortunately it worked out and the list was saved. However, the lack of response plus the “new no spam law” really put a dent in this project. I am not sure everyone is aware of this accomplishment as I don’t believe a post was created about it. I wanted to include it as it demonstrates one of the greatest things about this group- people “just pick up the ball and run with it.” The cooperation, sacrifice and chutzpah are astounding! Thank you ladies, for this. I am sure it will be useful at some point in the future.
We have had our glum moments too. Outside of the “US Persons” problem. Lynne Swanson, our Blaze, took a fall which way-laid her for quite a while. No small thing to have to rest (especially someone with her energy!) and slowly engage in rehab with no idea whether one will be able to get back to the state preceding the incident. Can you imagine as well, she was unable to use a computer to compose articles to submit for publication as she has since day one. Happily, Lynne seems to be doing very well and I know all of you will be so glad to know this!
We lost two of our earliest and most cherished Brockers in the last months.
Brock Warrior Down Don Whiteley (Arrow) was a real fighter. His articles appearing in Vancouver publications were among the first that brought our issues to the public arena.Inever had as much contact with him as others so I hope they will add to this. He had been in remission and then suddenly, it came back with a vengeance. Not one to back down, he agreed to an experimental treatment that had no assured outcome. He undertook this bravely but sadly, did not survive. Brockers who knew him well did reach out to his family and he will be sorely missed.
Our other revered warrior was Roger Conklin. What a gentleman and a class-act. The Foreign Earned Income Exemption was drastically reduced by the U.S. Tax Reform Act of 1976. He had to leave a thriving business in telecommunications and drag his family back to the US from Brazil. Can you imagine that level of upheaval?
Many people would become bitter and angry. Not Roger. He served American Citizens Abroadfor 40 years, on the Board and as Director. He testified before the Senate Ways and Means Committee numerous times beginning in 1978 and as recently as 2011!. He was not deterred by their lack of action. Everyday he commented on countless news sites and almost that often sent an email to make sure we knew what was out there to contribute our .02 worth. All this and he was already well into his eighties!
He advocated tirelessly for the issues faced by American citizens and companies abroad long after it ceased to affect his personal situation. That speaks volumes about the fine man he was. An “American” in the best sense of the word. We will miss you Roger!
Okay. I am finally finished. I realize this is a subjective (and very limited) account of what Brock has been and what it has become in the short three years of its existence. I hope this stirs some memories, ideas, whatever, for all to share what Brock means to them. Please stay tuned for changes, additions and updates. This story will be an ongoing work-in-process. Do you have a favourite post, story or memory to share? Let’s celebrate! Thanks for the listen!