In light of the Canadian Government’s ongoing IGA negotiations with the US, Maple Sandbox and the Isaac Brock Society today issued a joint letter to the Hon. James Flaherty, Minister of Finance, demanding an answer to one simple question, which to date he has not answered. Do all Canadians have the same rights? The letter is reproduced below. As well, you can download a PDF of the letter here.
It has also been released to media outlets with the following message:
“Do all Canadians have the same rights? For two years, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has refused to answer that simple question while he negotiates with a foreign government trying to financially terrorize Canadian citizens, residents and financial institutions.
Now Isaac Brock Society and Maple Sandbox have put that simple question to Minister Flaherty in the attached Open Letter.
We hope you will bring this to the attention of Canadians and Mr. Flaherty. Perhaps you will be more successful at getting an answer from Minister of Finance than we have been.”
“OPEN LETTER TO CANADIAN FINANCE MINISTER JIM FLAHERTY
November 25, 2013
The Honourable James Flaherty, P.C. M.P
RE: FATCA: Canadian Rights vs. Foreign Demands
We write to you today asking a simple question: Do all Canadians have the same rights under Canada’s laws and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
Your government is quietly negotiating a new tax information sharing agreement with the United States that we fear will remove those rights from Canadians whom the U.S. wants to claim as their own. We would like your assurance that no such removal is being contemplated.
There are at least a million people in this group, with another two or three million family members who will be affected by any agreement with the U.S. that compromises their rights.
We are law-abiding, responsible, tax-paying Canadian citizens and residents, many of us here for decades or our entire lives. We live from Atlantic to Pacific to Arctic. We have studied, worked, retired, earned an income, owned homes, raised Canadian-born families, volunteered, voted, participated in our communities, donated to Canadian charities, saved, invested, planned for our children’s education, their and our own disabilities and our retirement and diligently paid our federal, provincial and municipal taxes.
But now we are suffering as a foreign government tries to financially terrorize us. There have been many sleepless nights. Marriages have been strained. Health and careers have been affected. Some have even contemplated suicide.
Our Canadian citizenship certificates describe us as: “… entitled to all of the rights and privileges and bears all the responsibilities, obligations and duties of a Canadian citizen.” We have met our obligations, and we now respectfully ask you, and the government of Canada, to meet your obligations to us.
As you are fully aware, the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) demands Canadian banks, credit unions and other financial institutions provide information to U.S. Internal Revenue Service – either directly or through the Canadian government – on our accounts with them.
This is a nightmare for us, and it should be for your government. Those accounts are often held with Canadian-born spouses and children. Those assets were earned, saved, invested and taxed entirely in Canada. Income was reported to Canada Revenue Agency and taxes paid. If we refuse to provide consent for transmission of our information to a foreign government, FATCA expects our banks to declare us “recalcitrant” and close our accounts.
FATCA violates Canadian banking, privacy and human rights laws and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yet, under foreign threats, Canadian banks and financial institutions may violate those rights – possibly with help from your government through the imposition of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).
Mr. Flaherty, you yourself wrote “Canada is not a tax haven. People do not flock to Canada to avoid paying taxes.” You called FATCA “unwarranted” and “extraterritorial.” You insisted FATCA would “turn Canadian banks into extensions of the IRS and would raise significant privacy concerns for Canadians.”
Nevertheless, your officials are negotiating in secret with American officials for a “solution both countries will find agreeable.” There should be no negotiating fundamental Canadian rights. It should be clear. Canadian laws and the Charter protect all Canadian citizens and residents. Anything less makes us second class Canadians and surrenders Canada’s sovereignty to a foreign power.
So, again, the question is simple. Do Canadian citizens and residents born in United States or with some bizarre past U.S. connection have the same rights as all other Canadians?
We implore you to answer now. This nightmare has dragged on too long.
This letter is the collaborative effort of Canadians across Canada – most are active participants in the Isaac Brock Society and Maple Sandbox blogs. Many do not want their names revealed now because of an impending betrayal of their financial privacy rights by their government and by their banks. They fear the unprincipled predatory financial attack by the U.S. helped by that Canadian betrayal.
Lynne Swanson, maplesandbox at gmail dot com
Administrator, Maple Sandbox
Peter W. Dunn, petros at isaacbrocksociety dot ca
Administrator, Isaac Brock Society”
I’ve just left this comment (and others in reply to comments already there) at CBC News: Canadian banks to be compelled to share clients’ info with U.S..
Out of moderation.
I can already read the reply in my mind’s eye.
Canadians do have the same rights, but duals are still subject to the laws of their other country and Canada won’t intervene or interfere with that country’s right to make laws and apply them to all their citizens regardless of where they reside or their dominant nationality.
That’s the Canadian govts standard position that goes back a long way.
The real problem is changing this idea that dominant nationality and the personal choice to align with one or another nationality is/should be the way things are now.
It’s important in a world where people are increasingly migrant and more likely to possess dual nationalities.
The world has changed but govts are slow to recognize and respond.
Canada doesn’t just have a FATCA problem. It has a problem with priorities, which is counter product considering our diversity. If a citizen is choosing to be Canadian and reside here, the govt should take that as a sign that they’ve decided their dominant nationality and their allegiance is Canadian and proceed from there.
@YogaGirl, that is interesting. While countries recognize dual nationalities, usually, the oath of allegiance asks you to renounce allegiance to your previous country.
The US one, for example says:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen”.
Doesn’t that mean that when you choose to naturalize as a US citizen, your new US nationality is the dominant one?
How is the Canadian oath worded? Does it have like the US strong words about renouncing allegiance to your previous country?
How is dominant nationality defined?
@Yoga girl wrote, “Canadians do have the same rights, but duals are still subject to the laws of their other country and Canada won’t intervene or interfere with that country’s right to make laws and apply them to all their citizens regardless of where they reside or their dominant nationality. That’s the Canadian govts standard position that goes back a long way.”
Yet I’m not sure on what you base this position. The concept of dual nationality seems particularly young. The US for example didn’t really recognize it until 1986, and that was by Supreme Court decision. The doctrine of non-interference really only applies when one returns to one’s country of second nationality. The first country is unable to intervene because you are in a country of your own citizenship. Thus, Pakistani girls who have British nationality and forced to marry in Pakistan against their wishes, cannot ask the British embassy for aid, because Pakistan claims them as their citizens. Yet when it comes to non-interference, the US is always breaking this doctrine, by attempting to tax its citizens while they are in their second country of nationality (e.g., Canada). This is interference and a violation, strictly speaking, of the sovereignty of those nations. The US is our bad neighbor to the South.
And futhermore, Canada expelled the ambassador from Eritrea on the basis of citizenship based taxation. Thus, Canada will stop the interference when it is a smaller less powerful nation.
@YogaGirl: As Petros says, US laws should not apply in Canada–even to those who are US citizens. For example, U.S. demands any U.S. citizen males between ages of 18 and 25 must register for U.S. selective service–including those with disabilities. So, will U.S. be able to come into Canada and demand that those who have not not registered be refused Canadian student loans or employment with the Canadian federal government–because that is American law?
Will Greece, Israel, Iran, Korea and other countries with mandatory military service be able to come into Canada and demand people born in their countries serve in their military?
Will Saudi Arabia be able to demand all women born in Saudi Arabia be prevented from having a Canadian driver’s license.
Yes, each country has the right to its own laws. What they don’t have the right to is to enforce it in Canada.
@Chris: Many countries do not require you to renounce other citizenship. Canada ceased that requirement in 1973. Thankfully, my Canadian oath did require that and I have a signed copy, witnessed by a Canadian citizenship judge in my safety deposit box in case I ever need it.
@Blaze, that document alone should be enough to have your accounts safe and not reported, right?
I must ask about the words “dominant nationality”. Most Canadians who have dual who had no clue about US tax requirements etc. are Canadians on paper and their “dominant nationality” is Canadian. I wonder if there is anything in Canadian law to support this..
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Some progress at last?!?
Good synopsis of all the recent Canadian press
I have to say that this open letter is perfection! Thank you Lynne and Peter. At the end of my recently Canadianized 123 questions (I deleted the 2 repeated and replaced them with 2 of my own) I added the paragraph below (stolen and modified slightly from something Calgary411 found somewhere I believe) and now my latest attempt to reach Minister Flaherty will soon be on its way. It pales however in comparison to this beautifully done Open Letter. We’ve all just got to keep trying … those secret negotiations are ongoing and one day the hammer will drop.
“In addition to the 123 questions above it should be taken under consideration that both the OECD and the G20 require that member countries comply with international standards, one of which is the factor of residency for the collection of taxes, including universal income. This means that under the universal tax system, a citizen of Europe, Mexico, China, India, Japan, Canada, etc., pays taxes to their country of residence. In contrast, the USA violates this international standard and taxes its citizens wherever they reside. An implementation of FATCA would require that the rest of the world become tax collectors for the USA.”
@Em: It was signed by Peter and me, but it truly was the work of several people. Special thanks to Arrow, Pacifica and IRSCompliant
And may the dogs (truly our best friends) bless Arrow, Pacifica and IRS Compliant too! Thank you all! 🙂
557 comments now…double from about 4-5 hours ago.
@calgary411, it may not matter, but I notice that the open letter is dated “November 25, 2012”, not 2013. I assume that’s just a typo. Maybe it can be corrected.
I’m just back from appointments. Thanks for pointing out that glaring error. No one caught it. I have sent it to the people who are now transmitting it further. Thanks, AnonAnon.
It could have as easily been 2012!
Thanks for spotting that, AnonAnon, and thanks for fixing it, Calgary.
A big thanks you to those who’ve crafted this letter, Lynne and Peter for putting your names to it. Sorry I put the CBC article’s comment tally on the wrong post here.
I have left a comment simply asking people to get involved and learn about this. I really think in the last 2 weeks, this is getting more attention and more are getting involved. I can’t say thanks enough to the Brockers and Sandboxers who stand firm and have helped me, but what I can do is help out and make my opinions known. I wrote 2 letters of my own to Jim Flaherty and and Stephen Harper. I wonder if a large scale information session “Live” might get more attention now with the Media…. This has to be louder than Mayor Ford’s show!
Petros, I actually didn’t know anything about this Canadian policy until I was reading an article about Mulcair (which I will try to find). Officially this all comes up under “disadvantages” of being a dual, which I found here (http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/publications/dual-citizenship), but I think it highlights the fact that Canada just tries to avoid squabbles about their “partially owned” citizens.
In my opinion, it’s probably past time that the whole dual thing be discussed in Canada and everything spelled out. That way from then on, people will understand just where the govt does or doesn’t stand on having duals backs.
Under Harper we have become the 51st state
Under FATCA, EVERY country becomes the 51st state.