The following email was sent to my MP, Scott Armstrong, signed with my real name:
Dear Mr. Armstrong;
In 1958, my Canadian parents crossed the US border and attended the nearest “maternity home” where I was born before we all returned home to Canada. Since that time, I have never lived, worked or voted in the US. I have always lived, worked, voted and paid taxes in Canada. I also bank here, where I continue to live.
As someone who has voted for you in the past, I would request that you answer the following questions, the answers to which will determine if I ever vote for you again:
1. Do you consider me to be a Canadian who was born in the US, or a “US person” who lives in Canada?
2. Based on the fact I am Canadian, have always lived and worked in Canada, and do all my banking here in Canada where I live, do you consider my bank accounts “offshore” and the business of any foreign government?
3. According to the Master Nationality Rule, a Canadian living in Canada is only Canadian. Do you believe this, or do you believe that a Canadian living in Canada can also be American or Eritrean, and thus be subject to the laws of those nations while in Canada?
4. Do you believe that might makes right (i.e. that the US can do what it wants inside Canada, because of its might, but Eritrea is not allowed to do the same thing) or that Canada should stand against all foreign marauders?
5. Do you support the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its guarantees to protect people from unlawful search and seizure and to not be discriminated against based on national origin?
6. Do you support the FATCA IGA, which assists the IRS in a fishing expedition which, while allegedly aimed at tax cheats, will actually result in a massive by-catch of honest, law-abiding Canadians (and we know what becomes of the by-catch on a fishing expedition)?
7. If you answered “yes” to 5 and 6 above, how do you reconcile that, considering that the IGA violates the protections guaranteed in the Charter?
8. Do you honestly believe that there will ever be reciprocity, when all the US is promising to do is “to pursue legislation to provide reciprocity” or do you accept that Canada will get nothing from this except to maintain the status quo (i.e. avoid economic sanctions)?
9. Do you believe that Canada is a sovereign country, and should not acquiesce to the extortionist demands of foreign powers?
10. Would the Conservative government be so quick to sign an IGA that violated the Charter rights of any other group except “US persons”, or is the political calculus that Americans are unpopular enough that trampling on their rights will have little political fallout?
11. When the enabling legislation for FATCA is tabled, do you intend to support it or to take a stand for Canadian sovereignty and the Charter rights of all Canadians?
Thanking you in advance for your prompt reply.
There is no honest view that it is a good deal – only ill-informed. The things the $50000 threshold is in the template. They didn’t “get it”. Somebody can double check but that is my memory. The carve out for registered accounts was the only ” win” and is a nothing since they will get it anyway once they have SIN numbers and addresses of potential victims. Plus banks can just send it anyway – without sanction – if it is too much bother to filter out.
This is an evil deal with the devil – no benefit to Canada and potential exponential increase in risk of extortion demands falls on Canadian shoulders. If he is naive enough to think he his helping his US Person relative by voting yes, he is a pretty sorry trained seal. Sorry for sounding extreme. I know how party discipline works but I expect people to be honest enough to say ” I have no choice”.
Great letter, Canadian Cop
Maybe you could follow up with your conversation with this. One of the big US lawyers our government consulted in crafting our FATCA IGA is calling FATCA a “train wreck”. I wonder if you might ask him how he now feels about Canada being on board?
@bubblebustin and @Only a Canadian
As per your suggestions, I just sent the following addendum to my previous email. I just got home from work and am a little tired, so I hope it makes sense:
Dear Mr. Armstrong;
Thank you for your telephone call yesterday in response to my previous email. Just as an addendum, I would like to make a couple of further submissions for your consideration prior to your voting on enabling legislation for FATCA.
John Weston arranged for prominent US tax attorney Mark Matthews to come to Ottawa on May 30, 2012 to brief Caucus members concerning these matters. To see what Mark Matthews has to say about FATCA today (“It will be a train wreck”), please check out this link:
For an in-depth analysis of the legality of FATCA IGA by Allison Christians (McGill University – Faculty of Law) and Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen’s University – Faculty of Law), please download the submission located here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2407264
Professors Christians and Cockfield state, “We examined the proposed Implementation Act and the IGA and we find that they raise a number of serious issues ranging from likely constitutional violations to violations of international law. We submit these comments in the hope that they will help lawmakers and the public understand that FATCA, while intended to catch tax evaders, is poised instead to impose serious and unjustified harms on people who live around the world as non-resident U.S. citizens and green card holders, as well as their family members and business associates.”
FATCA is bad law. It should not be tolerated by Canada in any form (with or without an IGA). To acquiesce to the demands of a morally bankrupt bully is to accept responsibility for the consequences of the bully’s actions.
I trust that if you take the time to become thoroughly informed about the implementation of FATCA and its unintended consequences, you will not support the enabling legislation.
Makes absolute sense. I think you put Mr. Armstrong in the position that he will have to willfully ignore the facts and the experts in order to vote in favour of the IGA. Superb!
Nice work in keeping the pressure on those who might default to toeing the part line, Canadian Cop. You show great self-restraint where others like myself wouldn’t. No need to give them reason to stop responding.
This sort of causes a “conflict of interest” to you. What laws do we enforce in Canada and which laws can the government sign away? It seems the law, when in “favor” of peace, stays being the law. when the law, when in favor of money and discrimination, it will be changed to be in favor of what the government wants. I sometimes feel, we will only win this fight when Canada becomes more like Syria. When the people have finally had enough of corrupt politicians and finally take over their country, it will end. We have been in control of criminals for way too long.
Great email to your MP! Please let us know if you get a response.
Re; the FATCA ‘proof is in the pudding’;
The Conservatives are willing to go so far as to enact legislation to empower a foreign law on Canadian soil, which law is designed to supercede Canadian ones, suspend due process and other civil and human rights under the Charter and Constitution, force those affected to prove to foreign (US) satisfaction that they are ‘US tax compliant’, and rely on foreign – i.e. US legal determinations of our status (re US citizenship and PR laws), and whether we are ‘tax cheats’ under US laws as a guarantee that Canadian citizens, legal residents and Canadian businesses will not be harmed.
Taxing, penalizing and suspending Canadian civil and human rights wholesale based on one’s accident of birthplace, parentage, or national origin is what the Conservative MP is willing to accept as a ‘good deal’, and enact as legislation.
Usually the burden of proof is on the government to show that a person has committed a crime before commandeering their personal information and sharing it with a foreign country.
Usually a law should investigate and quantify the negative results and potential for harm BEFORE it is enacted.
Where is the cost-benefit analysis? Where is the legal opinion the Harper government should have or did obtain? Where are the statistics and calculations regarding the amount of potential harms that Canadians would incur – ex. compliance costs, IRS penalty liabilities, cost to Canadian tax base and economy, costs in terms of the resources required for the civil service/CRA, etc. to implement FATCA now and forever, accountholder fees, etc.
Why the secrecy? Why the so heavily redacted results (including even the TITLES of relevant documents) in the documents obtained via FOI ? If it is such a good deal, then surely the Conservatives should be willing and able to demonstrate that to their fellow Canadian citizens, taxpayers and voters via public access to whatever opinions and facts and reports Harper and Flaherty commissioned and amassed to support that. IF those reports don’t exist, then why not?
The FOI results refused to even state WHETHER an opinion had been SOUGHT, much less obtained from the Justice department – citing privilege.
Do MPs usually enact laws and enter into international agreements which submit substantial portions of their law abiding, tax compliant, constituent Canadian population to potential grievous harm and then see AFTERWARDS if the law is a harmful one?
If Conservatives are willing to delude themselves that we can afford to have legislation enacted to implement FATCA and THEN see what the pudding tastes like for those who ‘aren’t tax cheats’, then they are saying that they are willing to inflict potential bankruptcy or the severe depletion of Canadian citizen’s and resident’s Canadian family assets on > 1 million Canadians directly and all the rest indirectly (ALL taxpayers and ALL accountholders) through higher financial fees and higher Canadian taxes in order to appease the aggressive extraterritorial demands of a foreign country. Even if the US is unable to collect extraterritorially, FATCA helps them to deem many potentially non-compliant, and the onus would be on Canadians to prove that they are not. Which is a very expensive and onerous proposition. As is amassing all the account and asset information required of FIs and many NON-FIs and remitting it forever to the US.
As Canadian political representatives, their only legal concern should be that we have complied with CANADA’s tax rules. Which we have. And they know that the US considers ALL those they deem to be ‘US taxable persons’ who have Canadian sited accounts and savings to be non-compliant if we meet the ridiculous filing thresholds (ex. 10,000. aggregate – including any NON-personal accounts with a signing authority) and have not filed all those complex financial information reporting forms – of which the FATCA form 8938 for individuals is NEW it did not exist at the time the Canada-US tax treaty was last tweaked http://www.fin.gc.ca/n07/data/07-070_1-eng.asp http://www.cga-canada.org/en-ca/AboutCGACanada/CGAMagazine/2008/May-Jun/Pages/ca_2008_05-06_prof_taxstrategy.aspx
If the ‘pudding’ result proves that FATCA is a bad deal for Canada and Canadian citizens and residents, and poisons Canadians then what? Too late – the legislation is already in place.
So, what remedy is the Conservative Party proposing – IF ANY, if the FATCA IGA results in as much damage as we know it will? AND are they proposing to keep tabs on that result? How?
FATCA is entirely under US domestic political control. There is no Canadian control of any future changes enacted by the US, in terms of who it applies to, how it is applied, the thresholds, the penalties, etc. There is no remedy, no recourse.
What a pudding.
“…Under an IGA, the other government agrees to amend its data privacy and other laws in order to accommodate the collection and reporting of information on U.S. tax residents under FATCA. The types of laws implicated include laws governing the collection and processing of “personal data”; laws forbidding the government from collecting personal or financial data on a group basis, rather than on an individual basis with some evidence of wrongdoing; laws forbidding the unauthorized use of customer data; laws protecting an individual’s “private sphere”; laws that may disregard a customer’s waiver of privacy restrictions; consumer protection laws, such as those prohibiting the unilateral modification of contracts; civil or criminal laws forbidding deductions from a financial account (such as the FATCA withholding tax) unless authorized by local law; laws forbidding
discrimination on the basis of national origin; and, in the case of the required closure of accounts, laws protecting the rights of local residents (who may also be U.S. tax residents) to open and maintain a bank account….”
Everything you point out only serves to emphasize that the agreement signed by our government was done to serve not Canadians and their rights and freedoms but the banks and the world financial order.
As noted in the IGA itself it ‘follows the guidelines outlined in the OECD’
(this is the UN scheme to tax globally ALL individuals and corporations.
and in reading their convoluted language , which was tedious and boring, the CLEAR intention comes through without equivocation:
They intend to tax the world and there is not one jot or tittle of information they will not demand.
Canada’s government is part of the G8 and part of the G20, which is WHERE these evil plots are hatched to begin with and all participating countries are expected to follow the script and play out the plan.
They were elected by us but they take their orders from those unseen who pull the strings and intend to fleece us all.)
And now they do not even pretend. This morning England said as much and others have come out to clearly detail what they intend to steal.
If you have anything they want it.
FATCA is just the first incursion into the territory of theft of the individual.
ALL individuals. ( they SAY it is ‘US Persons’ is who they are looking for but that is just the first of their aims. First ‘US Persons’ then everyone in Canada and when OECD implements GATCA in September of this year it will be every individual and corporation on the planet. All dollars stolen in this manner will wing it’s way to those who did not earn it but are happy to steal it leaving all others destitute and at their mercy.
We simply are not seeing the forest for the trees.
Just note the uproar now going on in the states when they state they are going to demand that US banks do what FATCA intends for Canadian and all other world banking systems. They are screaming already that it will destroy the American economy. They also point out , quite clearly and accurately, ( as Rand Paul has done previously and most pointedly) that Treasury and IRS have NO authority to negotiate or sign what they call
“quasi-treaties” called IGAs. Treasury and IRS ARE NOT government and do not have authorization of the US to do any such thing.
Yet OUR government had to know this and kow towed anyway to the bullying of the IRS.
Conservative government has a LOT of answering to do regarding this utter treason against Canadians.
Thank you @CanadianCop for your comments and experiences.
Don’t want to burden you, no response necessary – time is precious and scarce, but everything that you have shared has been very helpful and much appreciated.
I guess we all have learned over the years what has been successful in the past. With my temperament, I have found that reasoned debate has worked best. For the most part, venting and/or demanding has not worked for me – it works for some, but it is a skill I have never mastered. I thought about requesting another reply, but think he is to some degree in the same position as his predecessor (Bill Casey) and probably does not want to go down the same path. Casey took a principled stand when Harper reneged on the Atlantic Accord and paid dearly for it. I just made a calculated decision that I would attempt to make a reasoned appeal to Armstrong’s sense of decency and maybe he will have a Bill Casey moment!
I do feel conflicted by much of what is going on with FATCA. I use “discretion” in enforcing the law (I do not believe in “one size fits all” solutions in many cases) and always try to treat people the way I would want to be treated if in their situation. I have learned that there are two sides to every story, and the truth is usually somewhere in between but often closer to one side or the other. Having said that, there are certain things that are absolutes. To me, Charter rights are absolute. I cannot violate someone’s Charter rights and obtain evidence to use against them (with certain exceptions) – all the evidence obtained becomes “the fruit of the poison tree”. It is obvious that the US is intent on forcing Canada to violate rights in a manner that would not be tolerated within the US itself. Within Canada, evidence of wrongdoing obtained in this manner would not be admissible due to the fruit of the poison tree doctrine. And yet it appears the Canadian government is willing to be complicit in this overreach.
@badger and @FuriousAC
I have many of the same concerns. Despite all the assurances that the US is not after people like us, and it will be okay in the end, I am not convinced that I can “take that to the bank”. Haven’t these same people told lots of other whoppers (e.g. “If you like your health care…)? I still liken it to that foreign fishing boat on the Grand Banks – the Canadian government lets the foreign boat (US government) come in and gives them a quota for a certain species (tax cheats and money launderers). The foreign boat throws out its net on its “fishing expedition”, and when it pulls it in the nets are bursting with species they have no quota for (“US persons”). The Canadian government says you have no quota for the by catch, so you have to let them go. The by-catch is dumped over the side, and they float away belly up. Bright prospects. I hope it will not be so, but I am concerned it will be. That is why I am encouraged by the tenacity and the wisdom of those I see posting here.
Time to head to work again – Uncle Sam is broke and needs my money!
You have that completely correct. An earlier attempt was made to implement a worldwide carbon credit and tax scheme which would lead to worldwide taxation of everyone, except the elites. That didn’t happen. Now the USA has provided the FATCA foot in the door to worldwide taxation. This Worldwide Inventory And Taxation Of Everyone’s Assets looks like it spells WIATOEA but what it really spells is CONTROL.
Imagine the Eastern European person who sees what is happening in the Ukraine and thinks …. maybe I ought to start to accumulate a little nest egg quietly somewhere safe .. like in Switzerland, Cayman or even London or New York …. so that my family can run in the dead of night if needs be to escape a Russian onslaught. Yet Russia having occupied my country gets to demand an automatic exchange of information or to see my financial information on computers already in Government Offices sent there under GATCA or FATCA. This is all far too terrifying to believe possible. The US ought to be ashamed of itself for having unleashed this terror on the world.
Beg to differ. A Russian onslaught? I think they should be more worried about US fiscal imperialism. It is a western backed coup which has invaded the Ukraine. The so-called “revolution” was manipulated by outside factions (CIA, Mossad, IMF, NED, the usual suspects). The selected leader of the Ukraine is a western backed puppet and various regions of the Ukraine have been put under the control of pro-western oligarchs.
Crimeans were concerned about their safety and requested Russian protection. Russia did not invade the Ukraine and the troops it had in Crimea were already stationed there by treaty. Crimeans then voted in a referendum (deemed to be fair and free of coercion by international observers) for the Crimea to secede from the Ukraine and rejoin Russia with which it shares a language and history.
Are you aware that the Ukraine’s gold reserves were ferreted away to the USA (NY Fed Reserve) for “safe keeping”. The USA spent $5billion to make this all happen in the Ukraine so the gold and future oil/gas profits could be considered as a good return on the US investment. But no matter what you or I believe to be the truth about the Ukraine crisis, we can certainly agree that GATCA is a bad thing for all of humanity. It is indeed terrifying — first comes the inventory of our assets, then comes the confiscation by whatever euphemistic term they create for it.
@Em – I have no disagreement with you about the US financial / fiscal imperialism . I also understand that the Crimean thing is more complex than most (including the blood ties going back over decades and centuries including the old Russian Czarist policies from hundreds of years ago to plant Russian settlers to the South, South East and South West …. then over years suddenly annex those areas “to protect their Russian brethrin” – this was known as The Great Game and was a constant tension between Britain in India (which used to stretch father north west than it presently does including what is now Pakistan and maybe even Afghanistan) and Russia pressing south”. Iran came into the mix as did the European powers to a degree.
I was not aware of what had happened to the Ukrainian gold reserves.
None of this however invalidates my point that whatever the political threat – people need to be able to stash their funds privately wherever they believe those funds will be safe … they (or their families without them) may need to run in the dead of night with empty hands … try doing that … it is not easy. Some of us had to do similar things running out of Jamaica for example in the 1970s during which for a period one was only legally allowed to take US$50 (correct, FIFTY dollars) per person per year. People became very creative as to how to get a nest egg smuggled out. Much was left behind or given away for a song. A Financial Intelligence Unit of the Police were formed and became terrors. Otherwise good respectable people were demonized and some arrested trying to get a few dollars out of the country. Much of this money (and other assets depending on how long the person felt they had to make their arrangements … including furniture, stamp collections, jewelery, silverware and anything of even small resale value) ran to the US and to Canada and to a lesser extent the UK, Australia and elsewhere. Based on knowing people and anecdotal evidence, the US and Canada were the MAIN beneficiaries. From another direction, there was also a serious investment of funds from Germany into the US and Canada by Germans who wanted to have an escape route should the Russian tanks roll across the North German plains. People need the ability to store the product of their lives in privacy and safety away from prying eyes – and that especially includes Dictatorial Governmental powers. The history of Governments becoming despotic is as old as the history of mankind on earth.
Has anyone else been unable to overlook the significance of the US’s recent and unprecedented use of drones in extraterritorial warfare? In the past, the US has mostly used the “dragnet” approach to every war it’s embarked upon – its wars on terrorism, drugs, and now, offshore tax evasion. Although this approach has been vastly profitable for some, we are becoming aware that there are limits to what the US can afford. The drones to me mark a new and more sustainable approach to war, whereas FATCA is a remnant of an era gone by when resources, both economic and human, we’re assumed to be limitless.
I hope you don’t mind if I share your letter with my MP (I will acknowledge you as the author). I would also like to post it at Garth Turner’s Greater fool (again with acknowledgement of you as the author). It is really good!
Please feel free to share the letter wherever you see fit and modify as you see necessary. We are all in this together, and I just compiled the list from postings I had read on this site anyway. Do not feel compelled to acknowledge me and feel free to personalize it to reflect your situation it if you would like.
@CanadianCop, Thank you, and yes I felt like I was rereading words and phrases that have been written here many times before, particularly re: your first question. Let us hope that our MPs are as astute in picking up the message. Perhaps if we keep bombarding them, it will sink in, kind of like subliminal advertising.
@Canadian Cop ….Looking at your way of enforcing the law, you are a great asset to law enforcement and to Canada. You are a “reasonable” person. Looking at how our MP’s are answering and dealing with our questions, it seems being “reasonable” has left the building. I wish, just for once, an elected official gave me an honest and reasonable answer on Fatca. Just admit that you agree with our outlook on this and that even though you agree with us, we are still a “sacrifice” for our the banks. The unfortunate part of all of this injustice is that Canada is going against what we are trying to tech our children. We even have TV commercials from our government telling kids not to bully and to stand up to bullys. I wish they would look in the mirror. I applaud your efforts and am glad you are here with us.
I absolutely agree with you about the advantage of having offshore accounts for people living in potentially unstable countries. Sadly, the way things are going today, some people will find themselves fleeing from one frying pan to another. I know of an Iraqi family (from a blog called “Baghdad Burning”) which fled from Iraq to Syria. Heaven only knows where they are now. “Offshore accounts” get such a bad wrap. The FATCAnatics are doing their best to make us equate offshore accounts to criminal activity when in fact offshore accounts simply mean, for many people, an attempt to preserve at least of portion of what they have legally earned in their lifetime. It’s not nefarious; it’s simply being wisely protective of what is rightfully theirs.
I got this response to your letter after I posted it at Garth Turner’s blog:
#105 WhiteKat on 03.21.14 at 9:30 am
Awesome, nothing more needs to be said.
Just took a few minutes to skim through Garth Turner’s blog. Very impressed with your efforts – wish I had half your gumption and smarts! I have so much going on that I start to feel guilty if I spend too much “FATCA related” time… I know everyone else is in the same boat. I applaud those of you who are unwavering in your commitment to this cause – I have to pace myself to preserve some semblance of sanity.
@Canadian Cop, Thanks for your kind words. I feel guilty too at times. And a little insane!