In short, whether it was Rankin's intention or not, his letter essentially is saying the NDP will oppose the IGA currently being negotiated by Flaherty. Indeed, since the same defects he identifies in his letter -- violations of the rights and civil liberties of Canadian citizens and residents (" individuals residing in our own country "), inequality with the U.S. -- would apply if Canada allows extraterritorial enforcement of FATCA even without an IGA, Rankin's letter is tantamount to opposing FATCA itself.
In Canada, as in much of the rest of the world, the question of how to face up to the FATCA threat has been poisoned by the baseless belief that no alternative is available. (For example, one prominent Canadian financial industry leader critical of FATCA has said that financial institutions have "no choice but to comply with U.S. law because the penalties can be onerous -- a 30-per-cent tax on U.S.-source income, . . . authorities around the world have come to the conclusion they must deal with the United States to make this as administratively feasible as possible.") But dealing with the Treasury Department "to make this as administratively feasible as possible" can mean only walking right into the IGA sellout against which Rankin rightly warns. It's a result that no one in Canada could possibly welcome, except for a few who might share the views of U.S.-born Canadian commentator and FATCA fan Diane Francis, who's at least honest about favoring Canada's absorption by her former country . . .
Time for All Canadians to do the Right Thing -- and Americans Too
At the time of this RepealFATCA.com bulletin, Flaherty had not made any public answer to Rankin's letter, though it's conceivable he has done so privately. (The letter was also CC'd to Peggy Nash , Official Opposition Critic for Finance -- NDP's "shadow" claimant for Flaherty's job!)
It's in the interest of neither Canadians nor Americans to keep this matter under wraps. The Opposition (including the Liberals as well as the NDP ) needs to challenge the Harper Government to come clean about what they're preparing to give away to the Treasury before any IGA is signed, not afterwards. On the merits, the Government should welcome such an inquiry, as it would give Harper, Flaherty, and other principled Members of the ruling Conservatives an opportunity to jump out of the dead end they've been led into and stand up for Canada's sovereignty and Canadians' rights. They should walk away from the IGA negotiating table, and tell Treasury that Canada's answer on FATCA is just, plain No.
A firm, public rejection of FATCA from Ottawa, with an IGA or without it, and a preparedness to implement any necessary countermeasures if Treasury is foolish enough to try to impose FATCA unilaterally, would be the surest way to avoid its "onerous penalties." Ottawa's rebuff would in turn strike a major blow against the already faltering IGA process and set the stage for repeal of " the worst law most Americans have never heard of. "
The Rankin letter text follows:
September 25, 2013
The Honourable James M. Flaherty, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Finance
Department of Finance Canada
140 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5
As Official Opposition Critic for National Revenue, I am writing to express my serious concerns regarding negotiations with the United States over the implementation of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).