Now comes some serious counter-pressure from the Opposition, which may help clarify where Canada stands. While smaller parties like the Progressive Canadians (no representation yet in the House of Commons) and Greens (one Member, Elizabeth May ) have been commendably forthright in their resistance to FATCA, the major Opposition party, the New Democratic Party (NDP) , has been largely silent, or even passively supportive of FATCA in the mistaken belief it is merely a measure directed against American "tax cheats."
The NDP still hasn't come out against FATCA as such. But in a significant development, Murray Rankin , the NDP's Official Opposition Critic for National Revenue, wrote to Minister Flaherty on September 25 laying out standards that must not be crossed in an IGA. (For denizens of the country south of the 49th parallel who may not be familiar with Canada's parliamentary system, the "Official Opposition Critic" is the equivalent of "Shadow Minister" in the British system -- the Opposition Member of Parliament who would take over the designated Ministry if the NDP " Shadow Cabinet " replaces the Conservatives.)
In his letter, Rankin expresses "serious concerns" regarding Flaherty's negotiations with Treasury to "oblige Canada to enact laws and regulations requiring Canadian financial institutions to comply with this U.S.-based legislation," i.e., FATCA. He also cites the "lack of transparency" and consultation in the " closed door negotiations. " Exactly so. What is being hidden from not only the Opposition but from the public?
"New Democrats are concerned with the prospect of a foreign nation unilaterally imposing obligations on Canadian banks to disclose personal information. The Canadian Government has a responsibility to protect Canada's tax base, and while we understand the United States' desire to protect their own tax base, this should not come at the cost of the rights of individuals residing in our own country. Cracking down on tax cheats should occur through international cooperation rather than unilateral action.
"What's more, the secrecy of the negotiations over this agreement has left Canadians in the dark as to the integrity of their personal banking information. The Canadian government should be standing up for the civil liberties of Canadians. Furthermore, the Conservative government must ensure that any agreement reached is fair for Canada.
"In the interest of transparency, fair taxation and respect for privacy rights, we are asking the government to reject any agreement that violates the rights [of]Canadians or that fails to offer Canada equal benefits to those provided to the United States." [emphasis added; the full text of the Rankin letter appears at the end of this bulletin. ]
Opposing a Bad IGA Means Opposing FATCA