Oral Questions: Canada-US Relations

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask a question today of the Minister of Finance relating to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, FATCA.

On the U.S. side of the border, there are concerns raised that because the treaties have not been ratified through the U.S. Senate, these may not be legally binding treaties in any case; and on the Canadian side of the border, no less a legal expert than Peter Hogg, former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, has written the advice that this very likely will violate section 15 of the Charter by treating some Canadians differently from others.

More than 30 years ago, I learned constitutional law in a textbook he wrote.

What will the minister say to its constitutionality?

Jim Flaherty: Mr. Speaker, I was taught by Peter Hogg as well. I got an A in the tax course.

The question is an important one. It is important for about a million Canadians who also happen to be citizens of the United States.

The Americans initially proposed that there would be a 30% withholding tax and there would be direct reporting by Canadian banks to the IRS. We got rid of that. They have agreed that we will use our existing framework under the Canada-U.S. tax treaty, which has been successful.

No new taxes will be imposed. The CRA will not assist the IRS in collecting U.S. taxes.