‘Panama Papers’ show white-collar tax evasion continues; Elizabeth May opposed Canada-Panama free trade deal over tax haven concerns

(OTTAWA) April 6, 2016 – The Green Party of Canada is renewing its call for meaningful action against Canadian tax evaders and countries that serve as tax havens, in light of documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm renowned internationally for establishing shell companies.

“The Green Party was the first party to condemn the short-sighted Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement, which in 2012 gave Panama all the luxuries of trading with our country without requiring any reforms to deal with its status as a well-known tax haven,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “In fact, we were the only party to vote against it.”

“The Panama Papers now reveal much of what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has been telling us for years: that Panama’s lax banking system is being used to hide the wealth of tax cheats around the world. Canada needs to calculate its ‘tax gap,’ and reform the tax system so that the wealthiest pay their fair share. No more excuses,” Ms. May said.

Ken Melamed, Green Party Finance Critic said: “One of the most upsetting discoveries for Canadians in the Panama Papers scandal is that many of these tax-evading activities may not even be illegal. The Canada Revenue Agency is losing out on billions of dollars a year through these unethical schemes, and it’s long past time we put a stop to it. Everyone should pay their fair share to maintain the quality of life that all Canadians deserve.”

Ms. May has criticized the former administration for failing to deal with Panama as a tax haven. In 2012, Ms. May spoke against the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement in the House of Commons:

“When we look at the ways in which Panama has operated as a tax haven, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Panama is one of 26 jurisdictions in the world that have not yet fulfilled their promise as of 2002 to provide tax-sharing information. That would provide a greater understanding of when a country is operating unfairly and illegally to harbour revenue and wealth so that the country of origin cannot tax it properly. The trade agreement with Panama unfortunately does not deal with any of these issues.”