The CRA needs to shift its Sheriff of Nottingham approach to tax-collection and have the rich pay their fair share.

Green Party of Canada Leader, Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands), applauds the diligent work undertaken by the Office of the Auditor General in their 2018 Fall report to Parliament. Their findings, however, reveal numerous gaps that successive governments have been neglecting to mend.

“The report on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is particularly troubling,” says Ms. May. “It reveals that corporations and international businesses, including banks and taxpayers with offshore accounts, are more likely to have their files closed and be exempt from interest payments and penalties while individual Canadians don’t get the same breaks.”

“More alarming is how Sheila Fraser rang the same bell during her tenure. Does the CRA have a culture of conveniently ignoring tax-evaders who have the means to hire a lawyer? In her report to the Standing Committee on Finance in May 2007, Ms. Fraser explained how the CRA’s risk assessment techniques were insufficient. Specifically, the CRA was “inconsistently” approaching international audits because they did not have the capacity to tackle the highest risk files. In other words, CRA has had over 10 years to correct the problem. This is especially disconcerting in light of the Panama Papers.”

“The CRA needs to shift its Sheriff of Nottingham approach to tax-collection and have the rich pay their fair share rather than concentrate audits on hardworking Canadians because its easier to have them pay.”

“Another unacceptable finding was with respect to the conservation of heritage buildings. Canadians will be surprised to learn that some government departments are not even aware of the heritage buildings in their care. Can you imagine a shepherd unable to identify his flock? The report also indicates how numerous sites are in severe disrepair, including lighthouses whose owners were never given additional funding to conserve them. In 2012, the Harper Conservatives had cut Parks Canada’s budget by 10%. It’s incumbent on government departments to request more funds if they are needed. If a heritage building is ruined, it can no longer be restored and it becomes a permanent loss for present and future generations of Canadians.”

“Finally, we’re nearly two decades into the 21st century and internet connectivity remains a problem for Canadians in rural areas, essentially creating tiered citizenship where some Canadians cannot conveniently access banking and commercial services, not to mention government and health services. I can tell you that my constituents on Galiano and Mayne Islands are eager to fully enter the 21st century.”