A week ago Stephen Harper pledged to go after some 1,800 Canadian foreign bank accounts in Switzerland in a crackdown on off-shore tax evasion, amounting to an estimated $1 billion in lost federal tax revenues. The Cons — tough on white collar crime.
Such passion for a deal covering what amounts to less than 1% of Canadian exports seems odd till you recall that Panama, according to the U.S. State Department, in addition to being the largest drug money laundering state in the hemisphere, hosts more than 350,000 off-shore companies with accounts hidden at over 300 of the country’s banks, where they face no taxes or legal trail at all.
Currently, $200-billion taxdollar corporate welfare bailout pig AIG is suing the U.S. government for the return of $306 million in taxes based in part on the fact one of its largest shareholder is a corporate op based in Panama.
So just how easy is it to set up a corporate tax dodge in Panama? Jessica, a 20-year old intern at Public Citizen, shows you how it’s done.
An emailed copy of your passport, a couple of hundred dollars, and voilà — 32 hours later you’re the proud owner of an off-shore company in a country where, this past June, the president passed a law to criminalize union activity and public protest.
But no worries. Canada has included yet another “kill a trade unionist, pay a fine” provision in a side agreement to this FTA which asks each country to abide by its own labour laws and to “voluntarily practice corporate responsibility.”
The Lib MPs are all very scornful of Bloc/NDP arguments against ratifying this FTA without ensuring stronger labour rights for a country which already has one of the worst wealth distribution rates in the region. “Just pass it through second reading and send it back to committee for revision,” mock the Libs.
The committee in question — International Trade — is comprised of six Cons, three Libs, two Bloc, and one NDP. All three Lib committee members have already spoken in support of the agreement in the House.
Chalk up another one for the Librocons.