End Party Tyranny: Canada #FATCA IGA demonstrates the need for @Independents to become candidates

Political power corrupts, and absolute political power corrupts absolutely!

First, if you have never heard of FATCA …

To put it simply: FATCA is a U.S. law that stands for “Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act“. According to this U.S. law, the United States will confiscate 30% of all U.S. dollar payments going to a non-U.S. bank, unless:

1. The bank agrees to hunt for people who the USA defines as a U.S. citizen (the U.S. can change the definition any time it wants);

2. The bank agrees to turn over all the bank account information of anybody who the U.S. decides is a U.S. citizen (note that this includes about one million Canadian citizens who had the bad fortune to have been born in the United States);

3. The purpose is to to force these unfortunate souls into the U.S. tax system; which

4. Will allow the U.S. to extract Canadian capital (under the guise of citizenship-taxation) from Canada to the United States.

In order to protect the Canadian banks from the threats of the 30% penalty, the Harper Government agreed to change Canada’s law to allow Canadian banks to “perform this service” for the United States. The Harper Agreement is also known in the profession as the “Canada U.S. FATCA IGA” and was signed on February 4, 2014.

But, this is just to provide context to this post. Those who want to learn more should visit the site of the “Alliance For The Defence of Canadian Sovereignty” which has brought a lawsuit against the Government of Canada to prevent this outreageous transfer of Canadian sovereignty to the U.S. Treasury.

For those who think I am making this up, here is a copy of the Canada U.S. FATCA IGA:


For those who wish to learn more, I suggest that you visit the Isaac Brock Society.

With that as background, I now turn to the question of what this has to do with independent candidates, political parties, and the role of the opposition …

About the role of political parties in a Westminster democracy …

The March 22, 2016 iPolitica.ca article by Elizabeth Thompson includes the response of Mr. Brison, now that he is a Liberal cabinet minister in a majority government and no longer the “critic” of a party that was lost in the political wilderness. It is an interesting example of how individual MPs and parties can be more effective in opposition AND the important role played by opposition parties!

Leaving aside the FATCA issue, Mr. Brison’s response speaks volumes about the reality and role of political parties in a Westminster democracy (particularly when the party has a majority government). The manner that the FATCA IGA issue has been handled, is a case study on the weaknesses of the “first past the post system” of determining election results.

To put it simply, the Party “rules” by the Party “rules” (pun intended).

Individual MPs have become completely irrelevant.

As Jean Chretien in “Straight From The Heart” wrote:

“More and more, however, perhaps because of the nature of the media and Canada’s proximity to the American presidential system, elections are fought among party leaders. In a sweep such as the Tory victory in 1984, good members are swept out with the same broom as bad ones, while bad ones are carried on the coattails of the victorious party. So the work, personality, and intelligence of MPs counts less and less in the riding campaigns. In my judgment no more than 50 MPs make a personal difference in the outcome of their elections. The rest tend to rely on the appeal of their leader and the luck of belonging to the winning party. The risk is that MPs will become ore marginal, more expendable, and at the mercyof the leadership. Certainly fewer back-benchers will be prepared to give their leaders frank advice or tell them to go to hell if they know they can be replaced.”

(This has nothing to do with proximity to America.)

As Stephen Harper said in 1998:

“Most MPs are bit players in today’s parliamentary system, with the average backbencher merely acting as an ombudsman for constituents on non-partisan issues and as a local sales representative for his/her political party on the big issues”.

The same could be said of Cabinet Ministers.( I suspect that the late Jim Flaherty was more committed to defeating FATCA than his Conservative party was.)

Ultimately, in spite of his desire to “do the right thing” (if the experience of Garth Turner is any indication), Flaherty was probably required to “toe the party line” (and toe the “bank line”). Like Mr. Flaherty before him, Scott Brison is probably not able to do anything but repeat the party line. There are few MPs who are willing to stand up for “principle over party”. Brett Rathgeber – who left the Conservative Party – is one of the few exceptions. Michael Chong has introduced legislation designed to make the individual MP relevant.

Yes: The job of cabinet ministers and back bencher MPs is to toe the party line.

As a great statesman once said:

“Some will sacrifice principle for party and some party for principle – Winston Churchill”

Were Winston Churchill to observe Scott Brison, he might say that:

Mr. Brison is obviously sacrificing principle for party.

Those were the days: “When Mr. Brison was in opposition”

If you want to see what Mr. Brison said – on May 13 and 14, 2014 when he was in opposition and was playing the role of “being the opposition”, visit the “Alliance For Defence of Canadian Sovereignty” site and look for the “In Parliament” tab.

I will save you the trouble. Observe Mr. Brison when it was his job to criticize government policy:


Those interested in learning more about FATCA, the FATCA IGA and the attempts of the “Alliance For The Defence Of Canadian Sovereignty” to oppose FATCA in Canada, see the book of FATCA Posts.

To be clear this is NOT exclusively a “privacy issue”. It’s an issue of whether the Canadian Government should allow the United States to impose direct taxation on Canada.

See the comment at the Isaac Brock Society referenced in the following tweet:

Some historical background on how the FATCA IGA came to be …

1. The banks said: Let there be a FATCA IGA.

2. The Government gave the banks the FATCA IGA.

And the banks saw that it was good …