Panama's alarm: Wake up, Canadians!

Posted 04.08.16

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The so-called Panama Papers have everyone talking about off-shore accounts and tax avoidance - again. A week earlier the same subject was in the news.

The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) was then in hot water because the Agency admitted giving soft rides to the wealthy. Tax avoidance and off-shore banking were the subjects then, too. The Panama disclosures add shell companies to that list. And the Panama disclosures identify hundreds of Canadians and Canadian companies using these devices to avoid paying their taxes in Canada.

The CRA was, however, going after the small guys with a fury hard to understand. After all, if billionaires can hide millions in income, why's the Agency chasing down Joe Blow for failing to declare a thousand bucks in tips? The answer: Joe Blow can't afford the legal teams to challenge the Agency and drag each case through the courts. Joe Blow, which is to say "you and me" is easy pickings.

Now, the details are out in the open. A Panamanian law firm that sets up shell companies has had its documents dumped by whistleblowers. A one-employee company, 20 miles from the Strip in Las Vegas, does the same, setting up accounts and shell companies - for "thousands" of North American companies and clients.

In fact the crime of tax evasion has been part of almost every federal election since the 1950s. Accusations were that even Paul Martin's family had used the system to stash millions in off-shore out of Canada's reach.

We might wonder how it is that the highest level of politicians seem to end up as millionaires, following their carriers "serving the public". We don't have to wonder why these tax evasion schemes haven't been challenged and changed - we know.

This will be another test of the new federal Liberals. Will they be able to break with their unsavoury past? Even willing? Will they try? No doubt they'll be making plenty of noise - but action? This situation is not unduly complicated, and the problem has been known for decades. Therefore we have every right to expect a quick reaction. Will we get it?

First the present loop-holes have to closed, period. These gifts to the wealthy are obscene.

The records released in Panama have to be studies seriously. There are "hundreds of Canadians" with shell companies and secret accounts. Lay off the little guy and go after these porkers!

The CRA claims it needs more resources to prosecute off-shore avoidance. Why aren't they getting these funds?

And resources have to be put into an international effort to end this crime. Treat it like money laundering, drug dealing and gun smuggling - that’s the sort of crime it is. It is taking millions (or more) out of every nation's tax system.

Canadians deserve to have this criminal underworld prosecuted. And if not, the political leaders, despite the laurels they put on their own heads, deserve to get the first boot out at the next election. Time we ourselves wake up?


Copyright © 2016 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/04.16