Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to set the context before I move the first of several amendments to part 5 of the budget implementation act pertaining to the implementation of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, as it's more popularly known.
I'd like the members across to carefully consider the serious issues that have been raised at this committee concerning the implementation of this deeply flawed agreement. I hope they'll carefully consider and support our NDP amendments that address some of the serious problems that have arisen.
It has become increasingly clear through departmental and witness appearances at this committee that the Conservative government simply has failed to adequately study the implications of FATCA and the implementation agreement with respect to privacy, constitutionality, and cost.
Rushing it through in an omnibus bill without proper study is not only reckless, but it's also entirely unnecessary. The U.S. has recently delayed the application of FATCA sanctions until January 2015. Canada is already deemed in compliance with the U.S. law, and legal experts have testified to this committee that there's ample time, therefore, to properly study and amend this agreement.
More than one million Canadians could be negatively affected by this deeply flawed agreement. So, we're simply asking, yet again, that the Conservatives slow it down and remove FATCA from this budget bill, so it can be properly scrutinized and amended, and so we can ensure that Canadians' privacy and constitutional rights are protected. Surely that's of concern to every member of this committee. It's more important, we say, to fix this and protect those many Canadians who are going to be affected than it is to ram this through in an omnibus budget bill, in which this agreement has no place being in the first place.
The first amendment, Mr. Chair, is NDP-6, which simply would say, in clause 99, that it be amended by adding after line 11 on page 73, the following:
“(2) Despite any other provision of this Act or the Agreement, for all purposes related to the implementation of this Act and the Agreement, “U.S. Person” and “Specified U.S. Person” does not include any person who is (a) a Canadian citizen within the meaning of the Citizenship Act or a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; and (b) ordinarily resident in Canada.”
This amendment is intended to address one of the most central issues pertaining to FATCA and perhaps its greatest flaw, that this will impact Canadian citizens who are deemed to be U.S. persons and targeted by this agreement, but who are in every other way our fellow Canadian citizens and permanent residents of this country.
I'd like to thank Lynne Swanson, who appeared before this committee, Dr. Stephen Kish, and so many others for their dedicated work to advocate for those who will be undeservedly caught in the FATCA net. Many experts have analyzed the agreement, and it was really negotiated with the protection of banks in mind, they have told us, not the people who will be affected.
I ask the members opposite to carefully consider and support this amendment which, if passed, would protect our fellow Canadian citizens who, for all practical purposes, should not be affected by this agreement, and who should have the same rights as every other citizen. We should not create a second class of Canadians with a second set of rights just because American law deems them to be U.S. persons. Even those born in Canada can be caught in the FATCA net.
Finally, this would help the government avoid an inevitable charter challenge, which I hope they would be interested in avoiding.
That is the purpose and intent of NDP-6, Mr. Chair.