When lawyers, accountants, bankers and politicians get into bed the answer is yes, Canada is a criminal enterprise. Bruce Livesey explains in the National Observer, Canada's criminal establishment has been in place for nearly a century.
Livesey opens with a 2013 interview with "'Diane Francis, the well-known business columnist for The Financial Post and a long-time critic of offshore tax havens. We filmed her in a room at her swanky apartment building in downtown Toronto. And one thing Francis said on that warm muggy day still resonates with me. When asked why Canada doesn’t have the political will to put an end to the abuse of offshore tax havens, Francis replied: “Because the offshore and taxation lobby is the most powerful in this country.”
The numbers are staggering. The OECD claims that offshore banks globally hide some (US) $5-trillion to (US) $7-trillion from tax authorities, or up to 8% of the world’s assets under management. Moreover, an estimated (US) $11.5-trillion is being stashed in offshore accounts worldwide for one reason or another.
In Canada, Stats Canada documents how much corporate money flows to notorious offshore tax havens. In 1990, only $11-billion was being “invested” in offshore tax havens by Canadian corporations: today this sum is almost $200-billion a year and growing. Moreover, an estimated $8-billion is also lost annually through tax evasion, although this sum could be more than $20-billion.
In fact, after the US, Barbados is the second-largest recipient of Canadian foreign investment – with $71-billion in 2014, up from $50-billion in 2010, while the Cayman Islands is ranked fourth, receiving $36-billion. Barbados and the Caymans are high on that list for good reason – they are notorious offshore tax havens.
But therein lies the rub. As Downe has argued, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is happy to chase after small Canadian businesses or middle class individuals dodging some taxes, but the CRA doesn't have the stomach or resources to go after the really big players socking away vast sums offshore.
After all, those who have the most wealth – namely large corporations and the billionaire class – have the power, influence, connections and money to ensure they pay as little taxes as possible.
Ultimately, the offshore tax issue exposes who governments are beholden to. And they’re clearly beholden less and less to average citizens (if at all) and more to corporate interests and the billionaire class.
So if you want to know why nothing ever happens with eradicating offshore tax havens, simply look at who are the beneficiaries - and who's afraid of taking them on.
Well, we've got a new, progressive, reform-minded prime minister - or so we're told. One good thing is that, if Mr. Trudeau genuinely wants to take on "our chartered banks, biggest law and accounting and insurance firms" we've entrusted him with the powers to do just that and, if he uses those powers, we'll all know it. If, however, we don't see that robust, determined action coming from Ottawa, we'll know that this government has chosen to stay on the dark side.