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.
Meanwhile back in the House, Lib and Con MPs are taking turns congratulating each other for their mutual enthusiastic support for the speedy implementation of the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement.
Such passion for a deal covering what amounts to less than 1% of Canadian exports seems odd till you recall that according to the U.S. State Department, in addition to being the largest drug money laundering state in the hemisphere, Panama has more than 350,000 off-shore companies with accounts hidden at over 300 Panamanian 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 $306 million in back taxes based in part on the fact one of its corporate ops based in Panama is AIG's largest shareholder.
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 now the proud owner of an off-shore company in a country where the president just passed a law to criminalize union activity and public protest this past June.
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".
Last week Export Development Canada opened an office in Panama City.
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 6 Cons, 3 Libs, 2 Bloc, and 1 NDP. All three Lib committee members have already spoken in support of the agreement in the House.
Chalk up another one for the Librocons.
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