Harper signed trade deal with Panama encouraging tax evasion

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed a trade deal with Panama in 2010, which encourages tax evasion by Canadian companies, according to experts.

Todd Tucker, research director at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, warned Parliamentarians that the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement could have a detrimental impact on government’s ability to protect the integrity of Canada’s taxation regime.

“The pact would give new rights to the government of Panama and the hundreds of thousands of offshore corporations to challenge Canadian anti-tax haven measures outside of the Canadian judicial system,” Tucker told the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade.

“The Canada-Panama trade deal would worsen the tax haven problem,” he added. “As the OECD has noted, having a trade agreement without first tackling Panama’s financial secrecy practices could incentivize even more offshore tax dodging.”

The NDP also criticized the pact for the same reasons.

“The agreement is bad news not just for labour, but for every Canadian because Panama is an offshore tax haven for companies that want to evade their Canadian tax obligations,” Chris Charlton, the then-NDP MP for Hamilton Mountain, ON, told the House of Commons. “A free trade agreement between Canada and Panama would be a bonanza for big business while leaving individual Canadian taxpayers with an ever-increasing burden for picking up the costs of federal government programs.”

“The amount of money invested in tax havens in the world globally at the moment is at an all-time high,” Don Davies, NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway, BC, said. “In 2011, almost 25% of Canada’s investment was invested in the world’s top 12 tax havens.”

“According to a Tax Justice Network report from 2011, Canada loses an estimated $80 billion per year to all forms of tax evasion,” he added. “The government does not have a system for estimating and publishing the amount of lost revenues due to offshore non-compliance.”

“We are dealing with a noted tax haven, one of the most notorious drug laundering centres in the world,” he added. “The U.S. Congress said it would not be safe or prudent to sign a free trade agreement with such a country until it first had a tax exchange information agreement in place. However, in this House, the government is asking parliamentarians to go ahead and give a most favourable nation status free trade agreement that would allow money and investment to flow with very little barrier between our two countries, when we do not have a tax exchange information agreement in place, but one might happen in the future. That is imprudent. That is irresponsible.”

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists started releasing Sunday the so called “Panama Papers”, comprising 11.5 million leaked confidential documents created by the Panamanian offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca providing detailed information on more than 214,000 offshore companies, and the identities of shareholders and directors, and revealing the scale of tax evasion carried out by international politicians, business leaders and celebrities.

The 2.6-terabyte dump contains details of 783 Canadians and 347 Canadian corporations, including the Royal Bank of Canada.

Concluded on August 11, 2009 by Harper and the then-Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and signed on May 14, 2010, the pact came into force on April 1, 2013.

[Photo Credit: FAO]

42 Responses to Harper signed trade deal with Panama encouraging tax evasion

  1. Richard says:

    Do you know where I can get a list of all Canadians involved?

  2. John says:

    Sieze all Harpers assets, cut his pension and imprison him, this man is a traitor and we need to take a page out of Iceland’s book.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t forget to flog the bastard as well.

    • Bruce Miller says:

      Wait for the whole story! When all is exposed, Harper will join Dean delMaestro in som latin country selling fake bonds to the natives there?

    • Azhole McArsehole says:

      Harper crimes will be Quietly removed from our consciousness when PMJT gets around to taking out Harper’s trash.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s for sure

    • Anonymous says:

      Please tell me you are not that stupid this article is so one sided it stinks
      Next to that Harper did not take a pension and he is not rich
      He lives in a modest house in a average subdivision in Calgary

      Not like our current Prime Minister with his million dollar car Mansion and Nannies

      • Anonymous says:

        youre a weiner

      • Anonymous says:

        the only smart comment on this srticle

      • Anonymous says:

        He deserves shit!

      • Anonymous says:

        You are an idiot. Justin Trudeau lives in the house that Harper lived in while he was in office….he drives the car he inherited from his father……(would you not take the car? would you not drive it because it is too expensive?), and the ‘nannies’ are staff appointed to him under his contract as PM. Harper had equal amount of workers appointed to him, they just didn’t work as nannies since his children are older. And Stephen Harper will receive a Pension for the rest of his life from the taxpayers.

        “Taking that into account and his total pension, which tops off at an estimated $168,208 annually from age 67 onwards, Canadian taxpayers will have given Harper nearly $9.8 million throughout his lifespan in direct income: $9,798.243.86. For estimation purposes”

        Once again……you are an idiot…..but I’m not surprised. You are a Conservative. You don’t believe in facts.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed

    • Anonymous says:

      Make sure Martin and Cretien are jailed too then ,

  3. Edwin M. Hopkins says:

    Another of the ISDS containing so-called free trade deals with which our previous government saddled us.

  4. Julie Biddle says:

    The penalty for tax evasion should be loss of citizenship. You have already proved that you’re not committed to Canada by virtue of shirking your responsibilities as a citizen. If you love your money so much, go and live with it.

    We should seize Canadian assets to cover taxes owing and deport.

  5. Sylvia J. Wilson says:

    Charge Harper, strip him of his citizenship and sent him back from where he came from. Under a rock.

    • Tyrone Avenue says:

      We allowed Harper free reign. The irony is Harper used procedural democracy(elxns)to win but wants to disenfranchise many on his base.

      • Tory Hack says:

        Purpose of “Trade Pacts:”prevent governments from providing for the common good. Eliminating Long Form Census left Statistically dead Canadians.

  6. Bruce Miller says:

    BEWARE THE TPP ! This was also Harper’s baby!

  7. Alfredo Louro says:

    FTA: “The U.S. Congress said it would not be safe or prudent to sign a free trade agreement with such a country until it first had a tax exchange information agreement in place.”

    In fact, the US signed a free trade agreement with Panama in 2011. It was explicitly supported by President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. (http://www.ibtimes.com/panama-papers-obama-clinton-pushed-trade-deal-amid-warnings-it-would-make-money-2348076)

    • wonderful world says:

      the us government is owned by the corporations, so Obama had no choice. Harper was probably in the same boat and now laughing all the way to the bank. lol

  8. Ranen Ghosh says:

    The article says that the NDP opposed the deal, but what about the Liberal party?

    • Dave McCormick says:

      Well, young Justin was reported today as being supportive of the TPP, so I guess we know where they stand. The Liberals, in general, support “free trade” agreements. It doesn’t seem to matter how bad they are.

    • Justin Thyme says:

      Trudeau has never explicitly said he was in favor of the TPP. He has said repeatedly that he is for international trade, not necessarily free trade agreements.

      He is in favor of ‘FAIR trade agreements’, not ‘FREE trade agreements’.

      Free trade agreements give corporations free reign over trade.

  9. James says:

    The article said the need to sign a tax exchange information agreement which was signed in March 2013.

    http://www.fin.gc.ca/treaties-conventions/notices/panama-entry-eng.asp

    It’s always easy to put blame after the fact in hindsight. This article is so bias it hurts.

    • Anonymous says:

      Signed, but did not come into force before the FTA came into force.

    • Justin Thyme says:

      This article is so truthful it hurts.

    • Justin Thyme says:

      A lot of good THAT agreement had. I believe the operable words should be ‘EFFECTIVE tax exchange agreement’. You know, one with teeth, and one that is not usurped by the provisions in the free trade agreement.

      Harper’s tax exchange agreement was a token agreement, just to quiet the critics.

  10. Jason says:

    Treason is treason its not rocket science . Harper and his cronies need to face a firing squad.

  11. Lucifer O'Leary says:

    Unconscious we allowed Harper and His predecessors to Hollow out Canada for Corporations and wealthy. We are to blame

  12. Tin Taylor says:

    Dated April 1st 2013

  13. Jody Berland says:

    Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but PMJT has not changed or indicated he is interested in changing any trade deals signed under Harper, of which the TPP is the worst.

  14. James Kennedy says:

    I think all Canadians are ill informed, why just blame Harper for a biased article, every leader and Politician among other business people in Canada has had offshore companies whether they are based in Panama or the Bahamas, Belize, Caymans, British Virgin Islands, or Switzerland no one realizes all high ranking Canadians of any Liberal, NDP or PC are involved, and this is a world wide dilemma.

  15. Justin Thyme says:

    If you look very, very closely, you can see the words ‘I’m a sucker’ across Harper’s forehead. Seems that there were a lot of countries and trade negotiators that saw the same thing. Especially the TPP negotiators.

  16. Frances Stang says:

    Obama signed the same trade deal. And how is Harper responsible for people who have no morals and want to evade taxes? Heck, our current prime minister has no morals and many young, gullible people with similar morals think he is just great. A very one-sided article.

  17. Sam says:

    Well, its a fine informative article on the tax evasion. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Hottest subject of 2016 was surely was tax evasion or in simple words the Panama scandal.

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