Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Elections Canada is serious in a way the Auditor General is not

Recently the four Liberal members of the Finance Committee wrote to Canada’s Auditor General and asked her to determine whether the foundation of the income trust tax, namely the unproven assertion that income trusts cause tax leakage, is true or false.

Evidently these elected members of Parliament took the Auditor General at her word and the mantra posted on her website that “Parliamentarians need objective fact based information on how well the government raises its funds (taxes).”

Sheila Fraser has proven herself to be derelict in her duty to Canadians and to Parliamentarians when she refused to perform this audit of alleged tax leakage. So which Parliamentarians is she referring to in her statement above if not the four Liberal members of the Finance Committee? Perhaps it's time for Stephane Dion to write a follow-up letter to Sheila Fraser and rattle her chain and demand that she perform her role.

Perhaps Sheila Fraser has become politicized in her role as Canada’s Auditor General. Meanwhile other groups joined in the Liberals call to the Auditor General to perform her role, like the Coalition of Energy Trusts, who represent 20% of Canada’s oil patch and the Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors, who represent the interests of the 2.5 million investors who lost $35 billion. Separately the Green Party had called for a public inquiry into alleged tax leakage.

And what does Sheila Fraser do? Nothing. Nada. Squat. SFA: Sweet Fraser All.

Perhaps she needs to take a lesson from Election Commissioner William Corbett and conduct a raid of the Finance Department and get the numbers behind the 18 pages of blacked out documents as proof of alleged tax leakage. Is Sheila Fraser not just a little bit curious that these 18 pages provided under the Access to Information Act were demanded too be returned by the Finance Minister?

RCMP raids Tory office for election file

Globe and Mail
April 16, 2008


Anonymous said...

This was a red hot political potato for Sheila Fraser she did the dishonourable thing!

Her job is safe. She won't be fired by Harper as he will get the NDP's support.

CAITI said...


You're absolutely right. Sheila Fraser's utter inaction is simply the chill of Linda Keen’s firing.

BTW: If Sheila Fraser claims that "parliamentarians need objective fact based information", when does she claim that the best time to have thsi information is:

(1) Before the fact?
(2) During the fact?
(3) After the fact?
(4) Never?

Brent Fullard

Dr Mike said...

If Stephane Dion is serious about getting to the bottom of this & showing Canadians that the trust tax was ill-advised in the first place , then it must be up to him to push the Auditor General to act.

It is his duty to do what our Conservative MPs refuse to do--ie , protect us from the ham-handed antics of this government -- the same government who does not think enough of us to even show us their calculations.

Makes me wonder why she is not even curious.

If she has a fear that her job may become a pile of nuclear vapor like that of Linda Keen , then she is in the wrong profession.

It is her duty to protect us .

Dr Mike.

Anonymous said...

She is a CON

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this correspondence with the Auditor General. Her reasoning is totally bogus. Who is asking the AG to comment on policy? That would be absurd for anyone to do so. The income trust policy was however based on a factual premise that has yet to be proven, namely the assertion that income trusts cause tax leakage.

Where is the proof. How can any policy be valid if there is no proof. Meanwhile where is the following standard of the AG being adhered to and followed:

"Parliamentarians need objective fact based information'

Who better to audit the pretense of tax leakage than the Auditor General?

How much money do Canadian investors and Canadian taxpayers have to lose before the AG deems it appropriate to act? Is $35 billion loss in hard earned savings not enough? Is the loss of $1.4 billion in ANNUAL taxes to all Canadian taxpayers due to foreign takeovers of income trusts to date not enough? Is the reverse outcome of the policy's ostensible purpose not worthy of investigation by the AG? Good grief.

This is a most unimpressive response from Suzanne Godbout Senior Communications Advisor to the Auditor General. Tell her that her response is both completely unacceptable and wholly indefensible.

What does Sheila Fraser have to say for herself, since it was her, to whom you sent your letter, not Suzanne Godbout, gatekeeper.

Brent Fullard
President and CEO
Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors

647 505-2224 (cell)

On 4/16/08 11:21 AM, "Rick Drysdale" wrote:

> Hi Brent
> Here is a copy of an email I sent to the Auditor General Sheila Fraser and
> her reply.
> I am going to ask her for an opinion on the reports mentioned at the end of
> the reply just to see if I can get anything from the department.
> Rick Drysdale
> ----- Original Message -----

> Sent: Monday, April 14, 2008 12:26 PM
> Subject: RE: Income Trusts
> Dear Mr. Drysdale,
> Thank you for your email of 9 April 2008 regarding income trusts.
> While we appreciate your concerns, the Auditor General has decided not to
> investigate this issue.
> Matters of policy are decided by the elected representatives who make up our
> federal government. A decision of the government to tax income trusts is a
> fundamental policy decision upon which we would not comment.
> Furthermore, we must respect the classification of government information in
> reporting our audits. I understand that much of the information that we
> would need to investigate this issue was classified as advice provided to
> the Minister. We cannot and would not report information that the government
> itself has classified at a level that prevents its public disclosure.
> As you are likely aware, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance
> presented a report on its study of income trusts to the House on
> 28 February 2007 and the government responded on 18 July 2007. Both the
> report and the response can be found on the House of Commons website.
> Thank you for taking the time to write to us.
> Sincerely,
> Suzanne Godbout
> Senior Communications Advisor, Public Inquiries | Conseillère principale en
> communications, Demandes du public Office of the Auditor General of Canada |
> Telephone | Téléphone
> 613-952-0213 (6560)
> From: Rick Drysdale Sent: 09/04/2008 3:35:23 PM
> THis quote is from the first page of this web site and , I belive is part of
> your mission statement.
> "The Office of the Auditor General of Canada is an independent and reliable
> source of the objective, fact-based information that Parliament needs to
> fulfill one of its most important roles: holding the federal government
> accountable for its stewardship of public funds. The Office audits
> departments and agencies, most Crown corporations, and many other federal
> organizations; it is also the auditor for the governments of Nunavut, the
> Yukon, and the Northwest Territories"
> I understand your office had been asked to have an enquiry into the decision
> by the federal government to tax income trusts.
> The decision to tax them has been questioned by many people, businesses and
> organizations on numerous grounds.
> The government refuses to release information which they say lead to this
> decision. It has been said there is no reason for the taxation hence they
> have nothing to release.
> The taxpayers of Canada have no recourse that I am aware of that would
> compel them to justify their decision.
> I may be mistaken but in a democratic society like ours when a reasonable
> request is made for information there is no reason it should be denied.
> Maybe you can explain to me why this request has been refused.
> Thank you
> Richard Drysdale

Anonymous said...

"Matters of policy are decided by the elected representatives who make up our federal government. A decision of the government to tax income trusts is a fundamental policy decision upon which we would not comment"

They weren't asked to comment about the policy, they were asked to comment on the tax leakage figures!! This is blatant stonewalling.

Do the conservatives think that they can keep this classified forever? Not even tricky Dick Nixon could do that.

Liberal Finance Committee Members call on Auditor General to Examine Government’s Claims of Income Trust Tax Leakage

February 29, 2008

OTTAWA – Liberal Members of the Standing Committee on Finance today called on the Auditor General to investigate the tax leakage claims that the government used as the basis for its October 31, 2006, decision to tax income trusts.
“I think that this government’s stonewalling has gone on long enough and it’s time that Canadians got to see that the Government simply made up its story that income trusts cause federal tax leakage,” said Liberal Finance Critic John McCallum.
“Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to Canadians that he would never tax income trusts. Then he went back on his word, costing Canadians billions overnight and in the wake of his silence on the issue we feel that only the Auditor General can shine some light into this matter.”
All four Liberal Members of the Finance Committee signed a letter to Auditor General Sheila Fraser asking her to investigate the matter, particularly the government’s unproven allegations about income trusts causing tax leakage.
“This has clearly become much more than just another instance of the government not doing its homework before acting. It has become a full-blown scandal and cover-up,” said John McKay, Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Guildwood. “We have tried virtually every tool at our disposal to get the government to show us how they came to their conclusions about tax leakage and the Auditor General may be Canadians’ last resort.”
An Access to Information request asking for the Department of Finance’s assumptions, data and methodology resulted in the release of only 23 pages of documents that are almost entirely blacked out.
A direct request from the Finance Committee to see the data was met with two thick binders of superfluous information that did not contain the data or methodology originally requested.
A written question was placed on the Order Paper asking the government to recalculate its estimate of tax leakage using the 15 per cent federal corporate tax rate that will actually be in effect in 2012, the year after the income trust tax begins, as opposed to the 21 per cent tax rate that was in effect at the time of the announcement. The government’s response to the question indicated that that this would be a hypothetical calculation and therefore impossible to do.
“That’s not a hypothetical, that’s what the federal tax rate will be,” said Garth Turner, Member of Parliament for Halton. “If the government can’t manage to run the new 2012 corporate tax rate through their calculators then I have no reason to believe they ran the old one through their calculators in October of 2006.”
In 2006, Stephen Harper ran on a campaign commitment to never tax income trusts. The Conservative election platform characterized any attempt to impose such a tax as, “An attack on retirement savings.”
“That election commitment was obviously a falsehood. Unfortunately the voters who believed it and invested even more money in income trusts lost a significant portion of their nest eggs,” said Massimo Pacetti, Member of Parliament for MP for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.
“Even today, 15 months after they broke their election promise, Members of Parliament still hear from the thousands of Canadians whose retirement plans were shattered by this deception. Liberal Members of Parliament continue to stand up for them.”

Robert Gibbs said...

Conservative Spin & Denial Machine Re: RCMP Raid

Globe & Mail
April 16, 2008

Federal Tories moved to batten down the hatches yesterday on information involving the raid - er, visit - of the RCMP on the offices of the federal Conservative Party. Party spinners and caucus members were offered the following counsel in an e-mail from party officials about what to say.

"Advice to Caucus:

Today, Elections Canada "visited" the Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa. If asked about this issue by media, we strongly recommend you say the following:

I'm not aware of this issue.

I can't help you with your story."

Here's a smattering of the responses from Tory MPs who were asked yesterday to comment on the matter.

Brian Fitzpatrick (Prince Albert, Sask.): "I don't have any information of what that's about."

John Cummins (Delta-Richmond East, B.C.): "I don't know anything about it."

Leon Benoit (Vegreville-Wainwright, Alta.): "You'll have to ask somebody that knows."

Joe Preston (Elgin-Middlesex-London, Ont.): "I don't know anything else about it."

Luc Harvey (Louis-Hébert, Que.): "It wasn't a raid. There is no warrant. It was a visit."

Pierre Lemieux (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Ont.): "You heard the answers in Question Period."

Robert Gibbs said...

Now Poo Poo Pierre Poilievre is trying to frame the CONS' election spending "irregularities" as a matter of free speech!

Is there no depths to which these CON buffoons will sink?

Any other thoughts on this outrageous spin?

Anonymous said...

Robert Gibbs asked:

"Now Poo Poo Pierre Poilievre is trying to frame the CONS' election spending "irregularities" as a matter of free speech!

Any other thoughts on this outrageous spin?"

Yeah, if the CONs are such fans of free speech, then they should simply release the contents of the warrant, and the basis on which it was granted. That way, they could also be open and accountable?

Randy Meyer said...

"We cannot and would not report information that the government itself has classified at a level that prevents its public disclosure."

Is this chick for real? Let me see.

We will not report on any improper doing of the government because well ... they chose to hide it from the public and because they chose to hide it from the public we can't do anything about it.

Great so what do we need you for? What's the great public secret here? It's not like anyone's asking to reveal the exact location of Canada's Special Forces in Afghanistan or something.

The public has suffered and continues to suffer a great loss based on the calculations of the CONservatives. Obviously, the Auditor General's responsibility is not with the the development of policy but they sure are the judge of whether or not the policy is achieving the desired outcome.

This policy is causing massive tax losses to the Canadian people. Isn't that something that the Auditor General should flag to Parliament?

Otherwise, what are they there for?

Dr Mike said...

Good one!!!!

She has lost all credibility with me---she should be there to audit whatever the opposition or any group requests if there is any question as to the accounting practices that were used by the gov`t to formulate their policy--we don`t need any comment on the actual policy , only the accounting involved.

If the job is too tough for her , then let`s fire her & maybe hire on Linda Keen--now that is one woman who commands my respect.


Anonymous said...

April 17, 2008: Sheila Fraser was gung ho to destroy th3e Liberals durirng the Sponsorship Scandal. I requested that she look into the matter of income trusts and the blatant lies Flaherty concocted. Obviously, she is either a staunch Conserverative or is fearful of losing her job. She is a great disappointment to me as I admired and now I think she is simply a coward.