Monday, April 11, 2011

Sheila Fraser: 11th hour hero

The Auditor General usurped the integrity of her own office when she refused to audit the Harper government's claims of tax leakage when she was called upon to do so by the CAITI, the Liberals, the Green Party, the Coalition of Energy Trusts and lots of average Canadians saying that it isn't the AG's role to question government policy.

Meanwhile this inaction on her part completely contradicts the role that the Auditor General defines for herself on her website that reads:

""Parliamentarians need objective and fact-based information about how well the government raises and spends funds. The Office of the Auditor General is an independent and reliable source of such information."

Except however in situations where Parliamentarians ask for the information (as the Liberal Members of the Finance Committee didm,, after my urging) and except for situations where the Auditor General is a total wimp.

What a pushover this lame AG is. An 11th hour hero.

Who was asking her to question government policy"? We just wanted her to confirm that Harper's claims of tax leakage were the bogus argument we already knew it to be. That's what an Auditor's role in life provide numbers, not excuses!

Sheila Fraser is big on excuses, short on numbers.

Sheila Fraser, the 11th hour hero/wimp.

Sheila Fraser told these Parliamentarians to get stuffed, as(evidently) she's as much a fan of blacked-out documents as Stephen Harper:

For Immediate Release February 29, 2008

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

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.”


Dr Mike said...

The poor old trust investor was hung out to dry on this one.

We were on our own right from the start.

Even the Liberal "rage" about this tax was fueled only by their desire for votes.

As we were told repeatedly , the trust investor had no constituency.

Dr Mike Popovich

Brent Fullard said...

Dr. Mike is right when he says that income trusts investors "had no constituency". But how could 2 million people in a country of 33 million not constitute a constituency?

That's because the incompetent whore politicians who are supposed to represent the interests of Canadians are deeming that 2 million Canadians do not constitute a constituency when up against the narrow interests of, say 200, fat cats who wanted the income trust model taken down, for their own nefarious reasons.

Did anyone ever argue that 200 fat cats did not constitute a constituency, like Harper did when talking about 2 million income trust investors in his (as Harper did in his National Post Op Ed of November 2005? No, that's because the fact cats and other special interest groups run this country and not average people, even when they number 2 million as a group, or the 75% of Canadian who are without pensions and had the most to lose with the loss of income trusts and had nothing to gain from the pension income splitting that was meant as an offset, but which was just another slap in the face.

Sheila Fraser is just one in a long list of Canadians in a position of authority, trust and responsibility that failed to perform their stated job description and allowed income trust investors to be screwed over by Harper on behalf of 200 fat cats.

Others on this list of shame include:

Elected representatives at the federal and provincial level who allowed the lie about tax leakage to go unchallenged and joined the witch hunt in progress, like the gang rape that it was.

The Govenor of the Bank of Canada (David Dodge) who flip flopped on his views on trusts and failed to speak truth to power, preferring to speaks lies to the Canadian public instead.

Officials in the Department of Finance like Mark Carney who created the fictitious argument about tax leakage to hide the real malintent behind the policy and arm themselves with a more emotive (albeit totally false) argument to reverse Harper's 2006 election promise on trusts.

The Parliammentary Budget Officer who failed to investigate the loss of billions in annual taxes from the trust policy when he was asked to do so.

The heads of the various securities commissions in this country like the OSC who are supposed to be upholding the integrity of the capital markets and not allow massive lies to cause investors to lose billions in their savings. Ditto the stock exchanges like the TSX.

Canada's five major chartered banks who made billion in underwriting fees and trading commissions from income trusts but did virtually nothing to defend their millions of investing clients who lost $35 billion as result of the government's lie about tax leakage.

The income trust issue shows just how poorly Canada performs as a country an just how weak the checks and balances are in defending the average Canadians against an attack from the power brokers when they want something done to deny others the opportunity to advance in society and get a tiny sliver of the country for their own, as income trusts provided Canadians the opportunity to do so, unlike any other type of publicly traded investment.

As for Sheila Fraser, her conduct on this file was a disgrace, Too bad we didn't have someone with the integrity and back bone of a Linda Keen working as the Auditor General or in any one of the other myriad of organizations that failed income trusts investors, such that 2 million Canadians were (incredibly) deemed not to constitute a constituency!

Stan said...

Hi All,
On the Income Trust issue,it would be very interesting to see the stock trading done by Rona Ambrose's husband prior to the Government announcement. Mr. Ambrose is a Financial Advisor and provides services in this area.