Big explosive revelations yesterday as the Paradise Papers were released – a major document dump on more offshore tax havens and those who use it. Canadian connections include the head of fundraising for the Liberal Party, Stephen Bronfman, whose family trust holds assets there, the family of a former senator, while three former prime ministers – Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin have tangential connections to accounts there, as does the Queen. And while headlines may describe Bronfman as a “close advisor,” the party is disputing that label.
Following Paradise Papers story, Liberal Party describes fundraiser Stephen Bronfman as "a volunteer." pic.twitter.com/YGp8EiJRFa
— Glen McGregor (@glen_mcgregor) November 6, 2017
The bigger concern seems to be that Bronfman’s long-time law firm lobbied successive governments against going after more offshore tax havens. (Funnily enough, it was the Conservatives who cut funding for CRA to do this kind of investigative work, while the Liberals reinvested in it). The question for the CRA in all of these revelations is whether these funds were managed in Canada – which would break the rules – or whether they were managed from their offshore locations. CRA, incidentally, says it won’t hesitate to investigate these new revelations, which is consistent with the messages we’ve been hearing from them since they got more money for this kind of work.
— CanadaRevenueAgency (@CanRevAgency) November 5, 2017
As for the Queen’s indirect involvement in this, investments made by her Duchy of Lancaster holdings have an indirect stake in a rent-to-own company accused of exploiting the poor by way of these offshore funds.
And now the political reaction. While the NDP will piously shout a chorus of “we told you that you should be going after offshore tax havens!” the Conservatives have already put out press releases describing this as having to do with cozy friends of the Liberals and that this is somehow hypocritical of their fighting for the middle class – never mind that I didn’t think that Mulroney was a Liberal, or the fact that most of these connections are fairly tangential and that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing. But hey, this is about “Liberal aristocracy” and not the “little guy” that they now profess to fight for. (Remember the days when the Conservatives were the party of Bay Street? Me neither).
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) November 5, 2017
The old families. The old money. The old aristocracy. pic.twitter.com/Uyse4tTJBX
— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) November 6, 2017
And Question Period today? I can pretty much guarantee you that after Andrew Scheer makes his dig about Trudeau not standing up for people of faith after the Governor General’s speech the other night (and four days later, the pundits still haven’t gotten up off of their fainting couches from it), it will be endless rounds of questions about these “Liberal insiders” hiding money offshore, tying Bill Morneau to this by way of the Morneau Sheppel/Barbados conspiracy theory, and Diane Lebouthillier will be up constantly to say that this government is going after tax evaders where the previous government cut funding, and that “the net is closing.”
…all while lecturing Canadians about values ALL THE FREAKING TIME.
— Paul Wells (@InklessPW) November 5, 2017
- The gong show known as Shared Services Canada is responsible for multiple CBSA computer crashes, creating problems with trucks at the border.
- Patty Hajdu says there’s room for more legislation around workplace harassment and sexual violence, but expects there may be resistance.
- Ahmed Hussen rejects the Trumpian notion that increased immigration is a security concern, and says Canada is a world leader in proving otherwise.
- LGBT refugee groups say that government funding uncertainty could hamper efforts to resettle more of those in need.
- The Canadian Transportation Agency has rejected VIA Rail’s attempt to skirt the rules around having more wheelchair tie-down spaces on trains.
- Here is the tale of a North Korean defector currently working as an intern in a senator’s office.
Odds and ends:
There are a lot of questions about that rink they’re building on Parliament Hill, especially around security, access to the public, and why it’s only up for three weeks.
The by-elections for the four remaining vacant ridings has been declared for December 11th.