While Parliament Sleeps: Tax Treaty Practice in Canada

10 J. Parl. & Political L. 15 (2016)

27 Pages Posted: 20 May 2016 Last revised: 9 Jun 2016

Date Written: May 17, 2016


Canada’s Parliament plays little but a perfunctory role in the adoption of tax treaties, even though these agreements have significant impact on Parliamentary autonomy over core national budgetary matters as well as core legal and administrative functions. This article argues that Canada’s tax treaty process reflects a studied and intentional preference against public engagement in international fiscal policy, and that this stance has a negative impact on the rule of law. The article demonstrates the governance issue posed by lack of meaningful Parliamentary oversight using a recent departure from stated treaty policy, namely, the passage of a controversial agreement to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), an aggressive and extra-territorial regulatory regime imposed on Canadian financial institutions by the United States. The article examines the implications of Canada’s approach to this and other tax-related agreements and concludes that a much more engaged and informed Parliament is vitally necessary to achieve integrity in Canada’s treaty process.

Keywords: taxation, treaties, international law, FATCA, intergovernmental agreement, rule of law, process

JEL Classification: E62, H2, K34, F02, F23, F42, H87, K33, D78

Suggested Citation

Christians, Allison, While Parliament Sleeps: Tax Treaty Practice in Canada (May 17, 2016). 10 J. Parl. & Political L. 15 (2016), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2780874 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2780874

Allison Christians (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec H3A 1W9

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