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Rathgeber questions protection of Canadian accounts

Question Period query precedes announcement of U.S.-Canada agreement

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Saturday, Feb 08, 2014 06:00 am

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St. Albert’s member of Parliament got a bit of a surprise when he rose in the House of Commons during Wednesday’s question period.

Brent Rathgeber, the independent MP who represents the Edmonton-St. Albert riding, asked what the government is doing to protect Canadians who are dual U.S. citizens and their assets as the U.S. moves to implement its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA).

Kevin Sorenson, the minister of state for Finance, responded by announcing an agreement with the U.S. that will exempt certain Canadian assets like tax-free savings accounts from U.S. attempts to collect tax on those holdings.

“He provided an answer to a question which is sometimes a rarity in question period,” Rathgeber said.

Rathgeber said he didn’t know about the agreement before asking his question, but knows it looked like he’d set up Sorenson for the announcement.

“It almost looked like a planted puffball question like I used to ask when I was in caucus,” Rathgeber said.

He said it appears as though Sorenson received notification of the agreement just awhile before Rathgeber’s question.

On the surface, Rathgeber is “cautiously optimistic” that concerns he’d heard from his constituents about FACTA have been addressed, but will know more once the agreement is tabled.

It was Rathgeber’s second question of the week, double what he usually gets. He’d traded a question from last week as he was going to miss a session due to travel.

So on Monday, Rathegeber asked the minister of Transport to explain what remedial actions have been taken, as well as any extra training for Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) agents, after the revelations about the teenager who went through security at Edmonton International Airport with a homemade explosive, which the agents tried to return to him after drug testing the device.

Minister Lisa Raitt said CATSA was asked to review its procedures and processes.

“I was not particularly satisfied with the answer,” Rathgeber said.

He said the important issue is what kind of security is at the airports and what kind of training the agents get.

He asked the question because the issue garnered a lot of attention in mid-January, including communication from his constituents.


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