We shouldn’t have to fight for our own money

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - Tom Moore St. John’s

I am writ­ing to protest the ac­tion of the Canada Rev­enue Agency (CRA), for­merly Rev­enue Canada.

Many of us, mostly New­found­lan­ders, are owed thou­sands of dol­lars in Over­seas Em­ployee Tax Credit by the gov­ern­ment of Canada for our work at the Col­lege of the North At­lantic cam­pus in Qatar. We have been de­nied our money by CRA for spu­ri­ous rea­sons, but we have been sup­ported by court de­ci­sions over the past 12 years. In spite of this, CRA has de­layed pay­ments, stalled the process and forced us to in­di­vid­u­ally hire lawyers in or­der to get our money.

One hun­dred and fifty-three of us got to­gether to face the prob­lem as a group. We hired a Hal­i­fax law firm fa­mil­iar with the is­sue and ap­plied for a court date. Af­ter years of pre­par­ing our ap­peals and wait­ing, we were granted a court date for July 13, 2016.

CRA then con­tacted our lawyer and agreed to re­view our cases with a fairer eye if we stopped our ap­peal. They promised to com­plete the re­views in three months. Fair enough. We agreed. When three months passed, CRA then promised us a de­ci­sion within 16 weeks — in other words, be­fore March 22, 2017. On March 22, they in­formed us that the de­ci­sions would be de­layed un­til April 2017. On May 30, 2017 they needed “sev­eral more weeks.” Then an­other three-month de­lay to Au­gust 2017. On Aug. 24, 2017, we were told of a new de­lay un­til Oct. 16, 2017. On Fri­day, they told our lawyer that the re­view is now de­layed in­def­i­nitely.

Be­hav­iour like this would not be ac­cepted from any other agency of pub­lic trust. No busi­ness, no pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tion would treat its clients in such a man­ner. Fair play and sim­ple ethics would de­mand a just re­ply to such a re­quest for pay­ment, as the courts have pointed out.

CRA’S of­fense is worse be­cause it is wrong­ing the very cit­i­zens whose taxes sup­port and main­tain the coun­try we all en­joy. We went over­seas and taught our lan­guage and way of life to a for­eign peo­ple. Democ­racy was new to them. Our col­lege was the first co-ed in­sti­tu­tion in their coun­try, and they of­ten asked about Canada. We told them that in our coun­try com­mon cit­i­zens choose their lead­ers, and we the tax­pay­ers are the source of all author­ity, through the bal­lot box.

CRA has shown itself to be a bully and a brig­and with un­lim­ited power to rob and harm. Many of us de­pended on that money for our re­tire­ment, or for ben­e­fits for chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. Some of our num­ber have sadly passed away over the years, with­out pay­ment from CRA. What can we do? The courts have sup­ported us, but those wheels grind very slowly. How­ever, in a free coun­try, with a free press, I also have the sat­is­fac­tion of writ­ing this let­ter; to call out a knave, as I now call out the CRA.

Shame on you, ev­ery one of you, from the fed­eral min­is­ter on down, for be­ing part of such an un­fair and du­plic­i­tous in­sti­tu­tion.

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