The amount of money involved is jaw-dropping. Enough money to wipe out all government deficits in Canada, and restore all the cuts made since 2006. Between 100 billion and 170 billion dollars escapes every year, much of it siphoned off to Canadian-made offshore tax havens.
While books have been written, and documentaries made, on tax avoidance in the U.S. and Britain, very little documentation exists about the Canadian story. Filmmaker Robin Benger founds more Canadian content than he could fit in. He documents both the birth of the Canadian Tax Fairness movement, the Canadian role in the birth and prosperity of the offshore system; he is almost shut out by powerful and secretive tax avoidance industry (banks, accounting firms; investment and pension funds) and a federal government, both past and present, which has been laggardly at best, complicit at worst.
From a recent rash of law cases, Benger extracts four multi-million dollar examples of avoidance which illustrate highly sophisticated corporate manipulations with the apparent agreement of the Canadian law courts. The film shows how 90 percent of tax law students aim to work in the lucrative private sector rather than for the tax collector, explores both the broad impact of cuts and specific tax auditing campaigns targeting critics of government policy.
On tax avoidance a former Deputy Minister of Finance and Governor of the Bank of Canada says everyone does it. The man who represents Canada’s tax industry says Canadian business specialize in global corporate tax avoidance schemes with the full knowledge and support of the federal government. And two Ministers of Finance concede that tax loopholes specialists have outmaneuvered their departments for years. Benger follows the Canadian money trial to the Caribbean to find that Canadians banks were in at the birth of the offshore bonanza and that hundreds of Canadians now make the trillion dollar business hum, and where the architect of the Cayman offshore system dismisses critics as “the Tax Taliban”. The film also introduces the Wayne Gretzky of Tax advocates, and the tireless investigative journalist who broke the story.
This documentary ends by explaining the desperate dance now underway to maintain the Canadian system behind the theater of global tax reform. We are all implicated in The Great Canadian Tax Dodge.
Director of Photography
composed by Kurt Swinghammer
Commissioning Editor, TVO
Independent Production Officer, TVO
Story Consultant/U.K. Director
J. Larry Carey
Michael Grippo, csc
Foley and Narration Recordist
Assistant Sound Editor
Brian MacLeod Rogers
Produced in association with TVO
Cogent/Benger Productions Inc.