Since 1996, Winnipegs George Harris has been in court, trying to force the government to collect an estimated $750 million in taxes owed by a wealthy Canadian family that transferred trust assets to the US tax-free.
In late March the Appeal Court ruled on Harriss challenge saying the government must answer in Federal Court for the suspicious tax ruling that they made almost a decade ago.
We expect that when the law is there, it will apply to all of us as citizens and not be applied selectively, said Harris, treasurer for CUPE 2348, who works as an employment and education coordinator for the AIDS Shelter Coalition.
The court ruled the confidentiality provision of the Tax Act didnt stop the federal government from releasing the wealthy familys name to the lawyers only, so they can prepare for a three-week trial expected to begin in September.
I would hope that the Canadian public all of us would become very clear on exactly what happened, said Harris, who with the support of social justice coalition CHO!CES, has created Project Loophole to keep Canadians informed about the cases progress.
He believes the court is going to find that the government was wrong in allowing the tax-free transfer, an error that could mean millions of dollars in taxes would now have to be collected. The link between unpaid taxes and dwindling public sector resources is a strong one, Harris said.
The cutbacks have a major role to play in many of the problems we face in terms of workload and staffing, and when we see that revenue is not collected that should be collected, this is directly relevant to people working in the public sector.
Despite a few get a life comments, Harris said theres been widespread support for the tax challenge.
I think a lot of people, irrespective of where they come from politically, believe in fairness, he said. Whether were sports buffs and were watching a hockey game, we feel the referee should be fair.
For more on Harriss tax challenge, see projectloophole.com