From The Desk of John Richardson: Co-Chair – Congratulations – do you prefer newspapers or government?

October 22, 2014 Greetings: We have all have good days. We all have bad days. For me, yesterday October 21 was an exceptionally good and an exceptionally interesting day.

First the exceptionally good:

The Morning Have you seen the movie “Groundhog Day“? It’s the story of a person who wakes up to a day that is exactly the same as every other day. Well, I had (note the word is “had”) been working with a client for approximately 10 months (not a U.S. person based case). Numerous appearances (seemed like “Groundhog Day”). Numerous roadblocks. But, finally yesterday, we got the result we needed! Great result for the client!  He is now “free” to continue the journey of life unencumbered. On a more practical level it’s over – I don’t need to worry about this anymore. (Well his father did share with me that he had a “Green Card” (OMG moment coming?) in the 90s. Without additional comment, I just asked him how he liked living in Canada?)

The Afternoon I was thrilled to receive the message that you met your fundraising goal  for October. I emphasize that this is your and only your achievement! Congratulations!

To put this in perspective:

FATCA is a vicious assault on the governments and people of the world. Yet the only “FATCA pushback” (at least to date) is coming from your efforts! You may not have thought of yourselves as world leaders. But, that’s exactly what you are! The FATCA lawsuit began with an idea. Your belief, conviction and funding have transformed the “idea” of organized opposition to FATCA to the “reality” of organized opposition to FATCA.

I noted with interest the following two comments about your fundraising achievement:

First from Trish:

This is simply fantastic! And I hope all the government folks who doubt us and the tax-border folks who would so like to see us fail, are taking this in….. Because I am the treasurer for ADCS ADSC, I see the donations and I have to say, it is overwhelming to realize that this is coming from the “little people” i.e., no big corporate donations (they won’t touch it, I guess) and no “sugar daddies,” Just amazing and not to be dismissed! Way to go! Thank you so much!

And in  response to Trish:

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, and I guess really, I’ll put the “downs” away after this post. Lots of people worked hard to make sure this deadline was met. But, with it falling on average people…that’s still a lot of money to raise, with even more to look forward to. I hope those that give don’t run out of steam, or resources, to make sure this suit goes all the way. But…the accomplishment of reaching the first 100 is amazing…and so grassroots.

What this demonstrates is that  the support base for your FATCA lawsuit is very very deep!  Your fund raising achievements have been without large donors. Remember that you are NOT in a sprint. You are in a marathon. This means that the depth of the support base is far more important than a small number of “deep pocketed” donors (but for the record, regardless of the depth of your pockets, all donations are welcome). What “Debbie Downer” suggests may be a weakness is actually a strength! The base of “average people” is greater than the base of “wealthy donors”. There are more and more new donors -expanding your donor base – joining your ranks every day. Congratulations! You have proved that you can fund this lawsuit. Now that you have proven you can fund the lawsuit, the key is to continue funding it!

Now the exceptionally interesting

Last night Glenn Greenwald (of Edward Snowden fame) was speaking in Toronto. I went to the event. It was fascinating. As you know Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Edward Snowden exposed the “spying practices” of the U.S. Government. Most of the discussion revolved around the issues of:

– the role of journalism in a democracy (As goes journalism, so goes democracy).

– the courage and conviction of Mr. Snowden

– the nature of the current U.S. Government

(Mr. Greenwald was asked who he would most like to debate the issues with. He answered “President Obama, noting that Candidate Obama is very different from President Obama.)

Overall the “Greenwald event” focused on the the relationship between the power of governments and the role of the U.S. government in ending privacy. Yes spying on people is problematic. Spying on friendly governments is problematic. The erosion of privacy is problematic. By spying on people around the U.S. government is eroding privacy around the world.

President Bush was fond of saying that: “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists”.

Those who oppose U.S. government spying might because they value privacy might say:

“You’re either on the side of privacy rights or you’re on the side of the Obama administration.”

FATCA is  a program where the U.S. Government is forcing non-U.S. banks to spy on American citizens outside the United States.

FATCA is just one more way that the U.S. Government is eroding privacy rights all over the world. Our FATCA lawsuit will necessarily bring FATCA under judicial scrutiny. Our FATCA lawsuit will expose how FATCA steals any expectation of financial privacy from Canadians.

Our friends in the Harper Government, the banks and the cross-border professionals all say that the “FATCA IGA” is nothing more than an “information sharing agreement”. Actually, it’s an “information stealing agreement” – for the purpose of ending privacy. Privacy is essential to human freedom and to a functioning democracy.

Of course a functioning democracy depends on more than privacy. It also includes government accountability. It includes the right of the people to criticize the government.

The journalist Glenn Greenwald has shown why journalism is necessary to a functioning democracy.

Remember the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson who famously said that if he had to choose between :

“a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter”

The wisdom of President Jefferson is included is part of the collective wisdom of America.

These former presidents which embody the spirit of what America was envisioned to be would be shocked to see the America of Barack Obama.

Congratulations and keep up the great work!

John Richardson


Oh and Glen Greenwald has been to Toronto before – I highly recommend you watch the 2014 Munk Debates:

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