Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg, Manitoba - Manitoba Liberal MLAs have written PC Premier Heather Stefanson asking the province to step up for Ukraine by offering matching donations from Manitobans to humanitarian efforts and introducing new legislation to reveal the "beneficial owners" of corporations registered in Manitoba in order to identify and freeze Russian assets in Manitoba.
In an attempt to fight global money laundering, tax evasion, and fraud, many jurisdictions have introduced searchable electronic databases that allow people to discover the real owners making money from corporations. Manitoba is not one of them.
Canada has signed agreements to fight tax havens by agreeing to have provinces set up corporate registries, but the Manitoba PCs introduced a bill that simply requires a corporation to produce a list of the beneficial owners when asked - providing you know that the corporation exists.
"Putin's lawlessness has been enabled by governments all over the world who have refused to crack down on tax havens - of which Canada is one," said Lamont. "The reality is that the reason some people hide their money from government isn't high taxes, it's that they made it committing a crime, or they want to use it to commit more crimes. This is about bringing outlaws to justice."
When the PCs passed their original legislation, Manitoba Liberals were the only ones to speak on the issue of tax avoidance and money laundering. The NDP was largely silent.
"This is an example where a local bill requiring disclosure of beneficial ownership in a searchable public registry could have an international impact in two ways," said Lamont. "First, if it reveals further Russian assets that can be frozen, we can ramp up pressure on Russia and ensure no money is flowing out. Second, one of the reasons international tax havens won't close their loopholes is that provinces in Canada, including Manitoba, are just as bad."
Background: BC Land Owner Transparency Registry www..gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/real-estate-bc/land-owner-transparency-registry