Open Letter to Members of Parliment regarding the Tobin Tax

Monday, March 20 2000

Open Letter to Members of Parliament,

On March 23rd, 1999, the Canadian Parliament demonstrated world leadership when it passed motion M-239 urging Canada to "enact a tax on financial transactions in concert with the international community." This unprecedented action was viewed by many as an important first step in controlling destabilising speculation on financial markets, the wild and anarchic behaviour of which threatens all the economies of the world.

The passage of the Canadian motion sparked a global movement in support of controls on speculative capital. The Brazilian Parliament held hearings on the Tobin tax in August, 1999, three months after 100 Parliamentarians launched the 'Parliamentary Front for the Tobin Tax'. In September, Parliamentarians for Global Action, representing over 1,300 Parliamentarians world-wide, endorsed the Tobin tax. The European Parliament debated the Tobin tax in January, 2000. The governments of Finland and Belgium have endorsed the tax and the French Parliament has debated it. A Parliamentary motion is currently before the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. A resolution on the Tobin tax will soon be presented to the US Congress.

In spite of the growing support internationally, the Canadian government has acted only minimally on both letter and spirit of the motion passed by you – one of the members of the very legislative body that provides a base for its authority. Only at the United Nations Copenhagen+5 Social Summit negotiations has Canada proposed inserting text to further study the tax. While this action is laudable, it is simply not enough.

We are writing to express indignation with such limited action and to ask you to urge the Canadian government to hasten the implementation of a tax on financial transactions in accordance with the expressed wishes of Parliament.

More specifically, the Canadian government should:

Report to the House of Commons on the efforts made by the Canadian government to advance capital control measures with the international community;

Commission the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, to hold public hearings to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of currency transactions taxes such as the Tobin tax . The SCFAIT will organise hearings on the impacts of globalisation in the near future;

Utilising analysis from the public hearings, commission studies on the desirability, feasibility and benefits of implementing a Tobin tax. These studies should be made public and presented to various international agencies and in various international fora (Group of 8, Group of 20, International Monetary Fund, United Nations, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Bank for International Settlements, central banks, etc.);

Hold an international conference on the Tobin tax which would be attended by top experts (economists, academics, tax specialists, Parliamentary representatives from other countries,) as a means of building international support and advancing the debate globally;

We urge you to take the necessary measures to ensure that the will of the Canadian Parliament is followed. The credibility of our democracy and the public's trust in its elected members is undermined when the decisions of Parliament are made irrelevant by inaction.


Pamela Foster Pierre Henrichon
Coordinator Spokesperson
Halifax Initiative ATTAC-Québec
On behalf of non-governmental organizations representing more than 2,750,000 Canadians

Roger Crowther
National Representative

Bruce Campbell
Executive Director
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Peggy Teagle
Executive Director, Canadian Consortium for International Social Development

Betty Plewes
President – CEO
Canadian Council for International Cooperation

Ken Georgetti
Canadian Labour Congress

Lyndsay Poaps
Co- Director , Check Your Head – Youth Global Education Network

Maude Barlow
Council of Canadians

Melanie MacDonald
Executive Director

Sherri Ash
Collective Member
Democracy Street

Duff Conacher
Democracy Watch

Fabien Laboeuf
Executive Director
Development and Peace

John Dillon
Research Co-ordinator
Ecumenical Coalition for Economic Justice

Jean Arnold
Executive Director
Falls Brook Centre

Herb Barbolet
Executive Director

Cliff Wallis
Friends of the Oldman River

Françoise David
Fédération des Femmes du Québec

John Mihevc
Coordinator, Economic Justice
Inter-Church Coalition of Africa

Joe Gunn
Chair, Inter-Church Committee for Human Rights in Latin America

Warren Allmand
President,International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development

Laurie Rektor
Executive Director
National Anti-Poverty Organization

Cory Ollikka
National Farmers Union

Larry Brown

Chris Shenk
Research Director
Ontario Federation of Labour

Rieky Stuart
Executive Director
Oxfam Canada

Catherine Little
National Manager

Gail Lasiuk
Saskatchewan Coalition for Social Justice

Roger Peters
Saskatchewan Environmental Society

Elizabeth May
Executive Director
Sierra Club of Canada

Derek MacCuish
Program Coordinator
Social Justice Committee of Montréal

Mike Nickerson
Executive Director
Sustainability Project

Dennis Howlett
National Coordinator
Ten Days for Global Justice

William Saunders
Vancouver & District Labour Council

Steve Shrybman
Executive Director, West Coast Environmental Law Association

Linda Morgan
President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Pari Johnston
World Interaction Mondiale

Notable Canadians and Faculty Members from twenty universities or colleges

Most Reverend Vernon James Weisgerber
(Bishop of Saskatoon)
Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Margaret Atwood

Laurie E. Adkin
Associate Professor,
Department of Political Science
University of Alberta

John A. Boan
Professor Emeritus of Economics
University of Regina

Ronald G. Bodkin
Professor of Economics
University of Ottawa

Andrew Brook
Professor of Philosophy
Director, Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, Carleton University

William K. Carroll
Professor Department of Sociology
University of Victoria

John Coates
Associate Professor
Saint Thomas University

Thomas Dunk
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
Lakehead University

Graeme Gibson

Terry Heaps
Associate Professor
Department of Economics
Simon Fraser University

Eric Helleiner
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
Trent University

Thomas O. Hueglin
Department of Political Science
Wilfrid Laurier University

Ronald Labonte
Director of Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit, Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan

Jean-Guy Loranger
Associate Professor
Department of Economics
Université de Montréal

David MacDonald
Professor, School of Community and Public Affairs, Concordia University

Gayle MacDonald
Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology, St.Thomas University

David MacGregor
Professor of Sociology
King's College

Linda MacQuaig
Journalist and Writer

Alex C. Michalos
Professor and Chair of Political Science
University of Northern British Columbia

Joanne Naiman
Department of Sociology
Ryerson Polytechnic University

W. Robert Needham
Director, Canadian Studies Program
St Paul's United College, University of Waterloo

Randle W.Nelsen
Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology
Lakehead University

John Price
Assistant Professor
Department of History
University of Victoria

Tim Quigley
Professor of Law
University of Saskatchewan

Joseph K. Roberts
Professor Emeritus
Department of Political Science
University of Regina

Donald Swartz
Associate Professor School of Public Administration, Carleton University

Robert C.H. Sweeny
Associate Professor of History
Memorial University

Frank J. Tester
School of Social Work and Family Studies
University of British Columbia

Robert Ware
Department of Philosophy
University of Calgary