The Conservative Party’s national revenue critic is calling on the CBC to hand over its Panama Papers data to Canada’s tax agency, something the Crown corporation is refusing to do.
Ziad Aboultaif (Edmonton Manning, Alta.) says information coming out of a mammoth leak of documents detailing a global transfer of wealth into offshore accounts is fair game for the Canada Revenue Agency to demand.
“If someone says, especially the media, ‘I have something,’…I think they have to back it up,” Mr. Aboultaif told The Hill Times in an interview.
“Maybe they have information the CRA doesn’t have, and the CRA is asking for details, and I think they have the right to do so.”
The tax agency has formally asked the CBC to hand over the information, the broadcaster reported April 11, but the CBC is refusing, saying it does not reveal its sources and pointing to a similar request in 2013 that it also rejected.
Mr. Aboultaif said press freedom can’t always trump the public interest. “[If] it has to do with the public, public issues…I think they need to back it up,” he said.
There are 350 Canadians in the database leak, CBC has said, citing an unspecified report. News articles indicate that the information in the leak comes from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The Hill Times has not seen the documents and cannot independently verify the information.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is working with two Canadian news outlets, the CBC and the Toronto Star, as well as others around the world to process the cache of records into news stories.
The consortium has already rebuffed requests to release the data en masse, stating that while the Panama Papers reveal questionable activity by politicians, banks and celebrities, “other parts of the data are of a private nature and of no interest to the public.”
Tory critic wants a reluctant CBC to hand over Panama Papers | (external - login to view)