Chair of Royal Canadian Mint should be fired over tax-haven allegations, Mulcair says

The official Opposition is demanding that Jim Love, chair of the Royal Canadian Mint, be removed from his position following a media report that he orchestrated an elaborate tax-shelter scheme for the wealthy descendants of a former prime minister.

“Why did the government give a plum job to someone who was to act as a tax adviser on policy for the Conservatives when they knew — or ought to have known — that he was organizing stratagems so that rich Conservative families would not pay their taxes?” Tom Mulcair demanded in the House of Commons Wednesday.

“Why hasn’t he been fired yet?”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper described a lawsuit against Love over his handling of former prime minister Arthur Meighen’s fortune, reported by the CBC, as a “dispute between two private parties before the court.”

“I’m obviously not going to comment on that,” Harper said.

Harper’s remarks come a day after documents obtained by the CBC appeared to show how Love, a Toronto tax lawyer, chair of the Mint and long-time friend of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, helped transfer more than $8 million of the Meighen fortune to offshore accounts so the family would save on taxes.

Love was taken to court in 2008 by two of Meighen’s great-grandaughters who alleged he was acting negligently. Among their grievances was that Love, in moving some of the Meighen trust’s money to offshore tax havens, exposed the family to “taxes, interest and penalties.” The lawsuit was quietly settled in 2011 with Love, his lawyers, his trust company and Canada Trust ponying up $8.9 million, according to the CBC. No one admitted any fault.

Though Love – who was appointed to the Mint’s board in 2006 and made chair in 2009 – has not been charged with any wrongdoing, opposition leaders questioned whether someone engaged in such actions should have been appointed to head an important national institution.

“Taking someone like that in that situation, that’s the message they want to send? It’s an ethical and moral question, giving him a plum job like that,” Mulcair told reporters.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who did not call for Love’s employment to be terminated, nonetheless told reporters the revelations illustrate how the government “has regularly failed in it’s appointments process.”

Murray Rankin, critic for national revenue, called on government to launch an independent investigation into Love’s activities and challenged Flaherty in Question Period to “stand up to his well-connected friend.”

The Mint referred questions about Love to the Department of Finance and said Love would not be granting interviews. Flaherty’s office declined comment and referred questions to the media relations office for the department, which also declined comment.

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