OTTAWA - The federal Liberals are moving ahead with plans to create an ownership registry after promising to increase transparency about who owns and controls corporations.
Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne has tabled legislation that would create a corporate beneficial ownership registry.
The prospective registry is expected to have the goal of making it easier to identify owners of corporations who launder money, commit financial crimes or evade taxes.
Today, we introduced a new bill to increase the transparency of corporations.— François-Philippe Champagne (FPC) 🇨🇦 (@FP_Champagne) March 22, 2023
✅fight tax evasion, money laundering and other criminal activity
🏦improve Canadians’ trust in the marketplace and institutions
📈make Canada a leader in corporate transparency pic.twitter.com/uRySc2EwPV
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mandate letter to Champagne after the last federal election included instructions to create such a registry.
The Liberals' 2021 budget dedicated $2.1 million over two years "to support the implementation of a publicly accessible corporate beneficial ownership registry by 2025."
But the Liberals' supply-and-confidence agreement with New Democrats, signed a year ago, required a quicker timeline.
In that deal, which sees the NDP supporting the government on key votes in exchange for movement on NDP priorities, the federal government committed to implementing the registry by the end of 2023.
In a statement, NDP finance critic Daniel Blaikie said his party has been pushing for the creation of the registry "to make it harder for wealthy tax dodgers, corrupt businesspeople and sanctioned Russian oligarchs to hide their assets in Canada."
The federal government held public consultations in 2020 with a range of stakeholders — including law enforcement, tax agencies and industry associations — and found nearly all agreed with the idea of creating a registry.