How Irvings Built an Empire Using Tax Havens

In 1972, billionaire  K.C. Irving of New Brunswick moved to tax-free Bermuda and placed ownership of his empire into a series of Bermudian trusts to avoid taxes in Canada. Decades later his companies - and there are over 100 of them - still rely on New Brunswick forests, minerals, roads, ports, education system, and health care to vault them comfortably into the 1 per cent.

New Brunswick may be struggling with provincial government debt, high poverty rates and low education outcomes - but the Irvings continue to thrive.  In fact, they pretty well control the province's media. And they regularly convince provincial and federal governments to give them loans and grants for their various enterprises. 

The Irvings will insist what they - and other like-minded multinationals -are doing is legal. But should it be?  Is corporate social responsibility just a matter of making well-publicized donations to hospital foundations and inner-city poverty projects? Or should corporations pay their fair share of taxes so that governments have the revenue needed to invest in social and physical infrastructure that will benefit corporations as well as its citizens.

Tax Fairness' Dennis Howlett recently talked to New Brunswick filmaker Charles Theriault about these and other questions. Here is Charles' report. It is well worth watching.