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Liberals introduce legislation to create a corporate ownership registry

Goal is easier identification of owners of corporations tied to financial malfeasance
François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry speaks at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference regarding the future of critical metals and investing in Canada in Toronto, Monday, March 6, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

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.

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.

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.

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