The investigation into alleged corruption at the Canada Revenue Agency must cover the entire country to clear suspicions about the integrity of the tax-collection agency, the opposition said Friday.
The government responded that it is fully co-operating with the RCMP, which has recently expanded the scope of its investigation from the CRA's offices in Montreal to the rest of its operations in Quebec.
The federal agency has been hit in recent months by a series of allegations about kickbacks to federal auditors in Montreal in exchange for lax audits or turning a blind eye to undeclared revenues. Revelations in The Globe and Mail about the expansion of the police investigation to other parts of the province reverberated in Question Period, with the NDP stating the growing probe "is raising questions about the state of the CRA as a whole."
"Canadians expect this agency to operate with impeccable integrity," NDP MP Guy Caron said, calling on Ottawa to "clear the air about these troubling corruption allegations."
"Can the government tell us if they have asked for an investigation all across Canada, and what are they doing to restore the confidence of all Canadians?" Mr. Caron said.
Cathy McLeod, the Conservative MP and parliamentary secretary to the Revenue Minister, said the alleged wrongdoing at the CRA goes back at least a decade, highlighting the extent of the problems within the agency.
Reading from prepared statements, Ms. McLeod said CRA officials are doing everything in their power to facilitate the RCMP's work.
"The government appreciates that these are very serious allegations," she said. "An RCMP investigation into this matter is ongoing and CRA officials are co-operating fully."
Ms. McLeod added: "The integrity of our tax system is very important to all Canadians and we will take all steps necessary to ensure that it is protected."
The Globe and Mail revealed Friday that the RCMP probe, initially targeting the Montreal offices of the CRA, has now expanded to include other tax offices across Quebec, under the codename of Operation Critique. While the RCMP has conducted a number of raids as part of its investigation, there had been no evidence to this point to suggest that the wrongdoing extended beyond the CRA's office in Montreal.
Sources said that the RCMP has already referred a number of files related to CRA operations in Montreal to Crown prosecutors. No charges have been laid, and none of the allegations contained in the police force's search warrants have been proven in court.