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Canada-Switzerland pact makes it easier to chase tax cheats

Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with Swiss President Doris Leuthard in Kehrsatz, Switzerland on Oct. 22, 2010.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Canada and Switzerland have agreed to make it easier for people to travel back and forth between the two countries and for authorities to chase tax cheats.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Swiss President Doris Leuthard agreed to rewrite their Open Skies and Double Taxation agreements between the two countries.

The changes to the taxation agreement will make it easier for authorities to access financial information of Canadians operating in Switzerland to deter tax evasion.

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Switzerland has been working with Canada in identifying tax evaders, Mr. Harper said.

"Switzerland's been very co-operative with us in that regard," Harper told reporters at a joint news conference.

"The double-taxation agreement we're signing today will further enhance co-operation and obviously we'll use the information we gain through this to ensure that Canadians respect Canadian tax laws."

The aviation agreement expands landing rights for Canadian and Swiss airlines between the two countries, including liberalized rules for stopovers.

Friday's meeting was the first official visit of a Canadian prime minister to Switzerland. Mr Harper noted that Switzerland won the first gold medal at Vancouver's Olympic games and Canada won the last, making them "the bookends of the games."

The Prime Minister will stay in Switzerland over the weekend to attend the Francophonie summit. Switzerland agreed to host the gathering at the last minute after the intended host, Madagascar, was expelled from because of a coup.

With files from CP

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About the Author

John Ibbitson started at The Globe in 1999 and has been Queen's Park columnist and Ottawa political affairs correspondent.Most recently, he was a correspondent and columnist in Washington, where he wrote Open and Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper. He returned to Ottawa as bureau chief in 2009. More

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