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Chia-yi is a Partner in the Toronto Tax Law Group and leads the tax disputes team at McCarthy Tétrault LLP.
Chia-yi acts for large Canadian corporations in the areas of tax dispute resolution and tax litigation. He combines the use of innovative court procedures with his intimate knowledge of various tax authorities to fashion strategic and effective litigation advice. He has appeared as counsel for corporate clients in the telecommunications, financial services, resources, retail and transportation industries before the Tax Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Chia-yi regularly addresses the Tax Executives Institute, Inc., and writes for various tax publications including the tax litigation journal on which he sits on the Board of Editors and the CCH Ontario Tax Reporter for which he is the case law contributor.
Chia-yi is recognized by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings for his highly regarded legal skills and professional ethics and is also recognized as one of Canada's leading commodity tax lawyers in the 2010 edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada.
Chia-yi was named a winner of the inaugural Canadian Immigrant Magazine’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Awards of 2009.
I can still remember the damp September day in 1988 when the Air Canada flight landed in Toronto. It took 22 long hours to fly from Singapore to Delhi, London and then to Toronto. I had completed a mandatory 2 ½ year stint in the Singapore Army only days before and my family had settled in Ottawa 6 months earlier. Though I did not sleep a wink on the plane, my adrenalin overtook the fatigue as I eagerly boarded the taxi headed to York University. This was to be my new home for the next five years.
In the early days, I was fortunate enough to meet friends who were genuinely interested in me and my Singapore story. I was also curious about my new country and they patiently spent their time sharing the essence of Canadian culture. They took pains to explain to me their passion for criticizing politicians, their strange penchant for apologizing and the unique fetish for hockey. I loved every minute of it!
Someone then suggested that if I wanted to acclimatize to the Canadian culture and the microcosm that was York University, I should “dive into the deep end of the pool” and immerse myself in my new environment. Without fully understanding the full impact associated with such a decision, I took that advice to heart. I participated right away in student government where I crossed swords with folks from every political stripe, traveled to Quebec to enroll in French immersion courses and took on different jobs ranging from janitorial work, answering phones to telemarketing. There was not an endeavor I undertook which was not fun and eye-opening from the perspective of understanding Canadians better. At every turn, I resisted the easy temptation to retreat to social circles that were more familiar to me.
Now that I am a partner at a prominent Bay Street law firm, and I have some insight into the business world, (which is sometimes based on who you know and not what you know), I look back at those early years with much fondness and gratitude. Those experiences contributed meaningfully in filling the gaps with which I was stuck because I could not call on the networks I would have had had I grown up in Toronto. I have learned and continually remind myself that a lack of familiarity with a class of people or with a subject matter can be easily overcome by active listening, intellectual curiosity and genuine sense of open-mindedness. My journey of learning continues……..