Strategic communicator, writer. Masters thesis exploring 'advocacy chill' among charities jumpstarted national conversation on abuse of power by federal Conservative government
Gareth Kirkby is a former award-winning journalist and media manager who recently completed a Master’s thesis and now works in communications. He is interested in how to communicate for a better world in a way that motivates people rather than depresses and disempowers them. His Master's research blog is at garethkirkby.ca.
The Trudeau government seemingly called off the CRA from harassing Canada's charities on January 20. Well, not really, in fact. The Trudeau government's timidity so far in fixing this abuse of power by the previous government will probably result in some of Canada's most popular and important charities heading toward decertification and oblivion.
Forget the election debate over budget deficits and tolerance of the veil. We have another deficit in Canada and it is neither looming nor veiled. We're in the midst of an incrementally created democratic deficit that after nine years of accumulated budget cuts, abuse of power, and muzzling diverse voices has now arguably put at risk our democracy's health and vigour.
Respected charities doing important work are being told they were never qualified to operate, that some bureaucrat made a historical mistake and now the organization must be shut down, their work discontinued, their assets scattered among those charities in their same sector that survive.
Canadian charities are experiencing an "advocacy chill" and changing the way they go about their work as a result of what they say is "bullying" by the Harper Conservative government. My just completed Master's thesis research finds that the denunciatory rhetoric of government ministers against charities, followed by stepped up audits is having its toll not only on charity operations, but also on the strength of Canada's public discussions and thus on the vigor of democracy itself.