With every action you take, you change the world, too -- for better or for worse -- whether or not you even realize it. Changing the world for the better, in my view, is an achievable goal for every single Canadian. And it's much like achieving any other goal in that all you need to do is start working on forming habits that contribute toward the change you want to see.
At 23 years of age, Nasreen Sheikh radically redefines what it means to be a Nepali woman. She is a Sunni Muslim living in a predominately Hindu community and is the founder of a fair-trade sewing collective called Local Women's Handicrafts. Nasreen is an outlier in her community. Typically, most Nepali girls marry between the ages of 15 and 18. The pressure to have a married daughter began to increase with each year Nasreen remained single however, and in 2014, Nasreen's parents decided that they had to take action. For Nasreen, this arranged marriage would have meant the end of Local Women's Handicrafts.
Sure, you might throw a few coins in the Salvation Army Christmas kettle at the mall, or write a cheque for the charity canvasser who comes knocking on your door, or send some canned goods to school with your kids for their annual fundraiser. But you probably do it without giving it a lot of thought, at least if you're like most of us.
It's true that most governments in developing countries provide education for children. And there's no doubt that millions of children overseas are intelligent, hard-working and yearning to succeed. But let's consider the many challenges which children in the world's poorest regions face when trying to attend school.
If the definition of charity can be improved by examining Scotland's law, certainly there is merit in looking to the civil law of Quebec for concepts that could enhance the meaning of charity in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada has moved away from the common law tradition of enabling courts to evolve new charitable purposes by analogy to previously recognized purposes.
When considering civil society organizations, there are few things to which government officials are more sensitive than political activities. It is doubtful that the activities considered unacceptably political by the Communist Party of China are any more overtly political than the impugned activities of charities in Canada.
The referendum in Scotland demonstrates the risks of England denying tax benefits to charities which promote indigenous Scottish values. Canada should have the self-confidence to respect the values and purposes which emanate from Quebec's people and legislature when granting tax benefits to registered charities.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue says that it is "absolutely shameful" to suggest that Canada Revenue Agency officials auditing charities could "somehow fall under political influence." This is a sideshow which is distracting the charitable sector from the real issues.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has recently forced Oxfam Canada to exclude "preventing poverty" from their mission statement in order to keep their charity status. Now a fundamental question needs to be answered. Why does the CRA think that charities have to wait for individuals to fall into poverty's trap before the charities can help the disadvantaged? Isn't prevention better than a cure? The bigger concern, however, is with a black-and-white definition of poverty. The assumption that one is not poor one day, but wakes up to be poor the next day is completely flawed.
with the activities of its charities section having been so thoroughly politicized by the Harper government, we can no longer call the CRA an effective instrument of public policy. Its campaign of vexatious audits of the political activities of progressive charities represents has created a chill in political dissent, and is a new low even for the Conservative regime.
Shelters and soup kitchens haven't demonstrated an ability to provide long term solutions for the majority of chronically homeless people. They should be an integral part of alleviating homelessness, but they don't have the financial capacity to solve the problem on their own. Moreover, it isn't fair to let City residents bear the entire cost.
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.
The evolution -- we might even say revolution -- taking place in the field of corporate social responsibility has been fascinating to behold. For the best companies, making your employees recycle, and cutting a big cheque once a year to some lucky charity, is no longer good enough. They're making "giving back" an integral part of doing business.