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.
CRA is cherry-picking its jurisprudence to justify its program of political activities audits. It is ignoring these recent decisions from Australia, England, New Zealand and even Canada's Federal Court of Appeal. Disagreeing with the government on environmental issues is not necessarily a partisan activity.
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.
The CCF assisted a taxpayer named Irvin Leroux in getting a decision from the B.C. Supreme Court, holding that Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) owed him a duty of care and breached its duty towards him. This was a precedent-setting ruling: never before had the CRA been told by any court that it had a duty towards individual taxpayers to treat them with care, and not to be negligent towards them.
The "advocacy chill" in Canada is due to the politicization of the regulator rather than the law of charity. I am still only a reluctant supporter of increasing the rights of charities to engage in political activities, and my participation in this debate is firmly rooted in my belief in the rule of law and in opposition to the politicization of the current Charities Directorate.