Think-tank says it was targeted with tax audit because of its politics

By Tonda MacCharles, The Toronto Star, 05 September 2014

OTTAWA—The Conservative government is distancing itself from the taxman’s audit of a left-leaning think tank targeted because its website appeared “biased” and “one-sided.”

Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay’s office insists Canada Revenue Agency audits“occur at arm’s length from the government and are conducted free of any political interference or motivation.” (...)

But over at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), a left-leaning “progressive” research and public education group that publishes on income inequality, climate change and a host of other issues, they have grave doubts.

The organization, best known for its annual Alternative Federal Budget, got what it calls an unnerving glimpse into auditors’ motivations via CRA’s response to its Access to Information request.

Among the documents was a one-page summary that indicated a review of the CCPA’s website “suggests that the organization may be carrying out prohibited partisan political activities, and that much of its research/educational materials may be biased/one-sided.” (...)

CP reported this week that two right-of-centre think-tanks, the C.D. Howe Institute and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said they are not currently under audit for political activities.

The Fraser Institute’s website says it depends “entirely on donations from people who understand the importance of impartial research and who support greater choice, less government intervention, and more personal responsibility.” (...)

However, Veldhuis adamantly disagreed with Campbell’s suggestion that think-tanks all come from a perspective or core set of values, or even that the Fraser Institute should be described as a conservative organization. He said the institute’s work is “not value-based, it’s driven by data.”

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