Open letter: Enhancing the role of charities in public policy debates in Canada, request for a platform commitment

The following is an open letter that was sent to all five federal political parties by 18 charities and civil society groups concerned about the ongoing targeted audits of charities in Canada and the resulting "advocacy chill" is has caused. While Voices-Voix is not a signatory, we are re-publishing the letter in full as it reflects much of the research we have carried on the topic over the past months. 




February 10, 2015 

Case study #105: Sylvie Therrien

The latest case study from Voices-Voix is now online. It's a look a the case of Sylvie Therrien, a federal government employee who served as an EI investigator. She publicly denounced the fact that employees had to meet quotas for the number of EI beneficiaries they cut, as well as discriminatory practices, and was subsequently fired from her job. The pretence was that she did not use the official whistleblowers process, a process she (and many others) view as ineffective.

Case study #104: PEN Canada

What happens when a champion of free expression asks questions of the Canada Revenue Agency's audits of charities? Especially if you voice concerns over the apparent targeting of progressive charities? Well, in the case of PEN Canada, you get audited too.

Charity law blocks progress on issues facing Canadians

By Garfield Mahood and Brian Iler, the Toronto Star, 14 Feb 2015

Canadian charities are under attack. Environmental, human rights and international development charities, organizations struggling to address poverty and women’s issues are examples of non-governmental organizations that have lost their ability to issue charitable tax credits under the Income Tax Act. Either that or they face the threat of a loss as a result of ongoing Canada Revenue Agency audits.

First Nations children still face delays in accessing health care: report

By CBC News, 10 February 2015

First Nations children in Canada still face obstacles in accessing health and social services as quickly as other children due to continuing "bureaucratic confusion" and red tape on the part of governments, according to a new report.

How Ottawa’s new terrorism act could chill free speech

By Kent Roach and Craig Forcese, The Globe & Mail, 5 February 2015

Kent Roach teaches at the University of Toronto law faculty and worked with both the Arar and Air India commissions. Craig Forcese is a law professor teaching national security law at the University of Ottawa and a participant in the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society.

Long-form census is needed for good decision-making: Editorial

By The Toronto Star, 5 February 2015

It’s like pulling government policies out of a black hole.

That’s what groups as varied as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, doctors, charities, city planners, educators, economists, business leaders, scientists, academics, pollsters, civic activists and ordinary citizens alike have been arguing since the Harper government ditched the long-form census back in 2010. (...)

PM's charity audits look for 'bias, one-sidedness'

By Kelly Crowe, CBC News, 4 February 2015

Is fighting for the right to buy private health care a charitable act? Apparently it is.

But fighting for the right to die on your own terms is not. It's political, at least according to the logic of the Canada Revenue Agency.

So, when is a charity being political? It's an increasingly perplexing question.

Faire la promotion du terrorisme devient une infraction criminelle

Par Hélène Buzzetti, Le Devoir, 31 janvier 2015

Le projet de loi C-51 déposé vendredi à la Chambre des communes instaure un tout nouveau type de crime au Canada : celui d’encourager le terrorisme par la parole et les écrits. Des spécialistes en droit s’interrogent déjà sur les dérapages qui pourraient survenir. 

Case study #103: Thalidomiders

For fifty years, the survivors of thalidomide, one of the worst health disasters in Canadian history, have been fighting for justice and compensation. While the Canadian government has made recent overtures to the Thalidomiders, significant questions remain as to whether a fair and just reparation will be made. Make sure to read our latest case study for the history and ongoing repercussions of the thalidomide disaster on it's survivors and on public health in Canada.

To read the full case study, click the link below.