Charitable status attacked or revoked

Canadian Charities and the Canada Revenue Agency

Update 30 October 2018— After Canada Without Poverty won a landmark case in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on 16 July, 2018, ruling that the CRA’s rules are an unconstitutional limit on free speech, the federal government decided to appeal in August 2018. On October 25, after numerous organizations provided joint comments and recommendations on the new regulations, the Minister of Finance tabled proposed changes to the Income Tax Act, which incorporate the most significant demands of the organizations and the recommendations of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities.

Canadian Unitarian Council

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has told the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) that it can no longer work for justice in the world. This is an unexpected development given Prime Minister Trudeau’s Mandate Letter directing the Minister of National Revenue to implement a policy to “allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free of political harassment.”

Environmental groups in Canada

From 2006-2015, the Conservative government defunded and attempted to discredit leading and respected environmental research and advocacy groups. Environmentalists were portrayed as a threat to Canadian security. Documents obtained under the Access to Information Act confirm that the RCMP and CSIS were monitoring environmental groups opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Dying With Dignity

Dying With Dignity logo

In 2011, the charitable organization Dying With Dignity Canada (DWD) partnered with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) to support physician-assisted death before the courts as a human rights issue in the landmark case of Carter v. Canada.

Environmental Defence

Environmental Defence Logo

Environmental Defence is one of Canada’s most important environmental organizations. It has charitable status. In early 2011, it started to undergo a routine audit by the Canada Revenue Agency. Towards the end of the year, the auditors indicated that the audit was nearing completion and that there were no major concerns.

Steelworkers Humanity Fund

Steelworkers Humanity Fund  logo

In 2012, the Canada Revenue Canada (CRA) began a “blitz” of reviews of the registered status of charities that are critical of the federal government and promote policy ideas that differ from the government's agenda.

Official Development Assistance

Official Development Assistance

Since the 1960s, Canada has been internationally recognised as a progressive and generous country in its diplomatic and financial contributions to promoting international development, thought its Official Development Assistance (ODA) program. However, since coming to power in 2006, the Conservative government has been quietly dismantling programmes, changing policy orientations and priorities, and—following an initial increase which peaked in 2011—cutting the federal foreign aid budget, all to the point where there has been a major reorientation of Canada’s international development agenda, with virtually no public consultation.

Foundation for Canadian Studies UK

Foundation for Canadian Studies Logo

The Foundation for Canadian Studies (FCS) in the UK has been a prominent international champion of the serious study of Canada since 1975. The rare conferral of Canadian charitable status on an international organization and modest but on-going funding from Ottawa recognized its value for almost 40 years. Its significance, however, did not protect the FCS from the partisan anti-intellectualism of the Canadian Conservative government. In 2014, it lost charitable status.

In 2015, former BC premier and current Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Gordon Campbell, forced the resignation of all but one of the senior scholars on the Board of Directors (as an ironical footnote only a Professor of Pathology remains) putting firm control in the hands of representatives of business and the High Commission itself. The mandate of the FCS is now to address the political priorities of the Harper government.

PEN Canada

Since January 2013 PEN Canada has filed four access to information (ATI) requests in an effort to understand how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) interprets the prohibition on “partisan political activity” set forth in ss.

Oxfam Canada

Like many organizations working in the area of international development, human rights and poverty alleviation, Oxfam Canada has found itself under increased scrutiny by the federal government.

Oxfam was required to file articles of continuance to comply with the federal Not for Profit Act before October 17, 2014, a general requirement for all federal not for profit corporations. While reviewing Oxfam's submission in the summer of 2014, the charities directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) told Oxfam that to keep its charitable status, Oxfam can work to “alleviate” poverty but not “prevent” it. CRA reportedly wrote that "Relieving poverty is charitable, but preventing it is not," and that, "Preventing poverty could mean providing for a class of beneficiaries that are not poor."