Right-leaning charities continue to report zero "political" activity



OTTAWA — The country’s most active right-leaning charities reported zero “political” activity in 2014 while engaging in work that appears to meet the Canada Revenue Agency’s own definition, a new Broadbent Institute survey has found. This raises fresh questions about how conservative-oriented charities are interpreting CRA’s definition of “political” activity and the agency’s political-activity auditing program.

The survey of 2014 CRA filings of 10 right-leaning charities follows up on a Broadbent Institute report released last October, titled Stephen Harper’s CRA: Selective audits, “political” activity, and right-leaning charities. The earlier report examined publicly available CRA tax filings of the same charities for the years 2011 to 2013 related to their finances and activities and cross-referenced these with their publicly available work in those years.

As was the case for that three-year period, the new survey found that all of the charities with published filings (nine out of 10) reported conducting no political activity in 2014; CRA has yet to publish the tax filings of one of the charities or the charity has yet to file. This survey, which includes the Fraser Institute, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and Focus on the Family, provides examples of activity in 2014 for each of the charities that appear to meet CRA’s definition of “political.”

“Back in 2012, we know the Harper government allocated money to ramp up political activity audits of environmental charities. The auditing scope was then extended to include anti-poverty, foreign aid and human rights groups. So what exactly is the CRA doing about right-leaning charities consistently reporting zero political work? Has it triggered audits just like the blanket audits of charities the government is less fond of?, asked Rick Smith, Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute.

Given these findings, the Institute is renewing its call for the establishment of an independent inquiry with a clear scope of action to examine CRA processes to ensure transparency and fairness in its decision-making criteria around political-activity audits and interpretations of “political” activity, as well as to safeguard that such processes are not subject to political pressures or interference.

Under the law, a charity is permitted to spend no more than 10% of their resources on “political” activities. Partisan activity is prohibited. The new survey, titled Right-learning charities continue to claim 0% political activity to CRA, is available online at http://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/democratic_renewal.


For more information, please contact: Sarah Schmidt, Director of Communications at the Broadbent Institute, 613-857-2814 or sschmidt [at] broadbentinstitute [dot] ca.