The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) headquarters Connaught Building is pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) headquarters Connaught Building is pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Federal targeting of Muslim charities amounts to prejudice: civil liberties coalition

About 75 per cent of organizations whose charitable status was revoked following audits were Muslim charities

A national civil liberties coalition says a secretive division of the Canada Revenue Agency is unfairly targeting Muslim charities for audits based on flimsy reasoning, amounting to discrimination.

A newly released report by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group says the Review and Analysis Division of the revenue agency’s charities directorate works with national security agencies to carry out the audits, with little accountability or independent review.

The report says that from 2008 to 2015, 75 per cent of the organizations whose charitable status was revoked following division audits were Muslim charities, and that at least another four have had their status pulled since then.

It says that despite these revocations, not a single Muslim charitable organization, or individual associated with one, has been charged with a terrorist financing crime.

The Ottawa-based civil liberties monitoring group is a coalition of dozens of Canadian civil society organizations established to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of national security and anti-terrorism laws.

In an initial response to questions about the report, the Canada Revenue Agency said it does not select registered charities for audit based on any particular faith or denomination, adding it is firmly dedicated to diversity, inclusion and anti-racism.

If non-compliance is identified as a result of an audit, the agency generally provides a charity with an opportunity to correct the issues, it said.

“Only a very small proportion of charity audits conducted by the CRA result in serious consequences such as sanctions or revocation.”

The report notes that over the last two decades, the revenue agency has audited between 600 and 800 charities per year, the vast majority selected at random.

The report distinguishes between these audits and those specifically selected by Review and Analysis Division due to terrorist financing concerns.

According to statements by agency officials, from 2008 to 2015 RAD completed audits of 16 charities, eight of which had their charitable status revoked, the report says.

Of those eight, six were Muslim charities, accounting for 75 per cent of RAD revocations during this period, it adds. Two additional Muslim charities had their status revoked during the time period, but it is not known if they were audited by the division.

The civil liberties group says the process of an audit, and possible revocation, has also created a chilling effect that is undermining and harming the Muslim charitable sector in Canada.

The creation of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians in 2018 and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency the following year has presented new opportunities for independent review of the process, but this has yet to occur, the report says.

It calls on the Trudeau government to refer the issue to the review agency, known as NSIRA, for an examination of the Review and Analysis Division’s processes to ensure organizations are not being targeted due to racial or religious prejudice.

The group also wants Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier to declare an immediate moratorium on the targeted audit of Muslim charities until the review is complete. This would still allow the agency to audit Muslim charities selected at random.

In addition, the report recommends the Finance Department revisit the anti-terrorism regulatory, policy and legislative landscape, particularly a 2015 federal risk assessment and its effect on the Muslim community.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

federal governmentracism

Just Posted

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

The stretch of trail north of Royal Bay Secondary connecting to Painters Trail at Murray’s Pond will be closed temporarily this week for invasive species removal. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood trail behind Royal Bay Secondary temporarily closed for invasive species removal

Cloure in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday this week

Proposed design for the Topaz Park bike and skate park elements. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria requesting feedback on Topaz Park redesign

Public input now being taken for proposed skate, bike park ideas

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read