LETTER: Charity audits rightfully concerning

Editorial on Rankin's efforts to clarify why Canadian charities are being audited is timely and troubling

Your editorial regarding Victoria MP Murray Rankin, and his efforts to have a summer meeting of a parliamentary meeting to clarify the criteria for auditing charities for their political activities, is timely and troubling.

The Canada Revenue Agency has created a team of 15 auditors to audit the political activities of selected charities. Some 52 audits are underway or concluded, with eight more to be launched  by 2016, drawing upon a special $13.4 million fund.

Ironically, this is the same CRA that has cut staff employed in chasing down wealthy individuals and corporations that hide from $5 to $8 billion annually in potential tax revenue through their secret foreign tax havens.

The initial wave of political audits in 2012-2013 was aimed at environmental groups that opposed the Harper government‘s energy and pipeline policies.

Now they have targeted voluntary associations that are fighting poverty, providing international aid and promoting human rights. Your editorial’s call for Harper government transparency  is bang-on.

We do know that an oil industry lobby group, “Ethical Oil”, has submitted formal complaints to the Conservative regime in 2012 and subsequently environmental groups such as the Tides Canada Foundation and the David Suzuki foundation have been audited.

Now groups such as the Ottawa-based Canada without Poverty charity and the United Church of Canada are under government scrutiny, as is Amnesty International Canada.

Their sins are apparently similar to  those of Oxfam Canada, which was required by government officials to alter its mission statement to no longer refer to the prevention of poverty, only its alleviation!

Government intrusion into the legitimate political activities of free, voluntary associations is yet another nail in the coffin of our dying democracy.

I hope Rankin continues to shine the light of openness and transparency on this issue as well as the national scandal of billions of dollars of tax revenues lost annually because of a government that does not have the will to close tax shelter laws and loopholes of the elites!

Ron Faris

Saanich

 

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