09.20.2011 05:20 PM

Uncharitable politics

As a lot of you know, I support a lot of NGOs.  A lot of those NGOs do work in respect of the environment, animal welfare, and so on.

In recent months, I have been hearing from worried NGOs – over and over – that they have been targeted by federal Conservatives over their charitable status.  If they lose that status, they lose the ability to operate.

The Cons – federally and provincially – have been targeting organizations who take public positions they disapprove of (you know, the environment is good, animal abuse is bad, etc.).  They have been sending around bureaucrats to tell NGOs that they are “under review.”  The message has been clear: if you continue to advocate in a way we don’t like, you will lose your charitable status.  Federally, Conservatives have gone after a very well-known environmentalist, because they don’t like the things he says.  They want to put him out of business.

Here’s where you come in.

I’m collecting information about this McCarthyite practice for a possible column, and (for certain) my next book.  If you have any information about that, I’d love to hear from you, at wkinsella@hotmail.com.  Confidentiality guaranteed.

This is the worst kind of politics – and it has to stop.  Disagreeing with NGOs is fine.  But using the power of government to bankrupt NGOs you disagree with?  That isn’t fine.


  1. Ian M. says:

    It’s reported that in Brampton, ON. today Jason Kenny said that “Canada is a champion of free speech”. Hmmm. Really?http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/2011/09/20/18713721.html

  2. Wannabeapiper says:

    Having operated charities for over 40 years, my observation has been that charities are always policing the politicians to keep them from pimping off the charity ie. showing up for media events, mentioning charities in their political promulgations, misleading the public-especially during an election by overstating their participation in a charity and on and on and on. And now they are putting some charities under review! This is so hypocritical that I can not think of an appropriate response. The following link will take your readers to an important page about charities and their responsibilities vis a vis charity/political involvement. Although it may be true that some NGO’s cross the line politically from time-to-time, most of them are very vigilant and careful not to compromise themselves and their Boards of Directors are quite good at this as well. Too bad the rules don’t seem to apply to the politicians and their parties.


  3. The Doctor says:

    It would be interesting and useful, IMO, if some people could provide some specific examples and/or links to illustrate what Warren is talking about in his post. Targeting well-meaning NGOs in bad faith for partisan political purposes is obviously wrong. But if charitable organizations are in fact violating CRA’s rules with respect to charitable status, then them’s the rules. It’s difficult to comment or form an opinion on what Warren’s talking about without any facts or specific examples to actually chew on.

    • David says:

      Sure, them’s the rules. But them’s also the selective enforcement of said rules for political purposes. And that’s unequal application of the law. Show a pattern, and that’s a violation of the Canadian constitution.

  4. lukev says:

    I’ve heard the Aryan Nation Foundation is next

  5. Tim says:

    There is an erosion of possibilities in public life occurring that is both disquieting and disheartening and I’m not sure that it has anything to do with Liberals and Conservatives. What to do I do not know. My Dad says we need someone like PET to come along and flush the toilet. (his words not mine). It seems our free North American society has some problems which need to be overcome pronto, that’s for sure. People sense that. That’s why the NDP is on fire in my opinion.

  6. Gretschfan says:

    “We need someone to come along and flush the toilet.”
    Tim, I am totally stealing that line!

  7. smelter rat says:

    We’d be better off if they cleaned up all of the bogus corporations that are little more than money laundering institutions.

  8. Cynical says:

    “There are a lot of charities that are bogus.”
    True enough, and usually a simple search of the CCRA web site will reveal them. Not listed = no donation. High admin costs = no donation.
    A real conservative would let me be responsible for making this decision rather than making Yet Another Law.

    There’s a fine line between advocacy of a cause and political action, but Tulk and ilk will be happy to draw it for you, as long as it suits current political needs.

    • dcardno says:

      “A real conservative would let me be responsible for making this decision…”

      You will still have that choice, Cynical. What you won’t have is the opportunity to shift your tax burden on to your fellow citizens because you choose to support a plain lobby group dressed up as a charity.



  9. Phil in London says:

    Why don’t you all forego your tax receipt and you can say what you want when you want? It’s like a kid saying his dad is mean to him after getting his allowance.

  10. ASME says:

    (The Canadian Government) what in all rational thought does that mean? It means a group of people who have been hired by the Canadian public to work on behalf of voting Canadians while they are out working, providing taxes and wages for those politicans in Ottawa to do the ethical work of this nation for which they have been HIRED to do so. It does not mean that a wild idea is to be hidden from the Canadian public while it is being implemented. It means the Canadian public are to be consulted, asked for their permission to do so for example, dismantling the Avro Musuem in secret or making it difficult for the musuem to continue while considering a good ol hockey rink to be erected in its place…..a place where men can beat their brains out why availing themselves the use of health care. This attempt to silence NGO critics by taking away their funding is down right disgusting. What did Jason Kenny just say about freedom of speech? This Government needs to take a good look at their tactics because it aligns with communism. Remember my good fellow….I have the right to free speech in this country and so do NGOs.

    • dcardno says:

      Reviewing or removing charitable status does nothing to affect your freedom of speech, ASME, nor that of any group you support. What it does do is ensure that tax-deductible contributions are not used for overtly political purposes. You will remain entirely free to contribute, and the group in question can continue to pursue political ends.



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