CBC reported on February 6th that since 2012 the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) “has conducted additional review activities focused on political activities. Audits are being conducted in addition to our regular audit activities, and will include charities from across the entire spectrum of charitable activity”. Chief among the targets are environmental groups, including Environmental Defence, the David Suzuki Foundation, Tides Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, the Pembina Foundation, and Equiterre and the Ecology Action Centre. If the CRA determines that an organization has directed more than 10% of its resources to political activities, the organization loses its status as a “non-profit”, and would be subject to taxation, and its donors would lose the ability to claim tax exemptions for their donations. According to Inside Climate News, the audits were triggered by complaints from a group called Ethical Oil, which was co-founded in 2011 by Alykhan Velshi after he left a job in the government of Stephen Harper. Mr. Velshi has since left Ethical Oil and is now the director of issues management for Prime Minister Harper.
Mark Winfield of York University has written a thoughtful blog, pointing out the dangers of these CRA audits, at:marksw.blog.yorku.ca/2014/02/11/five-functions-of-non-governmental-organizations-in-a-democratic-society/