Report of the Consultation Panel
With the release of the Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities, we can see the direction Canada is going. Below is a brief summary on the good, bad, and neutral revisions the Consultation Panel is advising.
- The Panel recommends that the CRA should revise its policy to remove the requirement that a charity’s materials must reflect all sides of the argument
- The Panel recommends that amendments retain the prohibition on charities’ engaging in “partisan political activities”, with the inclusion of “elected officials”
- This restricts our free speech even more than before by prohibiting charities to support a political party, candidate for public office, or a current elected official! Only charities have this restriction placed on their free speech. We are treated like we are second class citizens.
- In regard to the current political activities reporting requirement, the Panel recommends that the quantitative approach be replaced with a qualitative approach. In pther words, charities would not be required to track and report a percentage of resources expended on their political activities; however, they would be required to describe these and articulate how they further their charitable purposes.
- This is not necessary because the main issue is the restriction of free speech churches face (the prohibition on partisan speech). Charities are first and foremost a charity, so the 10% allocation of money to political activities is an understandable restriction and does not need to be revised.
Read full report here.
Consultation Process Launched
The Minister of National Revenue launched a consultation process with the charitable sector and the public to assist in clarifying the rules for the participation of charities in political activities, and announced the creation of a Panel to provide recommendations using feedback from the consultations.
The Canada Revenue Agency has committed to providing a formal response to the Panel’s recommendations by June, 2017.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a Mandate Letter to Ms. Lebouthillier, the Minister of National Revenue, asking her to work with the Minister of Finance to modernize the legislation governing the charitable sector.
In the letter it reads: “Allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment, and modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors, working with the Minister of Finance. This will include clarifying the rules governing “political activity,” with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy. A new legislative framework to strengthen the sector will emerge from this process. This should also include work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to develop a Social Finance and Social Enterprise strategy.”
Liberal Party’s Platform Promise
During Justin Trudeau’s campaign, the Liberal Party promised the following:
“We will allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment, and will modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-forprofit sectors. This will include clarifying the rules governing ‘political activity,’ with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy. A new legislative framework to strengthen the sector will emerge from this process.”