A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Naturalists Targeted by Canada Revenue Agency

First they came for the environmentalists and the activists. Then they came for the scientists.
Then they came for those who fight poverty, and help the poor. Now they’ve come for the birdwatchers.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, a registered charity, is apparently at risk of breaking tax agency rules that limit so-called political or partisan activities. Earlier this year, tax auditors sent a letter to the 300-member group, warning about political material on the group's website. The stern missive says the group must take appropriate action as necessary "including refraining from undertaking any partisan activities," with the ominous warning that "this letter does not preclude any future audits."
The letter arrived just after the club had written directly to two federal cabinet ministers to complain about government-approved chemicals that damage bee colonies.
"You can piece together the timing," said Roger Suffling, a member of the group and an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo. "The two things are very concurrent."

IF writing to a minister about a concern you or you group has about chemical use and environmental concerns trigger this kind of response, whether directed by the Minister or simply considered by the CRA as a political activity, then we are in big trouble. Perhaps all charities need to register as a political party who are exempt from such rules on political activity but can issue tax receipts and perhaps the CRA should be investigated for 'political activity'!

The Canada Revenue Agency launched a special program of so-called political activity audits after Budget 2012 provided $8 million for the project, later topped up to $13.4 million. Canada Revenue Agency officials say they do not target any one charitable sector, and are choosing groups impartially, without input from the minister's office.

They are 'choosing groups impartially' and yet a seemingly disproportionate of charities and groups who have openly voiced concerns about scientific and environmental issues have been 'targeted', but it would seem very few who are clearly very active on 'political issues' but are supportive of the Harper Regimes agenda have been threatened. Just a coincidence or just random luck, I don’t think so!

"Reminder letters” are issued to some groups to warn that Canada Revenue Agency analysts have been watching their political activities, and may launch full audits if things aren't rectified. So far, 23 such letters have been issued, including to the Kitchener-Waterloo group, though the agency won't say exactly which groups are on the list, citing the confidentiality provisions of the Income Tax Act.

Readers may visit the Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists web site and decide for themselves if this threat from the CRA was justified, I urge folks to support this and similar groups with both your moral support and your donation whilst you can still get a charitable tax receipt from any non profit organization who dares to question the ongoing attack by government decree upon science and the environment.

EDIT - Alison at Creeside shows exactly how selective these audits are

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Simon said...

hi Rural...thanks for linking to my post. It really is shocking how the CRA could threaten a group of birdwatchers so crudely. But it does tell you how low that Con government has fallen. And we can use it against them. When we do evict the Harperites the CRA is going to have some explaining to do, because their bias is only too obvious. I also wonder whether individuals who speak out against the Cons will also be audited. I'm not worried about myself, because there isn't much to audit. ;) But it would bother me if that happens, because as I said in my post, when a government does that we're no longer living in a democracy. BTW have you seen Alison's post?


After reading that it should be clear to everyone that something is terribly wrong. We really can't get rid of those Harperite bullies soon enough...

Rural said...

Although our presentation may be a little different Simon, our opinion of the Harper Regime is much the same. We must keep their duplicity in the public eye until they are history.

I will add link to Alisons post in the post, it does indeed make it quite clear that certain groups are exempt from this witch hunt.

Lorne said...

Perhaps it has something to do with my upbringing in the Catholic school system Rural, but I have always had a visceral response to bullies and dictators. I am convinced that if enough Canadians can be made aware of the autocracy that defines the Harper regime, we can oust this debaser of democracy. We all have a role to play in getting the word out.

Rural said...

The evidence that they have no respect for democracy is overwhelming Lorne, all we can can do is keep putting the information in front of our citizens and hope that they see where this regime is taking us.