By Matthew Millar,
A flicker of hesitation crossed Finance Minister Jim Flaherty‘s face as he paused to formulate a response to a question that many have been asking since last year: why is the federal government focusing its financial audits on charities that oppose oil pipeline projects?
When he responded to the Vancouver Observer, he almost appeared to lump environmental advocacy groups in the same category as charities funded by terrorism.
“We don’t choose who is audited by the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). That’s up to the CRA,” Flaherty said. “We do give policy direction; and one of the policy directions is that charities are not to be permitted to accept money from terrorist organizations, in Canada”.
Flaherty then began explaining that the CRA is cracking down on terrorist financing through charities, and on groups accepting money from countries listed as a supporter of terrorism, such as Iran and Syria.
He did not mention that of the 1 per cent of charities that the CRA audits to verify if they spend over a tenth of its budget on ‘political activities’, seven major environmental organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence have been targeted for auditing. If the CRA rules that these charities have surpassed the 10 per cent limit, they could have their charitable status revoked and be shut down.