Liberals wind down controversial political audits of charitable groups

The Liberal government says it is winding down a controversial Conservative program of political-activity audits on charities.

OTTAWA — The Liberal government says it is winding down a controversial Conservative program of political-activity audits on charities.

Some 24 ongoing audits will continue in an effort to address any “serious deficiencies” that are found, Federal Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said Wednesday in a news release.

But six other charities previously targeted for examination won’t get audited, and five organizations that previously had their charitable status revoked are being invited to appeal.

“The results of the political activities audit program have shown that the charities audited have been substantially compliant with the rules regarding their involvement in political activities,” Lebouthillier said in the release.

“In light of these outcomes, the program will be concluded.”

The former Conservative government committed a total of $13.4 million since 2012 to auditing political activity by groups that do charitable work, including a number of environmental and international aid organizations.

The time-consuming audit program prompted critics to accuse the government of launching a politically motivated witch hunt, while the Liberals described the audits as “political harassment.”

Registered charities are permitted to devote a maximum of 10 per cent of their resources to “political activities,” while at the same time being forbidden from engaging in any partisan political behaviour. But the rules governing what constitutes political activity are unclear and poorly understood by charities.

Oxfam Canada, for instance, was required by the tax agency to change its mission statement to focus on alleviating poverty rather than preventing it, because poverty prevention is apparently considered a political activity.

The Liberal government news release made no mention of changing or clarifying the definition of political activity by charities, although the Liberals promised to do so during the election campaign.

The revenue minister’s mandate letter states one of Lebouthillier’s priorities is to “modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors.”

Lebouthillier instead stressed Wednesday the independence of the revenue agency’s charities directorate, while stating she has asked it to “further clarify the rules.”

Just Posted

Man from Olds killed in collision near Sundre

A 39-year-old man from Olds was killed in a collision near Sundre… Continue reading

Tips to keep crime at bay this Christmas

’Tis the season for joy and celebration, but the Christmas season can… Continue reading

Olympic ski run designer creates upgrades at Canyon Ski Resort

Jeff Ihaksi says free-style and alpine ski venues are Canada Winter Games-worthy

Updated: Collision expert backs version of crash of driver accused of manslaughter

Daniel Newsham accused of manslaughter in fatal 2016 collision

WATCH: More than 100 protest UN migration pact, carbon tax in Red Deer

Chants of “Trudeau must go” echoed through the streets of downtown Red… Continue reading

Tkachuk’s goal in 3rd gives Flames 2-1 win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Matthew Tkachuk scored the go-ahead goal midway through… Continue reading

Women use scent to lure wolf-dog that ran away from Calgary airport

EDMONTON — A woman from Alberta is thanking an unconventional strategy for… Continue reading

Suspect in Alberta, Saskatchewan bank robberies to get mental assessment

MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — A former Winnipeg broadcaster and journalism instructor accused… Continue reading

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau says his government hopes to make legal changes… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $60 million jackpot… Continue reading

All evacuation orders lifted in deadly California wildfire

PARADISE, Calif. — All evacuation orders have been lifted in Paradise more… Continue reading

All aflutter about our feathered friends

Christmas Bird Count will be held Dec. 23

Baylor ties pervade rape case that sparked uproar

DALLAS — The Texas judge who approved a plea deal allowing a… Continue reading

Most Read