Who does Canada Revenue Agency work for?

It is law that you cannot be a registered charity and indulge in strictly political activities. Back when that law was passed by a Liberal government, it was met with laughter in some quarters and the charities just carried on as before. With most health charities, it was easy to show that the political activities undertaken were part of your patient services and health research objectives. It comes as a shock today to hear that the Canada Revenue Agency is auditing environmental charities that are fighting tar sands pollution.

And what is even more shocking is that a non-profit organization called Ethical Oil is lodging the complaints about environmental organizations. We will wait for an audit before making any accusations but we can only assume that this organization is heavily funded by tar sands exploitation companies.

But the frightening news is that the Conservative government gave Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) $8 million last year to go after charities engaged in excessive political activities. (And bear in mind that they only investigate when somebody makes a complaint.) This money was buried in one of those omnibus budget bills and is putting the impartiality of the CRA in a bad light. There is a chicken and egg problem here. Did the government provide the funds first or did the Ethical Oil Organization make the complaints first. Since the actions are on top of each other, the conclusion is obvious.

At a time when every other aspect of CRA’s work for Canadians was being short changed, the government gave the agency these investigative funds. You hardly need to be suspicious to connect the dots in this situation.

Many of the major environmental agencies have been concerned about the exploitation of Canada’s Athabasca tar sands region. People are absolutely dumfounded by the range of pollutants, gasses and heavy metals washed out of tar sands bitumen. These are left in huge open tailings ponds in the tar sands area to gradually evaporate and pollute the air and soil. Bitumen itself is a soup of chemicals bound in a viscous tar. To move it requires dilution with a polymer or light oil. That enables it to be poured into a rail car or fed through a pipeline. When it is refined to create synthetic oil, it sends tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere as well as leaving tonnes of bitumen coke to be burned or buried.

The charities being investigated have been drawing attention to this pollution.

Charitable organizations work on trust. When you are being audited, donations tend to wane. A lot of charges are being made against them and if you tie up the resources of the charity while they fight these allegations, you have effectively put them out of business.

Now, who would want to do that?

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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