Friday, October 17, 2014

Canada Con Revenue Agency - Birds&Bees vs GunsGunsGuns

The Canada Con Revenue Agency is bothering birdwatchers now. The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists pictured at left (membership-300, annual revenues-$16,000) got a stern letter from the CRA just after they sent a letter to two federal cabinet ministers complaining about government-approved neonicotinoid insecticides that damage bee colonies.

CBC : "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 CRA has a special $13.4 million dollar program to audit political activity in charities, which are restricted to using under 10% of their natural resources for political activities and none for partisan activities.


Yesterday Stephen Harper and 100 invited guests attended a Q&A session hosted by another registered conservation charity - the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (membership over 100,000, snazzy website photo above). 
The OFAH, a wonderful group dedicated to the preservation of all things angled and hunted, has boasted Stephen Harper as keynote speaker at their AGMs. Harper was accompanied yesterday by Con MP Robert Sopuck, founder and chair of the Tory Hunting and Angling Caucus. They discussed *conservation*. I'm guessing bees probably didn't come up.

I wonder if the OFAH ever worries about getting any stern letters regarding partisan/political activity from the CRA.

This year the OFAH received in government funding - $360,100 from the DFO, $67,000 from Jason Kenney's Employment and Social Development Canada, and $6,750 from Environment Canada.

Their lobbying activities for the year 2014 include the DFO, Environment Canada, Dept of Justice/Public Safety, and Transport Canada. Issues lobbied about include : 
  • Indian Act - land claims and intervenor status/funding,
  • Criminal Code and Firearms Act - long gun registry, licensing issues, amnesty, amendments to the Firearms Act and Criminal Code
  • UN Firearms Marking regulations, Destruction of registry records 
  • Canada Food Inspection Act - invasive species
According to their own published list, here's the OFAH's political activities from years past regarding guns and lobbying against gun registries : 
  • Radio campaigns in Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, and London opposing C-68 (a cost of over $100,000);
  • Full-page ads in MacLean's magazine and other consumer magazines opposing the bill;
  • Over $30,000 worth of advertising in major market newspapers opposing the bill;
  • Ads in the Hill Times (media for MP's, Senators, and senior policy makers);
  • Television features about the dangers and costs of the bill;
  • Produced more postcards than any other group in Canada opposing the bill;
  • Generated thousands of names on petitions opposing the bill to the House of Commons;
  • Were successful in lobbying the Ontario government to legally challenge the bill;
  • Helped fund the Alberta court challenge;
  • Provided legal advice to the Alberta Fish and Game Association for their court case;
  • Lobbied, and continue to lobby, individual MP's and individual Senators;
  • Presentations made to both House of Commons and Senate Justice Committees;
  • Package and presentation made to the Ministry of Health Conference "Violence as a Public Health Issue;"
  • Participated in hundreds of media interviews and news releases fighting the bill;
  • Participated in urban phone-in radio shows to educate the public to the dangers of this legislation;
  • Played a lead role in the National Coalition of Provincial and Territorial Wildlife Federations, which also fought the legislation;
  • Sent C-68 information directly to OFAH members, hunter education instructors, and retailers, to encourage them to fight the bill;
  • Principle participants in several public rallies, including Fed Up I and Fed Up II;
  • Produced and distributed over 200,000 "election" bumper stickers;
  • Produced tens of thousands "election" lawn signs;
  • Encouraged OFAH member clubs and OFAH zones to run all-candidates nights;
  • Produced and distributed various information brochures, such as "Bringing You More Facts About Bill C-68," and "Bill C-68 Canada's New Firearms Act;"
  • Continue to produce and post information on our web site and other media sources, including Angler and Hunter Hotline, Call of the Loon, and Hunter Education News;
  • Communications being sent to the legal counsel for the Justice Department;
  • Currently working on further communications with the Chiefs of Police;
  • Met with the Auditor General prior to the release of her report;
  • Met with the federal Solicitor General and urged him to scrape the registry;
  • Developed a firearms motion against the registry which has been passed by 204 municipalities to date;
  • Worked with Opposition parties to question the government;
  • Filed Freedom of Information requests with the Justice Minister;
  • Met with federal Solicitor General to review reasons for canceling registry;
  • Met with Canadian Police Association seeking their support:
  • Met with Peter MacKay, Deputy Federal Conservative Leader;
  • Met with staff from Paul Martin's office urging them to scrap the registry;
  • Met with Prime Minister for two hours to emphasize need to scrap registry
  • Repeated conversations with police unions across Canada - worked with Calgary Police Association to get motion supporting the scrapping of the registry on the floor of Canadian Professional Police Association national meeting;
  • Arranged for Calgary Police Association, who oppose registry, to meet with federal Minister charged with reviewing the registry;
  • OFAH developed and made available to clubs across Ontario lawn signs and bumper stickers against Bill C-68 for use during 2004 federal election;
  • Press release March 14, 2005 after Mountie's killed in Alberta calling for scrapping of the registry;
  • Filing Requests for Information against federal government, various departments, to determine how much money is being funneled towards anti-gun groups;
  • March 2006, OFAH engages in media campaign blowing the whistle on failures in the firearms registry by demonstrating conclusively that the system can be hacked;
  • In total, OFAH issued 8 press releases on firearms in 2005; 8 in 2006, 5 in 2007 and 1 in 2008;
  • In total, OFAH included 7 articles in Hotline in 2005; 13 in 2006 and 6 in 2007 on firearms;
  • In 2006, the OFAH was appointed to a seat on the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee by federal Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day, which they continue to hold.
  • In 2007, the OFAH helped convince the federal government to suspend the hated UN gun marking proposal, resulting in a two year delay in the implementation of the program, with the likelihood that it will be permanently abolished;
  • Fall 2007, OFAH articles and press release in opposition to inspection of older firearms owners in City of Toronto;
  • Through our membership on the CFAC, the OFAH continues to push for a registry of prohibited offenders, instead of a registry of legal firearms owners and is successful in working with other members of the Committee in convincing the government to change the regulations to allow expired POL owners to renew their POLs instead of having to qualify for PALs which many don't want or need (March 2008) - This will benefit over 108,000 firearms owners with expired POLs across the country;
  • March 2008 conference call with CFO and staff over lack of communications with firearms community regarding inspections, ranges, actions of staff, etc. - OFAH gets agreement from CFO for quarterly meetings with OFAH, CSSA and CSAAA, two hosted by CFO, two by OFAH;
  • April 26, 2008 meeting of CFO and representatives from 270 ranges/gun clubs in Barrie - OFAH sending three staff;
  • 2008 - appearance before the City of Toronto Planning Committee on the proposed banning of shooting ranges and clubs from public land;
  • Press releases and campaigns in support of Bills C21 and C24;
  • Press releases and campaigns in support of Bills C301 and S5;
  • Appearance on CTV National in support of bills to scrap long gun registry;
  • Current online national petition with partners and affiliates to scrap the long gun registry;
  • Press release and campaign in support of Bill C-391, newest bill to scrap long gun registry;
  • National online petition in support of Bill C-391 to scrap gun registry;
  • Letters to all police unions in Ontario seeking support for scrapping registry;
  • Three sets of letters to federal MP's urging them to support Bill C-391;
  • Press release against release of firearms information to polling company;
  • Press release against latest Toronto Police Service inspection of legal, law abiding firearms owners;
  • National radio interviews on Corus radio network on both breach of confidentiality by Canadian Firearms Centre and Toronto Police Service inspection of legal, law abiding firearms owners;
  • Prime Minister as keynote speaker at OFAH 81st AGM on scrapping long gun registry;
  • Met with 26 Opposition MP's prior to the vote on Bill C-391, which passed by 164 to 137;
  • Three national panel interviews with CTV, CBC and Goldhawk Live opposite Coalition for Gun Control
  • Part of Prime Minister's Office strategy team on C-391;
  • Appearance before Standing Committee on Public Safety on C-391 anticipated in Spring 2010;
  • Appearance by Candice Hoeppner, M.P., sponsor of Bill C-391 at 82nd OFAH AGM;
  • Canadice Hoeppner and OFAH met with Assembly of First Nations seeking support on bill;
  • Sent letters to all Ontario MP's in March 2010 with 17 page rebuttal to claims made by Coalition for Gun Control;
  • Acting as one of the spokespersons for 27 member group of the Outdoor Network representing 500,000 members across the country;
  • Appearing as a witness at the hearings on Bill C-391, May 2010;
  • Interviews with more than 50 media sources including Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Globe & Mail, National Post;
  • Appeared twice to debate Coalition for Gun Control on CBC National Power & Politics;
  • Appeared twice to debate Coalition for Gun Control on CTV National Powerplay;
  • Appeared on Goldhawk Live to debate Coalition for Gun Control.
  • Appeared on Access Ontario;
  • Appeared on The Agenda on TVO to debate Coalition for Gun Control and Toronto Police Chief;
  • Appeared on Roy Greene show;
  • Appeared on CHCH TV;
  • Appeared on Outdoor Radio Journal;
  • Appeared on CBC Radio Canada;
  • Organized 5 town hall meetings with Candice Hoeppner in northern Ontario ridings;
  • Drafted national online petition presented in Parliament with almost 50,000 signatures;
  • Issued 2011 Federal election questionnaire;
  • 2011 bumper sticker "Scrap the wasteful long gun registry" campaign; and
  • Working with Prime Minister's Office and Public Safety Minister on draft legislation to scrap the long gun registry.
Whew, what a list! Good thing this registered conservation charity never mentioned bees.

But maybe it wasn't just the bees that got the Kitchener-Waterloo birders in trouble.

Last year in October, amid their website news about backyard bird counts and butterfly nature walks and how to build a tiny house from scratch and worries about weakening of the Endangered Species Act, one of them wrote a letter pointing out to the rest of the group that a rupture from the nearby Brantford 38- year-old Enbridge pipeline, newly slated to transport "bitumen" through a "line for which it was not designed", "could result in serious environmental problems".

Well there ya go. They mentioned Enbridge and bitumen. Once.

It's ten years old now but here's a very good article, co-authored by Joyce Arthur, pointing out that the 10% rule for charities is ridiculous given that advocacy for their causes is more effective than just providing services. But as she said way back then : why isn't it evenly applied? Why do gun advocacy charities get a break from Canada Revenue Agency that environmental groups don't? 
“It seems the rules limiting advocacy are more stringently applied to charities who champion environmental protection than to those so-called charities that represent the hunting lobby.”


Lorne said...

Thanks, Alison. You have done your usual excellent job of exposing the corruption and hypocrisy of the regime. Would that more people would realize the egregious and flagrant efforts at suppression of the democratic voice it is guilty of.

the salamander said...

.. might just be the 'post of the year' ..

I must read it again.. and regard the pics..
The incongruity.. the sheer stupidity
of bureaucracy & political idiocy you reveal
just .. I dunno.. makes me smile ..
Love the pic of the birdwatchers.. priceless !

Props to you .. you nailed it..
What an alert & glowing heart Canadian you are.. ! !

tjd said...

Note another reference to OFAH as a friendly outlet for Harper:

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of reporting I expect our media to produce, but all we get are pundits making excuses for Steve.

Evidence plain and simple...perhaps our charities need to take Stephen Harper to court for constitutional breaches. Obviously he is not opposed to charities conducting political activity, right?

Anonymous said...

CBC Fifth Estate's 1991 doc "Canada Park; Park with No Peace" exposes Racist JNF Canada Tax Fraud


What Is the Jewish National Fund? The JNF advertises itself as an Israeli forestry, park and land charity. But what is it really? JNF is Involved in Ethnic Cleansing & Colonization. They steal land and illegally build houses on it for Jews only. Guess who's a big supporter of them.... dat's right... HARPER ‼


Petition – Revoke pro Israel Apartheid Jewish National Fund’s Charitable Status – they are a Racist Organization
Involved in Ethnic Cleansing & Colonization #cdnpoli

Canada Park (a.k.a. Ayalon Canada Park), built in cooperation with the Jewish National Fund, now occupies the site of the villages of Imwas, Yalo and Bayt Nuba, which were were completely destroyed in 1967. Their residents are now refugees in the West Bank and Jordan.


jannx said...

Alison, you've nailed it. Unfortunately CRA are now watching your charitable donations. I'd suggest the best way to ensure CRA won't have to call you or anyone at the KW Field Naturalists group is to vote out the harper/reform/alberta alliance/money party come 2015. I'm going to make every effort I can to help that change occur

Alison said...

Jannx : Then may I suggest you do whatever you can to support and spread the word about this.

Anon@1:28: Excellent doc - posted and blogged about it here for Steve's January visit to Israel.

Anon@10:53 : It's up to us, I think, to learn to wade through the stenography and just treat it like what it is - in-house advertising.
OTOH, look at these great promedia stories from the last few days from Postmedia, G&M, Toronto Star respectively:

Maher: Stephen Harper and the ‘merchant of venom’

Mr. Baird, how are Saudi Arabia’s beheadings different from Islamic State’s?

Author Michael Harris’s new book is a takedown of Stephen Harper

tjd : Thanks. Also Bruce Cheadle really nails Steve's funder number at OFAH while the G&M just stenos it in.

Lorne, Salamander : You guys are so nice to me ... Hope I didn't embarrass the KW birders.
A point not to be missed here and I didn't stress it enough - re the last link in the post - is that a lot of this guns over environment advocacy permitted by the CRA predates Harper.

Also I'd be interested to know where the hell the OFAH anglers were when Harper was gutting protection for 99% of our inland waters last year?
And do they still try to donate NRA material to school libraries?

Anonymous said...

When I do a search of the GOC website of federally registered lobbyist will I find The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists? That same search will show that the OFAH is a registered lobby. I'm also against neonicotinoid insecticides, but I believe the OFAH is operating within the tax laws, KWFN is not.

Don't vilify a group dedicated to conservation for going about things the right way. Leearn how to do it yourselves.

Alison said...

Anon@4:07 : Really? You think a 300-member birdwatchers group should have to register with the government as a lobby group so they can write them a letter about bees or have someone come and speak to their group about the environment?
Where's your sense of proportion?

Half of the political-activity audits in 2012-2013 were conducted on environmental groups who oppose something about government energy/conservation policies. Half.

The CRA says it gets its cases from leads received from the public. Ethical Oil has boasted they have sent them plenty of *leads*.
But do big Harper/tarsands support think tanks like Fraser Institute, C.D. Howe Institute, and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute get audited for their very public political activities? No they do not.

In February Jim Flaherty responded to a question about why the CRA is auditing charities that oppose tarsands pipeline projects by saying "charities are not permitted to accept money from terrorist organizations."
In July the charity Oxfam got a CRA letter telling them "preventing poverty" is not a valid goal for their tax purposes as a charity.

It's advocacy chill, pure and simple.

scotty on denman said...

Your reportage is excellent, Alison, but it eventually enraged me to incoherence---the only antidote for which has been a refreshing swim in the swirling, black&white pool of a certain Eastern philosophy: what exactly is the nature of partisanship? With regard to your sterling research, how is "partisan activity" defined?

While it's OK if it doesn't make sense, it's not OK if it's a basis for punishment.

Anonymous said...

Holly Stick here:

The Broadbent Institute just put out a report on CRA and the political activities of various charities (including right-leaning ones which claim to have done no political activities at all, at all)

The report concludes there is evidence of biased scrutiny by CRA; and questions how honest the right-leaning reporting is:

The Mound of Sound said...

Alison. This is brilliant. Thanks so much.

Have you asked CRA to respond or would you rather not have a visit from the Tax Stasi at 3 a.m.?

I wonder how many visits CRA auditors make to Christian fundamentalist congregations Sunday mornings?

Alison said...

Scotty : The swirling black and white pools of most Eastern philosophies would say the nature of partisanship is ego, and there is certainly a strong case to be made aside from those philosophies that push only produces pushback. I like to think that blogs like mine are necessary pushback to Harper push.
According to the working def. at the CRA, "political activities" are “any activity that tries to change, retain, or oppose a law, decision, or policy of any government” - which is frankly ridiculous as any charity not doing that is also not doing its job. "Partisan" activities are plugging for the election or ouster of specific parties or politicians.
"While it's OK if it doesn't make sense, it's not OK if it's a basis for punishment"
Excellent point.

HollyStick : Saw that, working on post expanding on it. Occurs to me that possibly merely checking the *No* box for political activity might be sufficient to preclude a CRA audit if you're a rw think-and-do tank.

Mound : Meanwhile, while Con Minister of National Revenue Kerry Lynne Findlay stands in the House to insist the CRA audits are "an arms length exercise done by professional public service", Harper is telling the OFAH that "his own federal bureaucracy is trying to bring back the long gun registry "through the back door."

h/t Bruce Cheadle

Anonymous said...

Over the years, the OFAH has taken on the government on many different environmental issues. They are far more than just a gun or fishing lobby. My main point is that they are obviously under the microscope too. Otherwise you wouldn't be talking about them.

For whatever reason, it seems that you have no love for a group that is supported by hunters and fishermen. You are not alone in this dislike. It would be surprising to me to find out that OFAH has not been reported to CRA by some of the folks out there that don't like them. This group includes gun owners that feel that OFAH is a sell out organization to other shooting sports that exist in Canada. If they are following the rules, they have nothing to worry about.

As for KWFN, they need to learn to play with in the rules too. If their butts are covered, attention from CRA should not be an issue. I feel that KWFN is right about bees, and should continue to pursue their goals. but they have to operate smartly. It would have been wiser for them to approach a group like Ducks Unlimited or OFAH to share their concerns. These groups understand the importance of bees contributions to the environment. OFAH is a conservation group. They would have most likely have been on your side. I'm a member of OFAH. I'm on your side. OFAH has the resources and the ear of government. They will have the ear of a Trudeau government as well.

I would also like to point out that Ethical oil will have the same ear of a Trudeau Government too if he is elected. Lets not fool ourselves about the fact that Trudeau is just a politician. The Tar sands are not going anywhere under a Trudeau government.

Anonymous said...

Holly Stick:

I suspect they justify checking the No box by claiming their activities are educational, not political.

But we know "Ethical Oil" made complaints against the environment organizations; I hope someone is making formal complaints against the Fraser Institute & its ilk. To know, we would need transparency from CRA.

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