Wednesday, October 22, 2014

RevCan : From Hayek to birdwatchers

The Broadbent Institute released a study yesterday suggesting Canada Con Revenue Agency tax auditors are targeting critics of the Harper government about their allotted 10% political activities while letting right-leaning groups off the hook. How very timely.

David Akin
"The group reviewed tax filings of 10 right-leaning charities, including the Fraser Institute, the Montreal Economic Institute, and Focus on the Family, and found that in each of the past three tax years, none of them declared spending anything on political activity."
Say, what? Focus on the FamilySpankingGaysAbortion Canada has forsworn all political lobbying out of their $9.4M mansion of many rooms in Langley,BC? When did that happen? Must have been some time after FotF CEO Darrel Reid left them to become Steve's director of policy and deputy chief of staff in the PMO from 2007 til 2010, followed up by his two year stint as VP of the Manning Centre. Easy enough to overlook FotF's public support in 2013 for Mark Warawa's abortion reach-around I guess. 

And Charles McVety's Institute for Canadian Values? No political activity there at all last year : 
“We, the undersigned, appeal to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Minister of Justice, Peter MacKay, to create legislation to protect our country’s little boys and girls from the horrors of prostitution.” 
they said in a petition protesting the Supremes having shot down previous anti-prostitution legislation. There was also another petition and presser to protest against Christian schools being forced to have "homosexual clubs" if anti-bullying legislation was passed.

Who else we got in the "No political activities" check box ?

Fraser Institute : Political activities? Ha ha ha ha.

Energy Probe Research Foundation? Hey, that's the tanky run by National Post columnist Lawrence Solomon!  Self-described as “one of Canada's leading environmentalists”, Mr. Solomon wrote a book called "The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud" based on his many denier NaPo articles.
Broadbent Institute quotes EPRF :
“Energy Probe was one of only two ‘pressure’ groups cited by the inaugural edition of The Canadian Encyclopedia for being effective in influencing our country’s policies. …EPRF also influences policy decisions. Our views are heard by provincial and federal legislative committees, environmental assessment boards, and other regulatory agencies when we testify at hearings on a wide variety of pressing issues.”
Macdonald-Laurier Institute : New kids on the block and Hayek devotee Brian Lee Crowley's other venue. Reducing business taxes, reducing government spending, privatizing the healthcare system, and "working toward a common security perimeter with the United States". Jim Flaherty did them a start-up fundraiser in 2010.

Montreal Economic Institute. Teamed up with the Fraser Institute a few years back to co-sponsor "International Leadership by a Canada Strong and Free", written by Mike Harris and Preston Manning :
" no reason to avoid action on our urgent national interest in pursuing a formal structure to manage irreversible economic and security integration with the United States."

As it happens, five of those ten think tanks the Broadbent Institute says the CRA is averting its eyes from - the Fraser Institute, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, the MacDonald Laurier Institute, the Frontier Center for Public Policy, and the Montreal Economic Institute - all receive funding from Peter Munk of Barrick Gold through his Aurea Foundation. The heads of those 5 tanks are all members of the Mont Pelerin Society,  aka Hayek's "dealerships" , or what Donald Gutstein explains as the think tanks that repackage neo-liberal ideas for easy public consumption through a media chain: 
  • Michael Walker, founding Senior Fellow of the Koch-funded Fraser Institute; 
  • Brian Lee Crowley, founding President of Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute;
  • Peter Holle, President of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy;
  • Michel Kelly Gagnon, CEO of the Montreal Economic Institute

Now I know what you're thinking - Jeez, Alison, a grand unified field theory conspiracy of birdwatching and Hayek? Is the Mont Pelerin Society going to become the new Bilderberg boogieman? Birds of a neo-liberal or libertarian feather flock and fund together - so what? 
Well, given that Harper has shuttered research stations, closed science libraries, muzzled scientists and public servants, gutted StatsCan, frozen FOI requests, and sidelined Parliament, his own MPs, and the national press -- given all that, if he is also successful at chilling out any organized charity opposition in the public sphere, then Hayek's so-called "dealerships" will be one step closer to entirely pwning promedia for forming public opinion.

My own theory? Whereas the rw tankies all marked the box "political activities" with "0%", the birdwatchers et al dutifully filled theirs in - making life just that much easier on CRA auditors.

FYI - Here's the CRA's guidelines for what constitutes political activities :
  • i. explicitly communicates a call to political action (that is, encourages the public to contact an elected representative or public official and urges them to retain, oppose, or change the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country);
  • ii. explicitly communicates to the public that the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country should be retained (if the retention of the law, policy or decision is being reconsidered by a government), opposed, or changed; or
  • iii. explicitly indicates in its materials (whether internal or external) that the intention of the activity is to incite, or organize to put pressure on, an elected representative or public official to retain, oppose, or change the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country.
  • iv. explicitly no bees
Ok, so I made that last one up.


Anonymous said...

Once again, another great post. I fear that after yesterdays events we are going to have more rights stripped away and another round of shady secretive legislation rammed through parliament. And if anyone criticises any of it they are going to be labeled as being "with the terrorists." I really hope i'm wrong..

Alison said...

I hope you are too. I was very heartened however, given the immediately hysterical and then later glurgy media coverage, that so many people spoke to exactly those concerns almost immediately. We are learning/adapting faster. Rather then repeat myself again here, have a look at my response to Bob in my next post.

e.a.f. said...

perhaps if harper and his herd had more money spent on the mentally ill, we wouldn't have had the shooting in Ottawa this week. But no, harper and his herd put $13M into "auditing" what he thought would shut up his political enemies.

harper and his herd will stop at nothing to achieve their agendas. We all ought to recall his comment: when he was through with Canada, we wouldn't recognize it. He is doing just as he promised.

He now has his election issue and just watch him use the debate in the house of Commons in attack ads against the other parties who voted not to sent Armed Forces personnel to the middle east.

The M.P.s, when they thought they were under threat where able to stay in locked rooms with police protection. The First Nations women of this country, not so much.

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