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 :
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.”