May 4th was a great day for Canadian free speech. The Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities was published and the Minister of National Revenue decided to put an end to the political audits and harassment of charities.
The report recently published by the Minister of National Revenue, following pressure from several groups and tens of thousands of citizens like you, put an end to costly political activity audits from the federal government. Started in the Harper era, these audits pursued charities notably by severely restricting their political activities. The restrictions imposed on charities, while Canadian corporations have no limits on their political activity, limited Canadian free speech by denying citizens the right to freely express themselves through the charities they support that serve to voice their concerns to decision-makers and participate actively in the development of public policy that contributes to building a better Canada.
"The suspension of political audits, which in some cases lasted for six years, finally takes away a sword of Damocles that hung over the heads of environmental and social groups" (...) "These audits cost taxpayers millions of dollars and didn’t serve the public interest," said Sidney Ribaux, director general of Équiterre, in the press release issued with a coalition of prominent Canadian organizations: Amnesty International, Asthma Society of Canada, B.C. Humanist, Canadian Public Health Association, Centre for Free Expression (Ryerson University), CPAWS, Ecojustice, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence Canada, Équiterre, Greenpeace Canada, Imagine Canada, Ivey Foundation, KAIROS Canada, Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, Oxfam-Québec, Policy Alternatives, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Steel Workers Humanity Fund, Table des regroupements provinciaux d'organismes communautaires et bénévoles, Voices-Voix, West Coast Environmental Law, Wilderness Committee and WWF Canada.
Our Voices Were Heard
The expert panel report includes most of the recommandations of Canadian charities that were shared during the public consultations launched in the Fall of 2016. This is a critical shift that will make space for charities in Canada to do the crucial work they do best in your name, on issues like health, the environment, social justice and poverty.
With your help, we will ensure that the experts’ recommendations be enshrined in the Canadian law. These archaic laws from the 17th century must be modernized, as was done by England, Scotland, Australia and other countries.
Our joint actions were crucial to protect freedom of speech. This huge step in the right direction could not have happened without the support of citizens who spread the word, participated in the campaign and signed the letter asking the government to modernize the law to protect Canadians’ right to be heard through the charities they support.