Saturday, July 26, 2014

How To Stop Stephen Harper's Use of The CRA As An Instrument Of Terror: The Beginnings Of A Plan



Lately I have been writing some posts on Stephen Harper's reign of terror, his relentless attacks on charities that oppose his agenda. Groups as diverse as the United Church of Canada, Oxfam, and PEN Canada have fallen victim to this vindictive miscreant, undergoing audits thanks to the Prime Minister's misuse of the CRA as his chief weapon. The more I read and learn about this egregious and contemptible misuse of power, the more upset and angry I become, given that this strikes at the heart of one of our most treasured freedoms, the right of free speech. I have been thinking about ways to try to combat this reign, but that is perhaps the subject of another post.

For now, let me direct you to a piece written by Professor Edward Jackson of Carleton University. Entitled Why The CRA Is No Longer An Effective Instrument of Public, the essay offers an effective overview of the arrant hypocrisy of the regime that claims to be ensuring the sanctity of taxpayer dollars through its zealous mission of ferreting out 'abuse' by nonprofits holding charitable status:

Its campaign of vexatious audits of the political activities of progressive charities has created a chill in political dissent, and is a new low even for the Conservative regime.

At the same time, CRA's Minister is musing about requiring charities to provide lists of their donors (in fact, this information is already available in the system, but you get the drift of the political messaging here). And there are even reports that, under the cover of the courts, the CRA can't qualify poverty reduction as a charitable objective. At a time of high unemployment in many parts of the country, rising income inequality and more, what could be more preposterous than disqualifying poverty reduction?


But that's not all.

Around the time of the ramping up of the campaign against the NGOs, the CRA actually cut hundreds of auditors who had been working on criminal investigations, special enforcement and voluntary disclosure programs.


What encourages me about Professor Jackson's article is that he goes on to suggest some specific measures we can all participate in before this hateful and vindictive regime is ousted:

1) Express solidarity with the charities that are targeted for political audits by taking out memberships and making donations.

2) Support the building of a coalition against the political audits and for a court challenge to the government.

3) Prepare questions for the Minister and leadership of the CRA as to who made the critical decisions over the past few years, and why -- on the charities issue, and also on the criminal investigations issue.

4) Develop a plan for completely overhauling the unit that deals with charities.

5) And work with the opposition parties on a detailed, post-2015 plan for rebuilding Canada's tax agency into an institution of which Canadians, including its own staff, will once again be proud.


As he says, at least it is a start, and we can well imagine that with the participation of enough Canadians of goodwill and passion, it could well gain momentum just in time for Harper's rendezvous with the electorate next year.

6 comments:

  1. Lorne, I must admit that I had to look up for CRA as to what it stands for.

    It is horrendous. The only charities Harper and Co. believe in is rich and big corporation who receive corporate welfare (taxpayers money) to help them out.

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  2. Lorne, on the topic of Israel I came across this. This lady is Jewish. I thought you may be interested.

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    1. Thanks, LD. I shall check it out.

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  3. You know, this is how First Nations have been treated for decades, so I'll share what usually happens to First Nations.
    Audits aren't the end. They're a means.
    A First Nations band which is getting uppity, i.e. publicly complaining about not getting properly funded or complaining about interference, will get audited.
    The auditor, that bribe-able one from the USA, Delasomething, will find in its report what the government asked for it to find.
    The government, using the fictitious audit as an excuse, will force the uppity First Nations band to take on the expense of the audit, and then force the uppity First Nations band to take on the expense of a private for-profit third-party firm, which will do what the band used to do for a third or a quarter of the cost.
    So, from experience, expect more than the audits. Expect the government to slide its own people into these charities, by using the audits as its reasons: "Oh, these charities are improperly run! They need experience from the private sector in order to do as they're supposed to!"
    Something like that.

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    1. Thanks for the historical perspective, Troy. In today's (Wednesday) Toronto Star, the vilification you talk about is indeed taking place, as the Harper regime, under the new First Nations Financial Transparency Act, is making public the salaries of band chiefs:

      “Everything points to (an attempt) to build on the propaganda that aboriginal governments are dishonest,” said Ghislain Picard, interim chief of the Assembly of First Nations, in an interview.

      Here is the link to the story: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/07/29/disclosure_of_first_nations_salaries_raises_eyebrows.html

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