The Federal government has shut down the program within the CRA that had been mandated by the previous government to carry out audits of the political activities of charities. This decision has been welcomed within the nonprofit and charitable sector sector as a positive step.

The Mandate Letter from the Prime Minister to the Minister of Revenue stated:

Allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment, and modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors, working with the Minister of Finance.  This will include clarifying the rules governing “political activity,” with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy.  A new legislative framework to strengthen the sector will emerge from this process.  

This should also include work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to develop a Social Finance and Social Enterprise strategy.

This represents a first step and the sector will be interested to know how the direction to “modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors” will be undertaken. Jurisdictions around the world (Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand) have already taken on this task with, generally, much broader definitions of “charity” emerging.

Pearl Eliadis, our guest speaker on January 19th at our 5th Anniversary celebration, spoke in considerable detail about these issues and her presentation materials will be made available on this website in the near future.

For more information see the article by Carol Goar, The Star, at: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2016/01/20/charity-chill-melts-under-friendly-government-goar.html . Also see “On the Mend” by Lisa Lalande, The Mowat Centre, for a discussion of the need for modernization of the rules and an updated legislative framework for charities and nonprofits.

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