Federal audits crush crucial debate [charitable organizations]

Posted on July 13, 2014 in Governance Debates

TheStar.com – Opinion/Readers’ Letters
Jul 13 2014.   Richard Murri,

Re: Charities feel ‘chill’ as tax audits widen, July 11

The Conservative government is attempting to silence charitable organizations that are critical of its policies by using extremely intrusive and intimidating audits.

First, the Harper government eliminated funding to organizations with whom they disagreed. Dozens of human rights, anti-poverty, women’s and policy research organizations were wiped out, or survive as pale shadows of their former selves.

Then the Harperites went after unions, trying to block their ability to advocate for measures that benefit their members as well as the broader Canadian society.

Now they are going after charitable organizations that have been critical of their policies. Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, the CCPA and Canada Without Poverty to name just a few.

By conducting long drawn-out audits, the federal government is trying to put a chill on the activities of these organizations and divert them from their important work. Using the threat of losing charitable status to intimidate and silence critics is something you would expect in Putin’s Russia not Stephen Harper’s Canada.

There are more than 80,000 charities in Canada. The targeting of a certain few is no coincidence. These audits are intended to create a climate of fear. The chill they are causing is putting in jeopardy the free debate of important issues, a debate that is crucial to a healthy democracy.

The Conservative government’s silencing of opposition extends well beyond civil society organizations. Harper has sabotaged Statistic Canada’s data collection ability, gutted scientific research and muzzled scientists, attacked the CBC, and gotten rid of a “troublesome” parliamentary budget officer. The attacks extend to attacking the integrity of the well-respected Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The question for all Canadians must be: how much longer will we continue to allow this government to attack everything that has made Canada an example of a working democracy to the world?

Richard Murri, Niagara Falls

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