All rejoice! There will be a Mean Girls 3, but it starts and it will star none other than Stephen Harper and a group of Canadian charities. Well, not really, but it seems as though Prime Minister Harper is getting in the character of a sixteen year old girl who had pictures of herself in braces and head gear put in every locker at school by members of the rival clique.
Harper began his method acting by granting the Canadian Revenue Agency an additional $5 million through 2017 to continue and broaden their audits of Canadian charities. Some 52 charity audits are already underway, and some have stretched out for more than two years, suspending these organizations’ ventures and draining their funding. “It’s nerve-racking,” said Leilani Farha, executive director of Canada Without Poverty, a small charity based in Ottawa, “We’ve been under audit for more than two years, and it just goes on and on, with no communication… It’s a huge drain on the resources of our organization.”
A study done by Gareth Kirkby, a former journalist and graduate student in communications, found evidence that three specific charitable sectors are being singled out: environment, development, and human rights. Some notable charities under audit include Amnesty International Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty, and the United Church of Canada’s Kairos charity. The study suggests that Harper is using the CRA to suffocate charities in disagreement with his own political agenda.
Robert Fox, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada, is up in arms with CRA’s decision to prohibit charities to use “preventing poverty” as goal in their mission statement. This is the most recent rousing of school drama elicited by the Conservative Government—the last one being Harper totally stealing Fox’s prom dress. Oxfam Canada’s initial mission statement read, “to prevent and relieve poverty, vulnerability and suffering by improving the conditions of individuals whose lives, livelihood, security or well-being are at risk.” The CRA informed the charity that, “preventing poverty was not a acceptable goal,” and that, “Relieving poverty is charitable, but preventing it is not…Preventing poverty could mean providing for a class of beneficiaries that are not poor.” Fox described the exchange as an “absurd conversation.”
No, you see, an “absurd conversation” is how you describe the conversation with your friend who likes the new Star Wars trilogy better than the original because of the effects. The government telling a charity it can no longer say it prevents poverty is about as outrageous as a car rental company that doesn’t know how to hold reservations. The CRA prevailed and Oxfam Canada had to drop and any reference of “preventing poverty” from its mission statement, but has yet to undergo a political-activities audit.
With his competition gutted and Queen of Campus status unquestionable, Prime Minister Harper has shown us one thing: in the unforgiving hallways of Canadian Politics High, nothing is more morally sound than demonizing charitable organization. Biatch.