After allegations of bias, the Canada Revenue Agency maintains that it was just the hand of fate (and not the hand of Stephen Harper) that five of the ten charities audited by the agency in 2012-2013 were environmental groups in conflict with the Harper government’s energy policies.
“What position a charity might take on any given issue, what views they might have, what perspective they have on a particular policy issue, isn’t really of concern to us — and isn’t a triggering factor,” said Head of Charities directorate, Cathy Hawara in an interview with the Canadian Press.
Yet when Ms. Hawara was asked the same question by the Globe and Mail last month, her response was literally the exact opposite of what she just said: “We also gave consideration to … what you might call political leanings, to make sure that we weren’t only focusing on one side of the political spectrum.” She now maintains that she was misquoted.
Based on Ms. Hawara’s second statement, the first round of CRA audits focused less on the actual financial practices of the charities, and more on cherry-picking based on political views, in an attempt not to seem biased. In this case, the whole purpose of the CRA would be lost, as it places a duty to be unbiased above any actual financial investigation.
The CRA investigates charities that use more than 10% of their funds on political or partisan activity. Even if last-month’s Cathy Hawara was wrong, and political leanings are not a factor in selecting agencies to audit, the CRA will investigate complaints from lobby groups, citizens, lobby groups MPs, and lobby groups.
It’s hard to argue that the list of audited charities doesn’t have a conservative bias, but if the bias isn’t coming from the government, then it could be coming from lobby groups. EthicalOil.org, a conservative group that promotes the use of Canadian oil over foreign sources, issued formal complaints for 3 of the 5 environmental charities audited.
And to further support this random coincidence (and totally not a biased investigation) these investigations started in 2012 after conservative cabinet ministers had some things to say about the audited environmental groups, which include Tides Canada Foundation, Tides Canada Initiative Society, Ecology Action Centre, Equiterre, and Envrionment Defence Canada.
Environment minister Peter Kent accused the charities of “laundering offshore foreign funds for inappropriate use against Canadian interests.” Everyone knows environment groups are great at laundering funds. That’s why they’re always trying to save the birds because their nests are built from all the offshore cash they’ve smuggled. Joe Oliver of Natural Resources also added that these groups have a “radical agenda.” This radical agenda includes conserving animal life, and ecosystems, as well as lobbying against fracking. Having safe and free drinking water available to everyone? Definitely the work of communists.