This article represents a follow-up of an article published in March 2019, Towards a reform in the legal framework regulating the political activities of registered charities – Four reactions from the philanthropic sector on the abolition of the 10% limitation. It was published through our partner The Philanthropist.
During the 2015 federal election campaign, the Liberals made a sweeping pledge to “allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment.” Later, in a 2018 statement, two senior government ministers said that charities play a vital role in Canadian society by providing valuable services. “We recognize the experience and value they bring to public debate, and to the formulation of public policy. As it was clearly stated in our mandate letters, our Government is committed to clarifying the rules that govern the participation of charities in political activities and we are taking the necessary steps to move forward on that commitment.” We argue that the Liberal government’s recent changes to these rules in the Income Tax Act (ITA) impede the foundation underpinning the legislative framework for political activities undertaken by registered charities (RCs). In fact, the recognition of the right of charities to engage in political advocacy requires a redefinition of charitable work itself. It forces us to re-evaluate the role the sector should play in our country’s democratic process.