Inter Pares has long called for the Canadian government to uphold the crucial role of charities in public debate and in Canadian society at large. In previous submissions1, we have emphasized the importance of a charity being able to engage in non-partisan public policy dialogue and development activities without limitation, in order to advance the organization’s charitable purposes. We have done so on the basis of the government’s own commitments as expressed in the mandate letters provided to the Minister of National Revenue and the Minister of Finance; of Justice Morgan’s ruling in the Canada Without Poverty v Canada case; of the Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities; and of over four decades of experience as a charity working to address the root causes of social injustice.
We joined charities across the country in welcoming the amendments to the Income Tax Act enacted by the government of Canada in December of 2018 through the Budget Implementation Act, which formally removed limits on non-partisan PPDDAs, other than the requirement that they further an organization’s stated charitable purposes. We also applauded the government’s decision to discontinue its appeal of the decision in Canada Without Poverty v. AG Canada.
These actions were important steps in the right direction, opening a path to remove significant barriers and administrative burdens that have prevented charities from fully engaging in public policy dialogues and processes.
In January 2019, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) issued its new guidance on public policy dialogue and development activities by charities (Reference number: CG-027). There were important changes, in compliance with the Canada Without Poverty decision and subsequent legislative changes.
However, we are deeply concerned about other changes, in particular the very broad definition of partisan activity, which we outline in more detail below.
We also take advantage of this opportunity to reiterate the importance of reforming antiquated “direction and control” requirements imposed on charities working with non-qualified donees in Canada or abroad.