10 February 2014

Is the CRA reacting to political pressure?

Not being a conspiracy theorist and having great faith in the integrity of our civil servants, I find it hard to believe that the current spate of audits of environmental organizations by the Canada Revenue Agency is a result of pressure from the Harper government. Yet the pressure is substantial.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently warned, “If I were an environmental charity using charitable money, tax-receipted money for political purposes, I would be cautious," which sounds rather like a threat. Regarding suggestions that changing rules for charities could be seen as a way to silence critics of the government, he replied, “If the critics of the government are terrorist organizations and organized crime, I don’t care.” One wonders into which category he places environmental groups.

radical ideological agenda
radical ideological agenda
other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade. Their goal is to stop any major project - See more at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Environment/2012/01/09/Environmentalists_other_radical_groups/#sthash.4e4jtryB.dpuf
Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver has been more explicit. Referring to environmentalists as radicals, he claimed they wanted to stop every major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families and wanted to hijack the regulatory system in order to pursue their "radical ideological agenda."

Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.
These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.
- See more at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Environment/2012/01/09/Environmentalists_other_radical_groups/#sthash.FydZEDVl.dpuf
Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.
These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.
- See more at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Environment/2012/01/09/Environmentalists_other_radical_groups/#sthash.FydZEDVl.dpuf
Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.
These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.
- See more at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Environment/2012/01/09/Environmentalists_other_radical_groups/#sthash.FydZEDVl.dpuf
As for the Prime Minister, his enemies list is infamous and environmentalists are no doubt at the top. And then there's the fact some of the audits were scheduled after complaints by an organization founded by the PMO's director of issues management.

Quite aside from political influence, the government in effect paid the CRA to pursue environmentalists. In its 2012 budget, it allocated $8-million for the agency to take a closer look at environmental charities and their political activities.

All this is a lot of pressure to resist. So even though the agency is unlikely to take orders from their political masters, when the PM and two of his most powerful ministers are making their wishes known, and that PM is the most controlling in the nation's history, and the government even provides a not so subtle financial hint, the CRA would be less than human not to lean a bit in the right direction. At a time when the government is cutting the budgets of any agency that doesn't contribute to the tar sands mission, it wouldn't be prudent for any civil servants to look like they don't want to be on the team.

2 comments:

The Mound of Sound said...

It's not being pressured, it's being directed. It has a minister, one who takes his orders from the man at whose pleasure he serves. Woe betide the lowly civil servant who stands up defiant to that man.

One of the very first measures that Harper enacted on coming to power was to cut off public (including media) access to the public service. He installed, in the PMO, information commissars to rule on what questions could be put to public servants and then to massage their responses to comport with government policy.

With this measure, Harper effectively transformed the public service into his personal, partisan political agency. He then did something quite similar with the armed forces.

A few years ago Harper constituted a secret police force comprising officers of the Edmonton and Calgary police, the RCMP and CSIS to monitor (spy) on opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline initiative. I'm sure I'm on their watch list and you probably are too, Bill.

Most Canadians have little idea of the tyrannical state in which we live.

No, the CRA isn't being pressured. It's just following orders.

ben burd said...

I don't know what the CRA will find using existing rules any NGO worth its salt long ago revised their accounting procedures to reflect separate revenue streams to fund advocacy. Non-receipted money can be used to fund whatever. All they need is good books and the CRA can fly a kite, unless of course they change the rules