"The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies in Halifax has not responded to questions."
That nugget was nested in the last line, last paragraph of a Globe and Mail story last week about the Harper government's efforts to "intimidate, muzzle and silence its critics."
Ottawa is spending $13.4 million so its tax auditors can descend, locust-like, on charitable groups not in lockstep with Harper's worldview, searching for real or imagined evidence they're devoting more than 10 per cent of their resources to political advocacy.
The story itself was about an open letter more than 400 academics signed, protesting an audit of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a left-leaning think-tank with a Nova Scotia office. (Full disclosure: I am a modest financial contributor.)
The CCPA is one of 52 charities -- economic, environmental, poverty, human rights and international aid groups -- under scrutiny. CCPA's sin? Allegedly including "biased" and "one-sided" information on its website contrary to tax rules.
The letter counters CCPA has an international reputation for "fair and unbiased" research, and concludes the government audit is "politically motivated."
Politically motivated? OK, so who isn't being audited? Well, the Globe confirmed some of the country's most prominent right-wing think-tanks -- C.D. Howe, Macdonald-Laurier -- are not among those being scrutinized. Two others refused to answer the question. AIMS, Atlantic Canada's own "registered charity," neo-con thought farm, "did not respond."
So I emailed Marco Navarro-Genie, AIMS' current president, to ask for its response. He replied he was "very surprised" because the writer hadn't contacted him for a comment. His actual comment: "We won't comment on this."
Perhaps unfairly -- correct me if I'm wrong, Marco -- I'll take that as a "no."
AIMS, which boasts a glowing endorsement from one Stephen Harper -- "Dollar for dollar the best think-tank in the country" -- and has yet to meet a government it did not want to privatize, downsize or outsource, is not being audited by Stephen's storm troopers.
No comment? If AIMS cared about freedom to research and "make a difference with ideas," as its website claims, it would be standing tall in the marketplace of ideas with those who oppose this government's partisan attacks on those who simply disagree with it.
Its silence speaks volumes.
This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.