Back at the beginning of May, Natalie Lochwin and I wrote a piece about the fact that, as citizens and taxpayers, we are all directly subsidizing the political activities of many anti-choice and anti-LGBT rights groups, despite the fact that this is, apparently, against Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) rules governing "charities" with tax-deductible status.
To remind everyone, the CRA's own rules state that:
- further the interests of a particular political party; or support a political party or candidate for public office; or
- retain, oppose, or change the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country.
Oddly, the CRA says almost the exact opposite on its charity tax forms themselves, but the above is, in fact, the law; a law being used by the Tories to attempt to suppress legitimate charities that they do not like.
But what about "charities" that, for one reason or another, the Tories do not mind so much?
When Natalie and I wrote the previous article, we were puzzled as to the fact that Charles McVety, the virulently political Christian Right activist who has made it his recent mission to oppose attempts to introduce anti-LGBT bullying legislation for schools in Ontario, somehow seemed to be able to claim that donations to one-or-another of his initiatives listed on the website of his Institute for Canadian Values were tax-deductible.
After all, McVety had appeared before a parliamentary committee on the bill to spew the following bile:
Bill 13 “embraces a radical sex education agenda” and children will be taught “about oral and anal sex.”
“My daughter is a precious little 14-year-old girl. I beg you not to do this to my daughter,” he said. “This bill goes against the Bible. The Bible is a very important document.”
This makes any charitable status with initiatives associated with the Institute seem strange, as he is clearly a political activist, and the website and his "institute" are explicitly attempting to "retain, oppose, or change the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country."
Any doubt about this can be quickly put to rest on McVety's reprehensible Stop Corrupting Children page. Here his institute advocates directly and actively, in no uncertain terms, against Bill 13. Using a wounded Teddy Bear as a symbol, McVety calls on people to defeat the proposed law, to email politicians about the law and is obviously seeking a political result and outcome.
As you can see, this page contains a donation link. This link leads to page that says:
"Children's Emergency Protection Fund is a non-profit, charitable organization. As such, our
ministries and Staff are totally dependent on the donations of our supporters. Help support
the efforts of Children's Emergency Protection Fund by making a donation.
An Income Tax receipt will be sent to you for your donation. Thank you."
However, if you go to the CRA's website, and if you seek to search out the "Children's Emergency Protection Fund" you will find...well...nothing. A screen shot showing this can be found here.
The Children's Emergency Protection Fund is, according to the webpage that McVety's Institute has put up, a campaign that is dedicated to helping children by protecting them from hunger, poverty and sexual abuse. All noble causes.
In fact, on the fund's main sub-page it states:
With the public's help the feeding programs have become a huge success. Our goal is to ensure that kids don’t go to bed or arrive at school hungry. Volunteers have done a great job to help keep the costs down to approximately $1.00 a day, to help make sure these kids are fed. We are hoping that we can count on your support for these children.
The funds will help start or continue a feeding program in your area. With more than 1 million children in Canada living in poverty, you could be helping a child right around the corner from you.
We would really appreciate your support this year with these feeding programs. The children count on you.
Our full donation is $365 to feed a child for 1 year, or $182 for 6 months.
$93 would feed a child for 3 months would that better fit your budget?
Many people are helping with a dollar a day for two months, which is $62.
No child should have to go to bed or school hungry?
This all sounds really great. But at the bottom of the page, the following is listed:
The Children’s Emergency Protection Fund
50 Gervais Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M3C 1Z3 Canada
Tel: 416-391-5000 / Fax: 416-391-3969
Toll Free Number 1-866-743-9112 firstname.lastname@example.org
Registered with Canada Revenue Agency
Charitable Registration Number: 86954 1540 RR0001
However, when one searches out that Charitable Registration Number on the CRA website, something does indeed, finally, come up...and it is not a Children's Charity.
It is, in fact, the CRN for the Canada Christian College and School of Graduate Theological Studies. This clearly is a legally recognized charity. And maybe it should be legally a charity. Who knows? The CRA seems to think so. But its CRA public tax return explicitly states that it has nothing at all to do with fighting children's hunger, poverty or sexual abuse.
We have had to provide the entire last return filed by this charity, in 2010, on a separate page. This is due to the odd fact that the CRA will not allow you to directly link to posted returns, despite the fact that they are entirely public.
This tax return warrants some attention.
First, after all the preliminaries that make it clear who this CRN belongs to we find:
The three primary areas in which the charity is now carrying on programs to achieve its charitable purposes are listed below. The program areas are ranked according to the percentage of time and resources devoted to each program area.
1 Seminaries and other religious colleges E4 100%
There is no mention here of programs of any kind to fight hunger or poverty, or, for that matter, sexual abuse.
Going down a little in the return we discover in section C5, where the organization is asked directly whether or not "did the charity carry on any political activities during the fiscal period?", they state "No".
Then we get to the issue of where the money raised by this charity came from and where it went.
According to the return they filed with the CRA, (C7 a & b) their fundraisers raised $ 1,198,642 in 2010, of which $ 890,277 went to "the amounts paid to and/or retained by the fundraisers." This means that slightly over 74% of everything raised went to salaries. That leaves very little for the bible studies...or children.
To the question of; "Did the charity compensate any of its directors/trustees or like officials or persons not at arm's length from the charity for services provided during the fiscal period (other than reimbursement for out-of pocket expenses)?" the answer is "Yes".
In fact, when you look at the Schedule 6, Detailed Financial Information, they list the amount spent on Charitable Programs as zero.
This is all rather odd. There is no indication, anywhere, that any money at all was spent on fighting child poverty, despite the fact that the Institute's own webpage for The Children's Emergency Protection Fund gives this CRA Charitable Registration Number for its activities.
Now, given that the federal Tories are obsessed with the idea that "outside" foreign interests are financing environmental charities, it is also worth noting that, in Section C10, the charity also shows that it has collected at least some donations in excess of $10,000 from donors who were NOT:
- A Canadian Citizen, nor
- Employed in Canada, nor
- Carrying on a business in Canada, nor
- A person having disposed of taxable Canadian property
Sadly, the CRA does not allow us to see how many of these donations they received.
But that is not quite good enough for Mr. McVety and his Institute.
They are also, apparently, fighting for Israel.
On another page, the Institute asks you to "pledge" for Israel through the Christians United for Israel-Canada. This group claims to be advocating for the idea that:
WE BELIEVE that:
the Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient homeland of Israel, and that the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic right.
WE MAINTAIN that there is no excuse for acts of terrorism against Israel, and that Israel has the same right as every other nation, to defend her citizens from such attacks.
WE PLEDGE TO STAND WITH OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN Israel, and to speak out on their behalf whenever and wherever necessary, until the attacks stop and the Israelis are finally living in peace security with their neighbours.
Right under this statement of solidarity with Israel is a "Make a Donation" link.
This link takes you to page that states:
Christians United For Israel-Canada is a non-profit, charitable organization. As such, our ministries and Staff are totally dependent on the donations of our supporters. Help support the efforts of CUFI-Canada by making a donation.
Exactly the same address as the apparent children's charity above...and exactly the same result. As a screenshot here clearly shows, the CRA does not seem to recognize the existence of a charity by that name. If you click the donation link, you get the same donation form that you get for the children's charity that also cannot be found on the CRA website and whose web page carries a registration number for a different charity.
Where do these donations go?
Do they go to the same place that the charitable funds above go?
It would seem that there are some real questions here. Questions that should now be directed at the CRA itself.
Please note that this information was as of May 30, 2012, and that screen shots verifying it can be found here.