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Event

25 February 2020

Webinar available:

24 February 2020 - Canada/US
25 February 2020 - Australia

In its 2012 budget, Canada’s Conservative (Harper) government set aside a special allocation of $13.4 million dollars to audit “political activities” of charities. Over the next few years, the charity regulator, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), undertook audits of more than 50 charities generally and specifically for the purpose of investigating whether these organizations had exceeded their allowable limits of political activities. These charities included Amnesty International Canada, a left-leaning think tank, a writers’ group that defends freedom of expression, as well as seven of Canada’s most prominent environmental charities.

Many observers accused government of using the audits to intimidate and silence opposing political views. Some charities report that their costs in legal and accounting fees incurred in the audits were in excess of CA$200,000. In addition, there may also have been a variety of costs to the regulator, the government as a whole and the not-for-profit sector that are have not been assessed or widely discussed.

In hindsight, what were the considerations and overall costs – of all kinds -- of the audits? What did charities, the sector and government learn from this audit process, and what did they do right and what would they do differently?

In a live webinar with key Canadian players will reflect on their experiences and Australian commentators will give their responses.

Participants include

International Contributors

  • Susan Phillips Visiting Fellow, ACPNS; Professor Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership School of Public Policy and Administration Carleton University
  • Nick Robinson, Legal Advisor – International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law
  • Peter Robinson, former CEO, David Suzuki Foundation
  • Leilani Farha, Executive Director, Canada Without Poverty
  • Bob Wyatt, Executive Director, The Muttart Foundation & Vice-President, The Pemsel Case Foundation
  • Carl Juneau, former Director, Charities Directorate, Canada Revenue Agency
  • Susan Manwaring, Partner, Miller Thomson LLP
  • Sean Speer, Assistant Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto; Former Economic Adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper
  • Tim Harper, Freelance Writer; Former Bureau Chief, Parliamentary Press Gallery (Canada)

Australian Responders

  • Jennifer Batrouney QC, Chair, Not-for-Profit Legal Practice and Charities Committee, Law Council of Australia
  • Murray Baird, Former Assistant Commissioner, General Counsel, Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC)
  • Krystian Seibert, Industry Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne.
  • David Crosbie, CEO, Community Council for Australia 

Webinar Facilitators

  • Susan Phillips (ACPNS Visiting Prof.) Professor, Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Carleton University, Canada
  • Myles McGregor-Lowndes, Emeritus Professor, ACPNS, QUT

Some pre-reading for Australian participants

We provide a selection of material to gain some background to the Canadian audits.

ACPNS case summaries

Register to attend (by 23 February)
Once registered, you will receive the webinar link via email

Timezones

Canada/USAustralia
Monday 24 FebruaryTuesday 25 February
4-6pm
Vancouver (Timezone 4)
10am-12noon
Brisbane
5-7pm
Edmonton (Timezone 5)
11am-1pm
Sydney, Melbourne & Canberra
7-9pm
Toronto, Ottawa, Washington DC (Timezone 7)
 

There is no cost to attend this webinar

Agenda

TimeTopicSpeaker

10:00am Brisbane time

(Please see the above timings for other countries)

Welcome
Rules of Engagement

Myles McGregor-Lowndes
Emeritus Professor, Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS), Queensland University of Technology

Susan Phillips
Visiting Fellow, ACPNS; Professor
Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership
School of Public Policy and Administration
Carleton University

10:05

World Perspective

Nick Robinson
Legal Advisor, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

10:10

Canada’s Special Audits of Charities’ Political Activities

Susan Phillips

10:15

The Experience of Audited Organisations

Peter Robinson
Former CEO, David Suzuki Foundation

Leilani Farha
Executive Director, Canada Without Poverty

10:35

General Charitable Sector Reaction to the Audits

Bob Wyatt
Executive Director, The Muttart Foundation; Vice-President, The Pemsel Case Foundation

10:45

Response

David Crosbie
CEO, Community Council for Australia

10:50

What Were the Issues for the Regulator?

Carl Juneau
Former Director, Charities Directorate, Canada Revenue Agency

11:00

Tools and Tactics of the Regulator - Canada

Susan Manwaring
Partner
Miller Thomson LLP

11.10

Tools and Tactics of the Regulator - Australia

Jennifer Batrouney QC
Chair, Not-for-Profit Legal Practice and Charities Committee, Law Council of Australia

11.20

Response

Murray Baird
Former Assistant Commissioner, General Counsel, Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC)

11.25

Issues Arising for the Government

Sean Speer
Assistant Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto; Former Economic Adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

11:35

Media Coverage and Public Opinion

Tim Harper
Freelance Writer; Former Bureau Chief, Parliamentary Press Gallery

11:45

Response

Krystian Seibert
Industry Fellow, Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University of Technology

11:50

Wrap-Up / Reflections

All participants
A brief comment from each presenter

Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Susan Phillips summarise key comments texted from Zoom participants

11:58

Closing

Myles McGregor Lowndes and Susan Phillips

Date
25 February 2020 - 25 February 2020
Time
10am - 12noon (AEST)
Location
Webinar
Cost
Free to attend
Email
acpns@qut.edu.au
URL
Register now
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