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.
- 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)
- 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
- 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.
- Opinion piece on the conduct and consequences of the audits
- Timeline of events and CRA views
- University of Victoria, Environmental Law Centre report: Tax Audits of Environmental Groups: The Pressing Need for Law Reform
- Canada Without Poverty Case Media report
- Small charity survives CRA audit now facing new demands
ACPNS case summaries
Register to attend (by 23 February)
Once registered, you will receive the webinar link via email
|Monday 24 February||Tuesday 25 February|
Vancouver (Timezone 4)
Edmonton (Timezone 5)
Sydney, Melbourne & Canberra
Toronto, Ottawa, Washington DC (Timezone 7)
There is no cost to attend this webinar
10:00am Brisbane time
(Please see the above timings for other countries)
Canada’s Special Audits of Charities’ Political Activities
The Experience of Audited Organisations
General Charitable Sector Reaction to the Audits
What Were the Issues for the Regulator?
Tools and Tactics of the Regulator - Canada
Tools and Tactics of the Regulator - Australia
Jennifer Batrouney QC
Issues Arising for the Government
Media Coverage and Public Opinion
Wrap-Up / Reflections
Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Susan Phillips summarise key comments texted from Zoom participants
Myles McGregor Lowndes and Susan Phillips
QUT Business School
- Phone: 3138 2050
- Postal address:
QUT Business School
GPO Box 2434
Brisbane QLD 4001