The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) headquarters Connaught Building is pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) headquarters Connaught Building is pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Federal targeting of Muslim charities amounts to prejudice: civil liberties coalition

About 75 per cent of organizations whose charitable status was revoked following audits were Muslim charities

A national civil liberties coalition says a secretive division of the Canada Revenue Agency is unfairly targeting Muslim charities for audits based on flimsy reasoning, amounting to discrimination.

A newly released report by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group says the Review and Analysis Division of the revenue agency’s charities directorate works with national security agencies to carry out the audits, with little accountability or independent review.

The report says that from 2008 to 2015, 75 per cent of the organizations whose charitable status was revoked following division audits were Muslim charities, and that at least another four have had their status pulled since then.

It says that despite these revocations, not a single Muslim charitable organization, or individual associated with one, has been charged with a terrorist financing crime.

The Ottawa-based civil liberties monitoring group is a coalition of dozens of Canadian civil society organizations established to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of national security and anti-terrorism laws.

In an initial response to questions about the report, the Canada Revenue Agency said it does not select registered charities for audit based on any particular faith or denomination, adding it is firmly dedicated to diversity, inclusion and anti-racism.

If non-compliance is identified as a result of an audit, the agency generally provides a charity with an opportunity to correct the issues, it said.

“Only a very small proportion of charity audits conducted by the CRA result in serious consequences such as sanctions or revocation.”

The report notes that over the last two decades, the revenue agency has audited between 600 and 800 charities per year, the vast majority selected at random.

The report distinguishes between these audits and those specifically selected by Review and Analysis Division due to terrorist financing concerns.

According to statements by agency officials, from 2008 to 2015 RAD completed audits of 16 charities, eight of which had their charitable status revoked, the report says.

Of those eight, six were Muslim charities, accounting for 75 per cent of RAD revocations during this period, it adds. Two additional Muslim charities had their status revoked during the time period, but it is not known if they were audited by the division.

The civil liberties group says the process of an audit, and possible revocation, has also created a chilling effect that is undermining and harming the Muslim charitable sector in Canada.

The creation of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians in 2018 and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency the following year has presented new opportunities for independent review of the process, but this has yet to occur, the report says.

It calls on the Trudeau government to refer the issue to the review agency, known as NSIRA, for an examination of the Review and Analysis Division’s processes to ensure organizations are not being targeted due to racial or religious prejudice.

The group also wants Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier to declare an immediate moratorium on the targeted audit of Muslim charities until the review is complete. This would still allow the agency to audit Muslim charities selected at random.

In addition, the report recommends the Finance Department revisit the anti-terrorism regulatory, policy and legislative landscape, particularly a 2015 federal risk assessment and its effect on the Muslim community.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

federal governmentracism

Just Posted

Tim Wilkinson, who will attempt a double anvil triathlon on Vancouver Island on July 3, poses with his training partner, Shadow, who has been dragged up and down the Nanaimo Parkway many times. (Submitted)
Vancouver Island triathlete takes on ‘double anvil’ for charity

7.6km swim, 360km bike ride, and 84.4km run, all within 36 hours

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley MLA Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

BC Green Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

The city-owned lot at 361 St. Julien St., which has been home to a temporary homeless site for more than a year, will be sold and plans are to build a three-storey mixed-use development there, Peter de Verteuil, Duncan CAO explained at a recent council meeting. (File photo)
New development planned for homeless site in Duncan

Lot on St. Julien Street would see three-storey building

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read