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About 75 per cent of organizations whose charitable status was revoked following audits were Muslim charities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The report says that from 2008 to 2015, 75 per cent of the organizations whose charitable status was revoked following division audits were Muslim charities, and that at least another four have had their status pulled since then.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

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer down to 102 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 332 cases with 26 in hospital and five in ICU

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday 12, 2020.

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall

114 cases in Red Deer, down one from Saturday

Lorne Fundytus. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
OUR COMMUNITY: Rimoka Housing Foundation has a new CAO

Rimoka Housing Foundation (RHF) has a new, yet familiar, face to fill… Continue reading

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

(Photo submitted)
RV fire in Riverside, Ponoka quickly extinguished

A fire that set a motor home in Riverside ablaze from an… Continue reading

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

Most Read