Political Activities and Canadian charities

June 18, 2016

“Donald Trump Accused of Using His Charity as a Political Slush Fund” - The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast has a rather extensive article on Donald Trump's use of the Trump Foundation entitled Donald Trump Accused of Using His Charity as a Political Slush Fund.  It is well worth reading.  I have criticized the Clinton Foundation for some lapses when it came to transparency and especially the lame excuses they gave in response to questions.  Nothing that the Clinton's have done with their foundation seems to be even close to the seriousness of the allegations leveled against the Trump Foundation.

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May 27, 2016

AFP Toronto Fundraising Day:  The Time is Now: Government Relations for Canadian Charities

I am pleased to be on a panel for AFP GTA Fundraising Day with Caroline Riseboro, Bruce MacDonald, Hilary Pearson, and Stewart Wong.  The topic of the panel will be "The Time is Now: Government Relations for Canadian Charities".

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April 14, 2016

Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2014

We have just released the Blumbergs' Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2014 as part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project.  This is the fifth snapshot provided by Blumbergs of the Canadian charity sector. The database covers about 84,500 of the 86,000 registered charities in Canada that had filed their T3010 for the 2014 year and were processed into CRA’s Charity Listing database by February 2016. 

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March 15, 2016

AFP GTA Fundraising Day 2016

I look forward to the AFP GTA Fundraising Day 2016 which will be held on June 9, 2016.  There will be various speakers and panels.  I  will be on a panel with Bruce MacDonald (Imagine Canada), Hilary Pearson (PFC), Caroline Riseboro (Plan International), Stewart Wong (Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital) dealing with the importance of government relations.

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January 28, 2016

Sunny days for charities and political activities?  But lack of transparency results in some clouds

Here is an article "Sunny days for charities and political activities?  But lack of transparency results in some clouds" which discusses a recent press release from the Minister of National Revenue dealing with the charity political audit program.  

January 21, 2016

Liberals announces winding down of the political activities audit program for charities

Diane Lebouthillier, the new Minister of National Revenue has announced that the 2012 Conservative government initiative to audit more registered charities on the issue of political activities will be wound down.  There is a lot in the release and I will be writing more about it shortly.  

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December 18, 2015

The important charity information British people get to see that Canadians are forbidden from seeing

The Charity Commission of England and Wales just released a report entitled Campaigning and political issues arising in the run-up to the 2015 General Election.  When they put it out they probably did not think that it is such a special report.  It explained that in the 2015 UK election there were complaints about UK charities, the Charity Commission investigated and what the result was.   Nothing that exciting, except in Canada if the CRA was to prepare a similar report and provide it to either MPs or the public then people at CRA would go to jail.    

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November 01, 2015

Ontario Bar Association program “Top Compliance Issues for Canadian Charities” on Nov 9, 2015

On November 9, 2015 I will be presenting a program for the Ontario Bar Association, along with Nevena Urosevic, on Top Compliance Issues for Canadian Charities.  It is available both in-person and by webcast.

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October 18, 2015

Snapshot on Political Activities in the Canadian Charity Sector 2013

We have prepared as part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project this Snapshot on Political Activities in the Canadian Charity Sector 2013.

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August 27, 2015

Election 2015 and Canadian charities - article for Hilborn

I recently wrote an article "Election 2015 and Canadian charities" for Hilborn.   Charities that are involved in political activities may find it helpful. 

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August 22, 2015

CRA posts “Advisory on partisan political activities” as the 2015 Federal election continues

The CRA has posted an "Advisory on partisan political activities" as a reminder to Canadian registered charities that they must avoid all partisan political activities, although they are allowed to conduct certain political activities related to their objects and within in certain resource limitations.

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August 02, 2015

Canadian Charities and Political Activities: Keeping room temperature in a chilly environment

August 02, 2015

Cathy Hawara’s comments on political activities and compliance in a May 2015 speech

Political activities and charities has been a hot button issue over the last few years.  With Prime Minister Harper launching the 2015 election today it is important for Canadian charities to be aware of their legal obligations and to comply with them. Here are excerpts from the comments by Cathy Hawara, Director General of the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency, on political activities and compliance in a May 2015 speech that CRA released on Friday.    

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July 22, 2015

New CRA webpages on political audits and the general audit process

July 03, 2015

“Top 20 Charity Law Issues for Canadian Registered Charities” in Ottawa July 15

On July 15, 2015 Mark Blumberg will be delivering a 2 hour presentation entitled "Top 20 Charity Law Issues for Canadian Registered Charities" in Ottawa.  The presentation is complimentary but if you are interested in attending you should register here.

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June 24, 2015

Carleton University “Public policy for philanthropy, charities and nonprofits” - July 16

I will be on a panel at Carleton University on July 16 discussing "Public policy for philanthropy, charities and nonprofits– The issue we cannot ignore" with Cathy Barr, Senior Vice-President, Imagine Canada and Liz Sutherland, Policy Advisor, Ontario Nonprofit Network.

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May 28, 2015

House of Commons Finance Committee has announced the 2015 pre-budget consultations

The House of Commons Finance Committee has announced the 2015 pre-budget consultations.   Charities interested in making submissions to the Finance Committee should review their recent press release.  Submissions should be dealing with certain themes and no longer than 2,000 words.  They must be submitted by August 7, 2015.  

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May 21, 2015

Fundamentals of Political Activities by Canadian Registered Charities

The involvement of charities in political activities has been a major story since 2012. The 2012 Federal Budget introduced new reporting requirements for charities for 2013 but does not fundamentally affect the ability of charities to engage in political activities. Significant resources have been provided to the Charities Directorate to audit charities who conduct political activities. On Tuesday September 22, 2015 we will conduct a 1/2 day program from 9AM-12PM entitled Fundamentals of Political Activities by Canadian Registered Charities.  

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May 18, 2015

Presentation to the Université de Montréal Charity Law Conference 2015

I was delighted to present as part of a panel at the Université de Montréal Charity Law Conference 2015 on May 8, 2015.  The panel was entitled The Modern Charities Regulator and my presentation was entitled "Overview of the Regulatory Environment in Canada for Registered Charities".

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May 17, 2015

Toronto Star article on Fraser Institute and political activities

In a recent Toronto Star article entitled "Critics say Fraser Institute letter highlights ‘enormous lack of clarity’ in charity-audit rules" the Toronto Star discusses a letter from the Fraser Institute to supporters. The article raises some interesting points but I have some concerns with the article as well.

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April 24, 2015

Political Activity Audits and the CRA Program Update 2015

We have blogged about the CRA Program Update 2015 separately but wanted to focus here on what the update provides in terms of information on the political activity audits of CRA's Charities Directorate.  CRA should be commended for publishing a program update.  I am certainly not aware of any regulatory requirement that they need to, but the program update does provide useful information for the charity sector.  In the program update you have to read pretty far into the 5000 word document to see the "Charities and Political Activities" update but it is important so we have created a separate blog post. 

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April 20, 2015

Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2013

We have just released the Blumbergs' Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2013 as part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project.   The database covers about 83,000 of the 86,000 registered charities in Canada that had filed their T3010 and were processed into CRA’s Charity Listing database by December 2014. 

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March 09, 2015

CRA makes available a Political Activities PowerPoint Presentation for registered charities to use

As part of their educational mandate to encourage charities to be compliant with their legal requirements, including when conducting political activities, the Charities Directorate has released a "Political Activities PowerPoint Presentation" that registered charities can use internally to understand the limits of political activities.  There is both the presentation and the speakers notes.    

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February 19, 2015

CRA has minor updates to its Fundraising Guidance to include footnote on Gour decision

The CRA Fundraising Guidance, is CRA's main document dealing with the obligations of registered charities when it comes to fundraising.   The  CRA Fundraising Guidance was initially published in 2009 but then significantly updated on April 20, 2012. At the bottom of each page on the CRA website it notes the last date in which the document was updated.  In the case of the Fundraising Guidance it shows the last update was on June 16, 2014.  I wondered what had been changed.  There appears to be only one important addition - a new footnote to add an Ontario case in which a fundraiser was charged and convicted of fraud.      

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February 09, 2015

Globe and Mail article “Think tanks need to show us the money”

The Globe and Mail had an article by Konrad ​Yakabuski questioning the degree of transparency about sources of funding with Canadian registered charities that are "think tanks"

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Charity Lawyer Mark Blumberg

Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.

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