Political Activities and Canadian charities

January 15, 2012

What are some examples of charitable activities that may seem political?

Here is some guidance from the CRA on activities which they will consider to be part of the charitable activities of a registered charity.

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January 15, 2012

Political activities: Is it educational or is it propaganda?

An activity by a registered charity could be charitable if you are helping people “make an informed and critical choice” and it could be propaganda if you are trying to indoctrinate people into a particular viewpoint.

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January 15, 2012

When is communication or public awareness a charitable activity rather than political for charities?

In some case CRA accepts that communication to the public or public awareness campaigns may be considered charitable and not political.

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January 15, 2012

Books and records requirements for Canadian registered charities when they do political activities?

As with all charity activities it is important that charities maintain adequate books and records of their political activities.  Such books and records should be maintained in Canada and preferably in either English or French.

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January 15, 2012

Filing requirements when Canadian registered charities do political activities?

Canadian charities that are involved with political activities must note that on their T3010 forms.

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January 15, 2012

CRA definitions and political activities as described in CPS-022

Here is some of the definitions and terminology used by CRA in discussing political activities by Canadian charities.

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January 11, 2012

“Foes of Northern Gateway pipeline fear revocation of charitable status” - Globe and Mail article

In a Globe and Mail article entitled “Foes of Northern Gateway pipeline fear revocation of charitable status” there is a discussion of recent issues raised about foreign funding on Canadian charities and political activities of Canadian charities.

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August 27, 2011

CRA Guidance “Promotion of Animal Welfare and Charitable Registration” for Canadian Charities

The CRA on August 22, 2011 published their Guidance CG-011, Promotion of Animal Welfare and Charitable Registration.  CRA had completed and public consultation and here is the revised guidance.

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June 21, 2011

New CRA webcasts/archived webinars on website - foreign activities, political activities and T3010

The CRA has added three new webinars to their website on “Activities outside Canada”, Political activities and a T3010-1: Line by line review.

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November 22, 2010

“Bill C-470 and the Backlash Against Fundraising” - by Malcolm Burrows

Malcolm Burrows recently wrote a very thoughtful article for the September 2010 edition of Gift Planning in Canada on C-470, the private members bill to cap salaries at registered charities and to force charities to disclose salary information on the top 5 employees irrespective of their earnings.  I have received permission to reproduce the article here and thought that some who are interested in compensation and HR practices in the charitable sector would find it useful.

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August 25, 2010

Bill C-470 Canadian salary cap for registered charities - simply the wrong approach

A bill to impose a salary cap on Canadian registered charities has passed 2nd reading and will shortly be reviewed by the Finance Committee of the House of Commons.  As they say, there is usually one simple solution to a complex problem that is totally wrong.  To have a single cap for all Canadian charities means that Canadian hospitals, research institutions, and universities will not even have a chance of being able to compete with other similar institutions around the world.  While it sounds appealing to cap salaries at $250,000, a very problematic piece of legislation when you drill down to the details .  You see it is not about what charities want to pay for things - every charity would ideally want everything for free.  Charities need to able to recruit people to accomplish their mission.  Charities should never pay more than they need to.  They should never pay more than fair market compensation.  But you cannot just put a one-size fits all number on what it is.  When there are only a few neurosurgeons you cannot pay what you want - you need to pay something related to the going rate for neurosurgeons or be prepared to do without them.  If you are a small community in the North and you want to have a specialist in your community, you may have to pay that person more than what a comparable hospital in Toronto or Chicago would pay.

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July 27, 2010

Advocacy and Political Activities for Canadian International Development Charities

Here is a copy of my presentation to the Ontario Council For International Cooperation (OCIC) on “Advocacy and Political Activities for Canadian International Development Charities: Some Legal and Ethical Perspectives”.

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May 17, 2010

CRA releases its Guidance on “Upholding Human Rights and Charitable Registration”

CRA has just released its guidance “Upholding Human Rights and Charitable Registration”.  Any Canadian charity dealing with human rights issues will want to read this document.

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February 01, 2009

Political Activities and Canadian Charities -Some CRA Policies and letters on political activities

Most of CRA’s view on political activities by Canadian charities can be found in Policy Statement CPS-022 Political Activities. (see Political Activities (CPS - 022) located at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/plcy/cps/cps-022-eng.html   I highly recommend that any charity considering conducting any activity that could be construed as political, review in detail the CPS-022 Policy Statement on Political Activities.

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September 07, 2008

Canadian Federal Election - Canadian charities must avoid partisan political activity

Canadian registered charities need to scrupulously avoid involvement with partisan political activity.  In this brief note we cover CRA policy statement CPS-022 on political activity by charities and CRA’s Advisory on Partisan Political Activities. It is really important for Canadian charities to understand the policy statement and advisory for two reasons: 1) failure to do so can result in a charity losing its charitable status; and 2) many charities can in fact do more allowable political activities than they currently do but they misunderstand CRA’s views on this important topic and they think that CRA disapproves of all “political” activity, which is clearly not the case. Full Article in PDF

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Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?


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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