Last week, on March 27, the Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsperson (OTO), François Boileau, released Charity Begins with Fairness: More to Explore, a report on the fairness of the audit process for charities at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and, especially, concerns raised by Muslim-led charities and civil liberties organizations about the targeting of Muslim-led organizations by the Research and Analysis Division (RAD) of the CRA. The report was requested by the Minister of National Revenue, Diane Lebouthillier, in the wake of the Government of Canada’s National Summit on Islamophobia where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "Institutions should support people, not target them."
The report admits to being, at best, inconclusive, not least because the Ombudsperson had no access to national security data, a barrier Muslim-led organizations had pointed out in advance of the investigation. It's hoped that a second, newly-announced investigation, this time by the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), will have greater access to national security data and will produce more substantial results, but Muslim-led organizations, both local and national, have responded with disappointment in the weakness of the Ombudsperson's investigation. Other nonprofit organizations across Canada, including Pillar Nonprofit Network, have collaborated on a response, calling for better processes in the NSIRA investigation and calling on the federal government to address the Ombudsperson’s report “swiftly and decisively.”
Locally, Hikma Public Affairs Council published CRA Ombudsperson’s Report Misses the Point, fully supporting the Ombudsperson’s call for mandatory unconscious bias training at CRA but, secondly, calling for a full and expanded investigation to be headed by Mr. Boileauwith additional powers under section 6 of the Inquiries Act. Hikma is also a signatory, along with other Muslim-led organizations of Islamophobia in Plain Sight: Why the Ombudsperson’s Review Missed the Mark, calling for the suspension of activities by the RAD and a moratorium on reviews of Muslim-led charities.
The London Muslim Mosque is a signatory on an Open Letter to the Prime Minister on the CRA Review, calling on the government of Canada to “invest the appropriate powers” in a new review “that will have the ability to access and address the inter-agency work that has led to unfair targeting of Muslim-led charities.”
In a cross-Canada collaboration spearheaded by Imagine Canada, and including Pillar Nonprofit Network, “Nonprofit sector leaders urge [the] federal government to address issues raised by [the] Taxpayers' Ombudsperson’s investigation into Islamophobia within the CRA swiftly and decisively.” The statement, also forwarded to Minister Lebouthillier’ office, makes a number of recommendations calling on the government to take swift and decisive action to “implement a solution to ensure an immediate alleviation of potentially discriminatory RAD audit practices during the ongoing National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) review while also allowing Canada to maintain its national security obligations.”
Pillar is grateful to Imagine Canada for devoting staff time to mapping the issues, consulting Muslim-led organizations, and using their platform to invite collaboration by organizations in the wider nonprofit and charitable sector. We are also grateful to Hikma Public Affairs Council and London Muslim Mosque for their generosity in sharing their perspectives and recommendations with us throughout the process and trusting us to bring these foward to the collaborative.
Explore the report and reactions:
- Charity Begins with Fairness: More to Explore
- Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson releases report on the fairness of the Canada Revenue Agency’s audit process for charities
- CRA Ombudsperson’s Report Misses the Point (Hikma)
- Islamophobia in Plain Sight: Why the Ombudsperson’s Review Missed the Mark (Muslim Association of Canada, Hikma, et al)
- Nonprofit sector leaders urge federal government to address issues raised by Taxpayer’s Ombudsperson’s investigation into Islamophobia within the CRA swiftly and decisively (Imagine Canada, Pillar, et al)
- Open Letter to the Prime Minister on the CRA Review (NCCM, London Muslim Mosque, et al)
- The problem of systemic bias in CRA audits (Faisal Kutty and Faisal Bhabha in The Philanthropist Journal)
- Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson Report on Systemic Bias at Canada Revenue Agency Demonstrates Need for Moratorium, Accountability and Transparency (International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group Media Release)
- Charities - Public Safety and Anti-Terrorism: Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) summary - Review and Analysis Division
- Testimony from Tony Manconi (Director General, Charities Directorate, Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch, Canada Revenue Agency)
- Under Layered Suspicion A Review Of CRA Audits Of Muslim-Led Charities
- International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group Targeting of Muslim Charities by the CRA
- The CRA’s Prejudiced Audits: Counter-Terrorism and the Targeting of Muslim Charities in Canada
- Statement from Canada’s Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson on the progress of the examination into the concerns expressed by charities about their experiences with the CRA
- The ripple effects of invoking draconian laws must not be ignored
- Does CRA’s Charities Directorate have an Islamophobia problem?
- Systemic Islamophobia by the CRA that targets the heart of the community is the worst kind of all
- CRA presentation to Finance Committee on terrorism