To the Editor,
It is ironic to witness contrived right-wing outrage in the U.S. over the so-called targeting of Tea Party groups for IRS tax audits, implying president Barack Obama’s government attempts to silence dissent.
Ironic because in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is already implementing a real witch hunt with barely a squeak from liberty-loving conservatives.
U.S. Tea Party groups were being audited for their claims for tax exempt status as “social welfare” groups not allowed to spend more than 50 per cent of their time and effort on political activities.
This seems a laughable claim, worthy of examination given what we know about the Tea Party. In contrast, Canadian groups were threatened by provisions in the 2012 budget with the loss of charitable status if their political activities were judged to exceed 50 per cent of their activity.
‘Political’ seems to be defined as ‘contrary to government policy’, rather than in the usual way it is understood.
The Fraser Institute, as political as its comes, has not been recommended for audit. In June 2012, Harper said, “if we’re spending on organizations that are doing things contrary to government policy I think it is an inappropriate use of taxpayer’s money and we’ll look to eliminate it.”
The 2012 budget allocated $8 million over two years to fund the Canadian Revenue Agency’s investigation of charities that the Harper government judged to be too political, especially environmental charities – those who espoused the causes of Palestine, women, the poor and other marginalized groups as well as unions.
If such interference by the executive is considered to be offensive to democracy in the U.S., why wouldn’t it be similarly condemned here in Canada?
Or do we no longer have a democracy?
That must be it.