Environmental groups claim they are being targeted

Feb 19, 2014

Some of the Canadian government's fiercest critics say they are being targeted.  The Canada Revenue Agency is auditing more than half a dozen environmental groups to see if they are complying with guidelines that limit political advocacy.

The Canadian government, in its budget presented earlier this month, allocated 8 million dollars towards monitoring environmental groups.

The list include The David Suzuki Foundation, the Pembina Foundation, Environmental Defense and the West Coast Environmental Law organization, to name a few. Sources in Ottawa say at least one group, already audited, is appealing and has been threatened with having its charitable status revoked.

By law in Canada charities are allowed to use a maximum of ten percent of their resources for political activity or advocacy....but it cannot be partisan activity.  But some activists say what's happening is much more sinister. John Bennett of the Sierra Club of Canada describes it as a war against the environmental sector and a move to silencing criticism by giving the power to the revenue agency to walk in and shut down an organization.

That agency insists it's not targeting certain charities.....a probe is usually initiated by a random selection or complaints.  One group that has formally submitted complaints is Ethical Oil, which is a registered non-profit non-governmental organization, which describes itself as an online community in defense of Alberta oil sands development.  It was founded by Alykhan Velshi, who is now director issues management in the prime minister's office.