Consultation on proposed guidance on the protection of human rights and charitable registration

Have I mentioned how much I love COCo lately? I have? Well, this is more public affection. Nonprofit and charity-minded folks who like policy will love these snippets from COCo’s latest newsletter.

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Finally, at COCo, we are committed to not only providing legal information, but also reflecting critically on the legal systems and structures as they currently stand. In that spirit, this month, we’d like to call your attention to an important consultation by the Canada Revenue Agency. The agency is seeking public feedback on their proposed Guidance on the Protection of Human Rights and Charitable Registration. As we have discussed before in COCo e-bulletins and at events, many organizations have trouble obtaining or maintaining their charitable status because of the advocacy work they do. Other organizations are muzzled in their ability to advocate for social change because they can’t afford to lose their charitable status. The public consultation on the proposed guidelines is an opportunity for community organizations to comment critically on some of the guidelines put out by the Canada Revenue Agency.
Please see http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/chrts/cnslttns/ghrg-eng.html for more information on the Canada Revenue Agency’s consultation. (November 2013: the consultation notice nor the guidance itself are available on the website, but archived information can be found through Carters on their Charity Law Bulletin No. 166.)

The Canada Revenue Agency’s Consultation on Proposed Guidance on the Protection of Human Rights and Charitable Registration is only ONE piece of the charitable registration puzzle. There is ongoing concern in the Canadian community sector about the number and type of organizations NOT receiving accreditation and the low limits for advocacy work allowed by registered charities. To get a sense of the ‘big picture’ issues around charitable status and limits on advocacy work (or “political activities”) by charities, check out “Charities and Democracy: Election Kit” (prepared by IMPACS and available at here).

To get a sense of the even bigger picture, and the more progressive stance taken by other governments such as the U.S.A. and the U.K., read: “The Law of Advocacy by Charitable Organizations: The Case for Change” (http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/200/300/impacs/law_advocacy-e/law_advocacy-e.pdf).

A full summary of the UK’s policy can be found at “Speaking Out- Guidance on Campaigning and Political Activity by Charities.”

(Post and links updated November 2013)

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