In fall 2016, the federal government launched a Canada-wide consultation with charities and the public on the rules under which charities should be allowed to speak out in Canadian society. Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier remarked on “the critical role charities play” and committed to “working in collaboration with charities to maintain a fair system that respects and encourages their essential contribution.”
Currently, Canadian law and policy restricts the involvement of charities in public debate and public policy development – activities labeled by the Canada Revenue Agency as “political activities”. Limiting charities’ involvement in public debate and public policy development silences the voices of Canadians who rely on the charities they support to advance systemic solutions to social and environmental problems they could not achieve alone.
This submission from the West Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation outlines key concerns about Canada's outdated charitable laws, and discusses the legislative reform needed to ensure Canadians have the right to be heard on public policy issues through the charities they support.