Defending a charity's right to engage in public policy advocacy

Huffington Post quotes Gretchen Fitzgerald, Sierra Club Canada's national program director, on the issue of blocking charities from public policy dialogue:

"Instead of bringing legislation to "allow charities to pursue their charitable purposes by engaging in non-partisan political activities and in the development of public policy," as Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier's office promised in August, the Liberals are instead proposing new rules that recreate an untenable situation, said Gretchen Fitzgerald, the Sierra Club's national program director.

"The changes they are bringing leave it open to interpretation — which was the problem from the beginning," she said, with an exasperated laugh. "The CRA will continue to monitor any public policy advocacy by charities and revoke registration if such activities exceed what they deem acceptable," she said.

After Justice Ed Morgan struck down the previous law and ordered that charities be allowed "without quantum limitation" to participate in non-partisan political activity, the Liberals responded that they would appeal the ruling to address what they said were "errors in law." At the same time, they pledged to bring in new rules that would follow the third recommendation of the Liberals' consultation panel on the political activities of charities.

Back in March 2017, the panel suggested amending the Income Tax Act to "explicitly allow charities to fully engage without limitation in non-partisan public policy dialogue and development, provided that it is subordinate to and furthers their charitable purposes."

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