Don Cayo: Tax audits aimed at Harper government critics should worry all Canadians (with video)

Don Kayo

VANCOUVER — The Canadian Press’s list of charities being audited for political activities by the Canada Revenue Agency reads suspiciously like a Who’s Who of the Canadian left.

Vancouver-based Tides Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation, the United Church of Canada’s affiliated human rights/justice organization called Kairos, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Amnesty International and, most recently, the free speech advocates at PEN Canada — the list goes on. All have been critical of the Harper government and, perhaps as a result, all are apparently suspected of engaging in more than token political activity — a no-no for tax-exempt charities.

The issue isn’t just that these groups are undergoing audits which, even if they don’t lead to the loss of charitable status, are time-consuming, expensive and intimidating. It’s also that the emphasis on these kinds of audits, which obviously tend to target officialdom’s critics, are at the behest of the government, which provided the Canada Revenue Agency with both marching orders and an extra $8 million to carry them out.

All of which smells too much like a mirror image of the scandal in the U.S. where Internal Revenue Service auditors appear to target Tea Party supporters.