Government Responds to Canada Without Poverty Decision
The Minister of National Revenue and Minister of Finance issued a joint statement regarding the Canada Without Poverty decision (2018 ONSC 4147). The main outcome of this decision was that conditions under subsection 149(6.2), which require that a charity devote no more than 10% of its activities to political activities, were found to be of no effect for infringing the right to freedom of expression. Moreover the phrase “charitable activities” was interpreted to include political activities. According to the statement, the government “has identified significant errors of law” and will be appealing the decision in order to address the uncertainty it created and clarify certain issues regarding constitutional and charity law.
The government also plans to removal the quantitative limits on political activities. Specifically, the government plans to amend the Income Tax Act to implement changes consistent with a recommendation in the Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities. The report recommended that the government “[a]mend the ITA by deleting any reference to non-partisan political activities 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.” The restrictions against partisan political activities will remain. The government intends to present legislation to this effect in the Fall, accompanied by administrative guidance from the CRA. The legislation will apply retroactively, including to audits and objections that are currently suspended.