The cuts and the changes

by Aaron Wherry

The Chronicle-Herald looks at the proposed rules for foreign charities.

The Conservative government is threatening to decertify foreign charities that do not act “in the national interest of Canada.” Under rules announced Thursday in the 2012 budget, foreign groups can apply for registered charity status if they meet one of two criteria. The first is providing disaster relief or urgent humanitarian aid. The second is if they work in the national interest of Canada. The national revenue minister, working with the finance minister, will have the power to decide who meets the criteria.

Embassy reviews the cuts to foreign aid, immigration and defence.

Within the suite of departments and agencies that contribute to foreign aid, CIDA would take the largest hit: $152.7 million by 2012-13. That amounts to about 4.5 per cent of CIDA’s total budget for that year. That number would ramp up to $319.2 million by 2014-15. To put that into context, that ongoing $319.2 million decline is just under the $320 million CIDA currently spends on basic education programs and for water and sanitation, according to figures from the Canadian Council for International Co-operation.

Mike De Souza reviews the impact on environment policy. APTN looks at the closing of the Fist Nations Statistical Institute.




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The cuts and the changes

  1. Good luck with this policy. I don’t know about Aus and NZ but an enormous amount of money flows between US, Can, and UK and there is no such thing as a national interest – we are all individuals who have our own hopes and dreams.

    Cons are gormless, they should be embarrassed they are trying to ban mainstream left wing charities. Wait till NDP or Libs get into power and see which charities they decide that are in the national interest and which aren’t – soon enough Government will be  punishing all charitable orgs. Instead of banning charities/donations maybe the Cons could take some time and actually explain conservative economics and plans to the public because then they would not have to behave like tinfoil hat wearing fascists.

    •  I have to admit I can’t see any of Canada’s mainstream parties streamlining charitable registration to suit their needs in the manner Harper just did.  In power, the Liberals have tended to veer right – the Conservatives just veer crazy.

      •  ’Conservatives just veer crazy’ ……boy, that sums it up.

    • I don’t agree with you often Tony, so I definitely ought to chime in when I do agree.

      I entirely concur.  What especially caught my eye was the “national interest of Canada” provision… which reminds me of the “net benefit to Canada” provision in the foreign investment rules.  In both cases, the determination is made by a minister, and lacks any criteria (publicly known, anyways) upon which those decisions are made.

      The government needs to realize that one day they will not be in power (may be 2015, may be 2050, but one day).  When that day comes, the opposition will use these same powers against the Conservatives, and will no doubt interpret “national interest of Canada” in the same way the Tories did, i.e. national interest of the agenda of the party in power.

      • I also wonder if there’s room there for a Charter challenge.

        •  My initial impression would be that careful drafting could save the proposed plan, but I am welcome to opposing views on the matter.

      • “national interest of Canada” provision… which reminds me of the “net benefit to Canada” provision in the foreign investment rules.”

        Spot on, that’s what I was thinking as well, but couldn’t remember the specific phrasing.

        National interest, net benefit = what will most help ruling party during next election campaign. Pols are very narcissistic, they think it’s all about them and their plans and they don’t care about hoi polloi. 

        OrsonBean ~ I didn’t even think of Charter challenges, that would indeed be interesting because Canadians don’t have free speech rights so Cons picking on a few charities might be acceptable. 

    • Bang on – and no annoying quotes! I’d give you an extra “like” for that if I could.

  2. The changes to the foreign charity rules are small beer – the number of foreign charities registering to be Canadian charities is very small relative to garden-variety Canadian charities.  The bigger issue to Harper is Canadian charities being funded by foreign charities, which this budget does nothing to curtail.

    As for the national revenue minister and finance minister deciding what foreign charities “meet the criteria”, like everything else in tax, anyone who disagrees with a decision of CRA has the ability to appeal that decision to the federal tax court.

    •  Harp is just trying to cut opposition to the pipeline through BC…..which ensures future violence.

  3. What IS the National Interest.  Foreign Charities providing funding to Environmental Groups to fight the Big Corporate Agenda (as will other in that vein) will likely be viewed as NOT being in the National Interest by a Government that is so Big Corp Friendly.

    It all depends on how the “The national revenue minister, working with the finance minister, will have the power to decide who meets the criteria.” define “In The National Interest”.  My fear that the Corporate Interest will over-ride National Interest in every instance of policy implementation just as it does today, but the Voice of decent will be silenced, just that little bit more for lack of funding.The Issue is not in the words used, but the difference of definition applied by the speaker and the hearer.  We live in a day when what is said is not exacting enough that it cannot be understood and defined in differing ways depending on THE AGENDA.

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