Rights and Democracy: Sheila Fraser acts to ensure financial transparency

A little bird told me that, while we all wait for the Deloitte audit of Rights and Democracy that the former board promised us in three weeks, four months ago, that someone else was poking around at the benighted organization: Auditor General Sheila Fraser. I called her office, and media relations manager Ghislain Desjardins confirmed it was so. His note to me, in its entirety:

We expect to submit our annual financial audit of Rights and Democracy financial statements by the end of June (22nd is the tentative date). Rights and Democracy publishes the financial audit in their Annual Report. Click here for 2008-2009 RD’s Annual Report (.pdf). Page 22 for Financial Statements. You should get in touch with Rights and Democracy to see if you can have access to their financial statements before they release them in their annual report.

What we audit is the consolidated balance sheet of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development and the consolidated statements of operations, comprehensive income, changes in equity and cash flows for the year ending March 31st. These financial statements are the responsibility of the Centre’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements based on the audit. We conduct our audit in accordance with Canadian generally accepted auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform an audit to obtain reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation.


Our fact sheet on financial audits describes them as such:

Financial audits answer this question: Is the government keeping proper accounts and records, and presenting its financial information fairly?

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada audits the federal government’s summary financial statements, which are published annually in the Public Accounts of Canada, and also audits those of Canada’s three Territories. The Auditor General provides an opinion as to whether the the summary financial statements of the federal and territorial governments are fairly presented in accordance with their stated accounting policies.

The Office also conducts an annual audit of the financial statements of most Crown corporations and many federal organizations.

In financial audits, auditors test whether financial transactions support the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Audit procedures may include comparing the results of operations with planned results, assessing the reliability of a department’s financial control systems, and checking samples of transactions and balances.

Okay, me again. Wells. It’s worth pointing out that this sort of AG report is perfectly routine; the report on the 2009 audit, contained in the annual report linked above, amounts to a single page saying, No problem here. We’ll see whether the 2010 report says the same.

When I write to request a copy of the AG report immediately upon its filing, I plan to quote back to the new Rights and Democracy regime the same thing Jacques Gauthier wrote when he announced the three-week four-month whatever audit:

“Democracy demands accountability and rights require responsibility,” Gauthier said. “As an institution that receives $11 million annually from the federal government – in other words, from the taxes of Canadians – Rights and Democracy must be accountable for the way our funds are spent. We are responsible to ensure they have been properly managed.”