CBC News: Alternatives, foreign-aid charity, faces closure after Revenue Canada audit
CBC News, Dec 18, 2014 | FULL STORY
Alternatives, a small international aid group in Montreal, may become the first casualty in the Harper government’s stepped-up scrutiny of the political activities of Canadian charities.
The charity has worked in developing countries for more than two decades, but was told in the summer it faces revocation of its charitable registration, a move its organizers say would crush the group.
The Canada Revenue Agency began its audit of the organization more than two years ago, but determined only recently that Alternatives’ main work is not charitable at all — and that the agency made an error in 1994 by conferring charitable status.
“They say that they made a mistake 20 years ago when they gave it to us,” executive director Michel Lambert said in an interview with CBC News. “We were a bit shocked.”
Alternatives and 52 other charities have been caught in a net created by the 2012 federal budget, when the Harper government gave the revenue agency millions of dollars to audit the political activities of key charities. The initiative coincided with provocative comments by cabinet ministers painting environmental groups as “radicals” and “money launderers.”
The first wave of 10 audits targeted environment charities, most of whom oppose the government’s promotion of energy pipelines and the oilsands, but later audit waves expanded to include anti-poverty, human-rights and international aid groups.