Krause questions why Trudeau changed charity laws for activists

Licia Corbella

Why did Prime Minister Justin Trudeau order his revenue minister to stop the Canada Revenue Agency from auditing politically active charities? Was it to protect his best friend and former principal secretary, Gerald Butts?

Those are just two of the many questions asked by Vivian Krause during a sold out Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel and during a scrum with reporters afterwards.

Krause, the Vancouver-based researcher who has single-handedly exposed the foreign-funded campaign to “land-lock Alberta crude” — which Alberta Premier Jason Kenney vows to hold a public inquiry into — pointed out that her popular blog and Twitter account are called Fair Questions, because she doesn’t claim to have all of the answers.

Toward the end of her more than one-hour discussion — complete with numerous slides showing the paper trail behind $600 million of American money from U.S. foundations to Canadian environmental groups to “demarket” Canadian oil and gas — Krause turned her attention to how questions surrounding CRA audits of political charities in Canada “go right to the office of our prime minister.”

“When the current government came to office, the prime minister characterized these audits as ‘political harassment’ in his mandate letter to the national revenue minister, and the finalization of the political activity audits was suspended (by the CRA),” she told the attentive crowd of 170 chamber members and their guests.

Krause testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance about changes made by the Trudeau government to the income tax act with regard to charities.

The main changes to the legislation are the removal of restrictions on the extent to which charities are allowed to engage in political activity — something that was not historically allowed except by registered political parties.

Suspiciously, seven days after she testified, the CRA eliminated the online access to more than one million tax returns, says Krause.

“Every single tax return for every single registered charity for 14 years. All that historical data, gone,” she said, saying that only the five most recent years remain online.

A spokesperson for the CRA, reached past business hours in Ottawa on Wednesday, was unable to find out why those documents were removed from public view but is attempting to obtain that information.

“This fall we’ve got an election coming up and a lot of this goes right to the prime minister’s office,” said Krause. “The fact that he suspended all the political activity audits for four years, then changed the law retroactively and then finalized the audits, I think it’s something we need to talk about but it’s going to be very difficult unless those tax returns are restored.”

Krause called on chambers of commerce groups across the country to write letters to the CRA and to politicians to put the data back online.

“In practice, what this means is that some of the charities that would have had their status revoked will be off the hook because the law was changed retroactively,” she told the Commons committee.

Krause said one of the findings the CRA reported was “‘serious noncompliance’ unrelated to political activity, including an ‘undue benefit’.


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