Canada launches investigation into discrimination against Muslim charities
The Canadian government has launched an investigation into why Muslim charities were targeted for audits and subsequently had their charitable status revoked between 2008 to 2015.
According to a document prepared by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), entitled "The CRA's Prejudiced Audits: Counter-Terrorism and the Targeting of Muslim Charities in Canada" the report "demonstrates that a faulty and unsubstantiated national security "risk assessment" approach to the monitoring of terrorism financing in the charitable sector has led to Muslim charities in Canada being unduly targeted for surveillance, audits and revocation of their charitable status."
The ICLMG's findings in the report showed that investigations into terrorism financing in the charitable sector focused almost exclusively on Muslim charities. Yet despite these charities' licences being removed, none of the charities was ever charged with any connections with terrorism.
According to statements from officials in the Review and Analysis Division (RAD), from 2008 to 2015, RAD completed audits of 16 charities, eight of which had their charitable status revoked. Of those eight, six were Muslim charities, accounting for 75% of RAD revocations during this period. Two additional Muslim charities' statuses were revoked in that period, but it is unconfirmed if RAD audited them.
Tim McSorley, ICLMG's national coordinator, has offered to assist as much as needed in regards to researching the investigation on behalf of ICLMG.
"The review (should) examine the issues in full, including surveillance of the sector, the selection process for audits, how audits are carried out, how sanctions are determined, and how the CRA, particularly the Review and Analysis Division, works with other government departments, especially national security and intelligence agencies," McSorley said.
Canadian taxpayers' ombudsperson, Francois Boileau, said he was committing to investigating the issues raised by the charities and will work with the groups to ensure that the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) provides them with better services.
"Together with my office, I commit to examining the concerns raised and will engage charitable organizations led by racialized communities to ensure that the service rights we so strongly represent, are upheld by the CRA," Boileau said in a statement. "But before we take action, we need to take the time to listen and deepen our knowledge of the issues. These policies are at the heart of the problem. They are the drivers behind the prejudiced auditing of Muslim charities, and must be a key part of this review," he said.