Closed meeting of the House of Commons Finance Committee rejected conducting a full probe into reports of politically motivated audits of charities by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Ottawa (20 Aug. 2014) — Responding to a request by New Democratic Party Member of Parliament (MP) Murray Rankin, the House of Commons Finance Committee held a special closed-door meeting to look into the possible "misuse" of the Canada Revenue Agency. The in-camera hearings follow a number of highly reported examples of what Rankin describes as "allegedly aggressive auditing of certain Canadian charities."
Bid for full probe of CRA political audits rejected
The Conservative-controlled House of Commons Finance Committee has apparently decided not to conduct a full investigation into CRA's audits of a number of Canadian charities.
The committee members met for 45 minutes to debate an NDP motion to look into allegations that the CRA is targeting specific charities for political reasons.
While, under House rules, a committee member, with the support of at least two other MPs, can force the committee chair to convene a meeting, it does not have to be held in public. Unfortunately, a motion to make the meeting public was defeated.
Afterwards, Rankin told reporters that "all we want is accountability," and that he's "disappointed" and "shocked" the meeting was held in-camera.
Growing number of what appear to be politically motivated tax audits
Rankin filed the formal request to recall the committee, after receiving no response to a letter sent to committee chair James Rajotte to suggest that the committee convene a meeting to look into the issue.
In his letter to the committee clerk, he wrote that "the Conservative government has given the CRA thirteen million dollars in special funding to conduct political activities audits of charities."
"Media reports suggest that these aggressive and time-consuming audits are disproportionately impacting organizations that have been critical of government policies in fields such as the environment, poverty and human rights."
Committee could have helped get to the bottom of the issue
Rankin feels that the committee "could provide a safe space for charities to shed light on the impact of these aggressive audits, and to help get to the bottom of allegations of misuse of Canada’s tax agency for political ends."
"If these well-publicized concerns voiced by many in the charities sector can be addressed by the Conservative government at the Committee, that would likewise provide a valuable service," he added.
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