Statement by Environmental Defence’s Tim Gray on the federal government’s commitment to update Canada’s charity law and lift restrictions on public policy participation

Toronto, ON – Today, the federal government announced a commitment to introduce new legislation this fall that would ensure that charities can participate, without restriction, on policies related to their charitable missions. This means that groups who work on the environment would be able to advocate for its protection, and groups that work on poverty would be free to advocate for policies to eliminate poverty. Partisan advocacy in favour of a political party would continue to be banned.

Congratulations are due to Minister Bill Morneau and Minister Diane Lebouthillier for committing to legally end the muzzling of charities. Allowing charities to speak out on important public issues will lead to a better Canada.

This announcement comes on the same day that the government also filed an appeal to the Ontario Superior Court’s ruling which declared Canada Revenue Agency’s charity rules around public policy participation to be unconstitutional. This decision was sparked by a legal challenge brought by the charity, Canada Without Poverty.

The Canada Without Poverty decision was clear and important, further underlining the need for urgent action by government. We do not support the decision to appeal the ruling but recognize that the federal government is making moves to address the issues raised in it. We support Canada Without Poverty in their effort to demonstrate the inherent unfairness of restrictions on charities and to underline the need for change.

We are looking forward to the government introducing and passing a new law and in doing so, fulfilling the Prime Minister’s promise to “allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment, and modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors”.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca) Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

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For more information or to arrange interviews contact: Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, skohls@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext 232, 416-885-7847 (cell)