The Canada Con Revenue Agency is bothering birdwatchers now.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists pictured at left (membership 300, annual revenues $16,000) got a stern letter from the CRA just after they sent a letter to two federal cabinet ministers complaining about government-approved neonicotinoid insecticides that damage bee colonies.
CBC: “The stern missive says the group must take appropriate action as necessary ‘including refraining from undertaking any partisan activities,’ with the ominous warning that ‘this letter does not preclude any future audits.'”
The CRA has a special $13.4 million dollar program to audit political activity in charities, which are restricted to using under 10% of their natural resources for political activities and none for partisan activities.
Last Thursday, Stephen Harper and 100 invited guests attended a Q&A session hosted by another registered conservation charity — the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (membership over 100,000, snazzy website photo above).
The OFAH, a wonderful group dedicated to the preservation of all things angled and hunted, has boasted Stephen Harper as keynote speaker at their AGMs. Harper was accompanied on Thursday by Con MP Robert Sopuck, founder and chair of the Tory Hunting and Angling Caucus. They discussed “conservation.” I’m guessing bees probably didn’t come up.
I wonder if the OFAH ever worries about getting any stern letters regarding partisan/political activity from the CRA.
Their lobbying activities for the year 2014 include the DFO, Environment Canada, Dept of Justice/Public Safety, and Transport Canada. Issues lobbied about include:
- Indian Act –land claims and intervenor status/funding
- Criminal Code and Firearms Act — long gun registry, licensing issues, amnesty, amendments to the Firearms Act and Criminal Code
- UN Firearms Marking regulations, Destruction of registry records
- Canada Food Inspection Act — invasive species
According to their own published list, here’s the OFAH’s political activities from years past, regarding guns, and lobbying against gun registries:
- Radio campaigns in Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, and London opposing C-68 (a cost of over $100,000);
- Full-page ads in Maclean’s magazine and other consumer magazines opposing the bill;
- Over $30,000 worth of advertising in major market newspapers opposing the bill;
- Ads in The Hill Times (media for MP’s, Senators, and senior policy makers);
- Television features about the dangers and costs of the bill;
- Produced more postcards than any other group in Canada opposing the bill;
- Generated thousands of names on petitions opposing the bill to the House of Commons;
- Were successful in lobbying the Ontario government to legally challenge the bill;
- Helped fund the Alberta court challenge;
- Provided legal advice to the Alberta Fish and Game Association for their court case;
- Lobbied, and continue to lobby, individual MP’s and individual Senators;
- Presentations made to both House of Commons and Senate Justice Committees;
- Package and presentation made to the Ministry of Health Conference “Violence as a Public Health Issue”;
- Participated in hundreds of media interviews and news releases fighting the bill;
- Participated in urban phone-in radio shows to educate the public to the dangers of this legislation;
- Played a lead role in the National Coalition of Provincial and Territorial Wildlife Federations, which also fought the legislation;
- Sent C-68 information directly to OFAH members, hunter education instructors, and retailers, to encourage them to fight the bill;
- Principle participants in several public rallies, including Fed Up I and Fed Up II;
- Produced and distributed over 200,000 “election” bumper stickers;
- Produced tens of thousands “election” lawn signs;
- Encouraged OFAH member clubs and OFAH zones to run all-candidates nights;
- Produced and distributed various information brochures, such as “Bringing You More Facts About Bill C-68,” and “Bill C-68 Canada’s New Firearms Act”;
- Continue to produce and post information on our web site and other media sources, including Angler and Hunter Hotline, Call of the Loon, and Hunter Education News;
- Communications being sent to the legal counsel for the Justice Department;
- Currently working on further communications with the Chiefs of Police;
- Met with the Auditor General prior to the release of her report;
- Met with the federal Solicitor General and urged him to scrape the registry;
- Developed a firearms motion against the registry which has been passed by 204 municipalities to date;
- Worked with Opposition parties to question the government;
- Filed Freedom of Information requests with the Justice Minister;
- Met with federal Solicitor General to review reasons for canceling registry;
- Met with Canadian Police Association seeking their support:
- Met with Peter MacKay, Deputy Federal Conservative Leader;
- Met with staff from Paul Martin’s office urging them to scrap the registry;
- Met with Prime Minister for two hours to emphasize need to scrap registry
- Repeated conversations with police unions across Canada — worked with Calgary Police Association to get motion supporting the scrapping of the registry on the floor of Canadian Professional Police Association national meeting;
- Arranged for Calgary Police Association, who oppose registry, to meet with federal Minister charged with reviewing the registry;
- OFAH developed and made available to clubs across Ontario lawn signs and bumper stickers against Bill C-68 for use during 2004 federal election;
- Press release March 14, 2005 after Mountie’s killed in Alberta calling for scrapping of the registry;
- Filing Requests for Information against federal government, various departments, to determine how much money is being funneled towards anti-gun groups;
- March 2006, OFAH engages in media campaign blowing the whistle on failures in the firearms registry by demonstrating conclusively that the system can be hacked;
- In total, OFAH issued 8 press releases on firearms in 2005; 8 in 2006, 5 in 2007 and 1 in 2008;
- In total, OFAH included 7 articles in Hotline in 2005; 13 in 2006 and 6 in 2007 on firearms;
- In 2006, the OFAH was appointed to a seat on the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee by federal Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day, which they continue to hold.
- In 2007, the OFAH helped convince the federal government to suspend the hated UN gun marking proposal, resulting in a two year delay in the implementation of the program, with the likelihood that it will be permanently abolished;
- Fall 2007, OFAH articles and press release in opposition to inspection of older firearms owners in City of Toronto;
- Through our membership on the CFAC, the OFAH continues to push for a registry of prohibited offenders, instead of a registry of legal firearms owners and is successful in working with other members of the Committee in convincing the government to change the regulations to allow expired POL owners to renew their POLs instead of having to qualify for PALs which many don’t want or need (March 2008) — This will benefit over 108,000 firearms owners with expired POLs across the country;
- March 2008 conference call with CFO and staff over lack of communications with firearms community regarding inspections, ranges, actions of staff, etc. — OFAH gets agreement from CFO for quarterly meetings with OFAH, CSSA and CSAAA, two hosted by CFO, two by OFAH;
- April 26, 2008 meeting of CFO and representatives from 270 ranges/gun clubs in Barrie — OFAH sending three staff;
- 2008 — appearance before the City of Toronto Planning Committee on the proposed banning of shooting ranges and clubs from public land;
- Press releases and campaigns in support of Bills C21 and C24;
- Press releases and campaigns in support of Bills C301 and S5;
- Appearance on CTV National in support of bills to scrap long gun registry;
- Current online national petition with partners and affiliates to scrap the long gun registry;
- Press release and campaign in support of Bill C-391, newest bill to scrap long gun registry;
- National online petition in support of Bill C-391 to scrap gun registry;
- Letters to all police unions in Ontario seeking support for scrapping registry;
- Three sets of letters to federal MP’s urging them to support Bill C-391;
- Press release against release of firearms information to polling company;
- Press release against latest Toronto Police Service inspection of legal, law abiding firearms owners;
- National radio interviews on Corus radio network on both breach of confidentiality by Canadian Firearms Centre and Toronto Police Service inspection of legal, law abiding firearms owners;
- Prime Minister as keynote speaker at OFAH 81st AGM on scrapping long gun registry;
- Met with 26 Opposition MP’s prior to the vote on Bill C-391, which passed by 164 to 137;
- Three national panel interviews with CTV, CBC and “Goldhawk Live” opposite Coalition for Gun Control;
- Part of Prime Minister’s Office strategy team on C-391;
- Appearance before Standing Committee on Public Safety on C-391 anticipated in Spring 2010;
- Appearance by Candice Hoeppner, M.P., sponsor of Bill C-391 at 82nd OFAH AGM;
- Canadice Hoeppner and OFAH met with Assembly of First Nations seeking support on bill;
- Sent letters to all Ontario MP’s in March 2010 with 17 page rebuttal to claims made by Coalition for Gun Control;
- Acting as one of the spokespersons for 27 member group of the Outdoor Network representing 500,000 members across the country;
- Appearing as a witness at the hearings on Bill C-391, May 2010;
- Interviews with more than 50 media sources including Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Globe & Mail, National Post;
- Appeared twice to debate Coalition for Gun Control on CBC National “Power & Politics”;
- Appeared twice to debate Coalition for Gun Control on CTV National “Powerplay”;
- Appeared on “Goldhawk Live” to debate Coalition for Gun Control.
- Appeared on Access Ontario;
- Appeared on “The Agenda” on TVO to debate Coalition for Gun Control and Toronto Police Chief;
- Appeared on “Roy Green Show”;
- Appeared on CHCH TV;
- Appeared on “Outdoor Radio Journal”;
- Appeared on CBC Radio Canada;
- Organized five town hall meetings with Candice Hoeppner in northern Ontario ridings;
- Drafted national online petition presented in Parliament with almost 50,000 signatures;
- Issued 2011 Federal election questionnaire;
- 2011 bumper sticker “Scrap the wasteful long gun registry” campaign; and
- Working with Prime Minister’s Office and Public Safety Minister on draft legislation to scrap the long gun registry.
Whew, what a list! Good thing this registered conservation charity never mentioned bees.
But maybe it wasn’t just the bees that got the Kitchener-Waterloo birders in trouble.
Last year in October, amid their website news about backyard bird counts and butterfly nature walks and how to build a tiny house from scratch and worries about weakening of the Endangered Species Act, one of them wrote a letter pointing out to the rest of the group that a rupture from the nearby Brantford 38-year old Enbridge pipeline, newly slated to transport “bitumen” through a “line for which it was not designed . . . could result in serious environmental problems.”
Well there ya go. They mentioned Enbridge and bitumen. Once.
It’s 10 years old now but here’s a very good article, co-authored by Joyce Arthur, pointing out that the 10% rule for charities is ridiculous given that advocacy for their causes is more effective than just providing services. But as she said way back then: why isn’t it evenly applied? Why do gun advocacy charities get a break from Canada Revenue Agency that environmental groups don’t?
“It seems the rules limiting advocacy are more stringently applied to charities who champion environmental protection than to those so-called charities that represent the hunting lobby.”