NDP calls for urgent meeting of Commons committee on charity audits – National

OTTAWA – The New Democrats are pressing for an unusual summer meeting of a parliamentary committee to clear the air over the auditing of charities for their political activities.

New Democrat MP Murray Rankin, the party critic for national revenue, wants the finance committee to convene before Parliament resumes in six weeks, calling the matter urgent.

Rankin has written to James Rajotte, Conservative chair of the committee, saying there are too many allegations that the audits are being used to silence opponents of the Harper government.

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Since the spring of 2012, the Canada Revenue Agency has launched 52 audits of charities for their political activities, after the government ordered the special probe and eventually provided some $13.4 million for the initiative.

The first wave of audits in 2012-2013 targeted environmental groups who have opposed the government’s energy and pipeline policies, but the initiative has since expanded to cover other groups who fight poverty, provide international aid and promote human rights.

Many of the groups say the audits have caused an “advocacy chill,” preventing them from speaking out for fear of aggravating the auditors and potentially losing their coveted charitable status.

©2014The Canadian Press