This policy targets a specific set of charities with views that differ from the government’s position on a particular issue. It is a threat to freedom of expression in a pluralist society and sets a troubling precedent for the politicization of charitable status in Canada.
Charities in Canada may operate for the following purposes: the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion, or other purposes that benefit the community. The government has limited capacity to meet all the needs of communities across the country. Given this limitation, private citizens organize and engage in a range of charitable activities to serve their fellow Canadians. One of the primary benefits of becoming a registered charity is the ability to provide individual donors with charitable tax credits, thus incentivizing more giving. Fundamental to this system is that charities — even and especially those with different views from the government — are equally eligible for charitable status.
In a pluralistic society characterized by a diversity of worldviews and political opinions, there should be wide latitude for charitable organizations to live out the implications of their ultimate commitments without fear of discrimination by governments. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and secular organizations should have a level playing field with respect to serving the larger public. Charitable status should not be held hostage to a mandated political orthodoxy which may change after the next government is elected.