Ever since the federal government -- in particular the Canadian Revenue Agency -- started to investigate the funding activities of far-left organiations like Tides Canada and the organizations they fund, Canada's far-left has been losing its collective mind.
The jig, as it turns out, is up. They thought they had found the perfect way to cheat the system, and use the tax benefits accorded to charitable organizations to fund their political activities. Now, becuase people have finally started paying attention to the gross abuses of the Income Tax Act,
The money laundering practices of Tides Canada, as well as the openly partisan activities of the David Suzuki Foundation, have drawn attention and fire because they are abuses of the law.
But when plumbing through the complaints writers like Jeff Gailus and David Climenhaga (who Gailus cites in his hitpiece), it becomes clear that it really comes down to one thing and one thing alone: that they don't like the Fraser Institute's political views, and that is the sole basis of their complaint. As mentioned here before, they also deeply resent it for its success.
In the great tradition of left wing nut jobs everywhere, Gailus turns to other left-wing work in order to justify his definition of the Fraser Institute as an "inerently political oragnization." In particular, he quotes Simon Fraser University professor Simon Gutstein accordingly: "The Fraser Institute is a small cog in a global wheel of reaction designed to roll back the democratic gains of the 20th century."
Aside from being pure nonsense, this definition is also politically-loaded. Which should come as no surprise whatsoever -- Gailus' entire article is deliberately designed to be politically loaded, Which would be OK, if he weren't targetting the Fraser Institute for an entirely baseless and vexatious audit.
For one thing, when writing his column, Gailus clearly never bothered to research what activities are permitted under the Income Tax Act, and which are not. The resulting revelations are very illuminating, and very clearly do not support his argument.
For example, Gailus points to comments by former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein that his government followed the policy recommendations of the Fraser Institute. And yet, according to the Canadian Revenue Agency, this doesn't impact on the Fraser Institute's charitable status: "When a political party or candidate for public office supports a policy that is also supported by a charity, the charity is not prevented from promoting this policy." That doesn't change once a particular party or candidate -- in this case, Klein -- is in office, provided they haven't endorsed or supported that particular candidate.
Charitable organziations are allowed to take positions on issues of public interest, so long as:
- it does not explicitly connect its views to any political party or candidate for public office;
- the issue is connected to its purposes;
- its views are based on a well-reasoned position;
- public awareness campaigns do not become the charity's primary activity.
It's just another piece in his demagogic Jenga game. Gailus argues that the Fraser Institute should be audited for the sole reason of -- get this -- he doesn't like the Fraser Institute. That's pretty much it.
It's a shocking analysis that basically amounts to "rules be damned, they should be auited because I disagree with them." And if this -- someone disagreeing with a particular think tank --became the basis for denying charitable status to think tanks, it wouldn't stop at the Fraser Institute, no matter how much Gailus may fantasize that it would.
By the standard he would like to apply to the Fraser Institute, Gailus' test of chairtability would also inevitably sink the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Pembina Institute, the Parkland Institute, and especially the Broadbent Institute. None of Canada's left-wing think tanks would stand a chance. The Climenhaga/Gailus test would shut each and every one of them down. It would, but fortunately this is not the test the CRA will use in relation to Tides Canada, in relation to the David Suzuki foundation, or in relation, and would not use in relation to the Fraser Institute or Ethical Oil (the latter of which the CRA would be largely disinterested in because it's not a registered charity) if it did decide to audit them.
Gailus' work amounts to nothing more than the kind of fact-free analysis that has driven a certain panic among the far-left about the Fraser Institute. Before this, it was the yellow journalism of Gerald Caplan and the Vancouver Observer, pointing out that the Fraser Institute received $500,000 in funding from the Koch foundation, but never actually bothered to contact the Fraser Institute to find out what the money was used for.
For the record, the Koch foundation grant was in support of the Fraser Institute's annual economic freedom index. Extremely innocuous stuff, except to those on the left who despise economic freedom because it impedes their ideological goals.
With the left becoming more and more frantic as more and more of the liberties they've taken with the rules come to light, no one should expect the witch hunt against the Fraser Institute to fade quietly -- or any time soon. The best anyone can do is to continue to counter those trying to lead the charge against the Fraser Intitute, and continue challenging them to explain just what they think is wrong.
More often than not, they can't name a single thing. When some, like Jeff Gailus, attempt to do so, they inevitably come up empty. Which is forever a further reminder of what this is about:
The Fraser Institute hasn't broken any rules. They just hate it for its opinions, and resent it for its success.