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Parliament reports on terrorism: Items of interest to charities

Monday, July 20, 2015

This spring both the House of Commons and the Senate have been actively studying terrorism, including the security threats facing Canada as well as terrorist financing. The resulting two reports contain recommendations that, if implemented, would directly impact the compliance obligations and monitoring of charities. Imagine Canada will continue to monitor this issue to assess the intended and unintended consequences for charities.

Background

On July 8, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence tabled its interim report, Countering the Terrorist Threat in Canada, on security threats facing Canada. The Committee made 25 recommendations, three of which directly impact charities. The recommendations are that:

  • The government establishes a publicly accessible database of those organizations which have had their charitable status removed on the basis of links to terrorism.
  • When the Government removes charitable status on the basis of terrorism, it holds individuals responsible for being party to, or providing material support, for terrorist activity.
  • The government develops measures to prevent foreign funds from entering Canada, where such funds, donors or recipients have been linked to radicalization.

The recommendations made by the Senate Committee that directly reference charities are consistent with but arguably more far-reaching than the recommendations made by the House of Commons Committee on Finance in its recently released report entitled Terrorist Financing in Canada and Abroad: Needed Federal Actions. The Finance Committee’s recommendations are that:

  • The federal government, in light of the numerous global cases of charities being used to raise and transfer funds for terrorist financing purposes, continue its efforts to bring increased transparency to the charitable sector in Canada. As part of these efforts, the Canada Revenue Agency should be encouraged to work more closely with charities to ensure their compliance with anti–terrorist financing laws. Increased transparency in the charities sector should not unnecessarily burden legitimate charities.
  • The federal government initiate a study to clarify the role of charitable organizations in order to protect legitimate entities in Canada’s charitable sector and to prevent charities from being used as vehicles for terrorist financing.

The government is normally required to respond to a House Committee report within 120 calendar days of its being tabled. There was no request for a government response from the Senate but the government may respond regardless. Given the upcoming election, however, it is unclear whether the government will respond prior to the election or thereafter. Imagine Canada will report back when government responses are available.

For more information, please contact Bill Schaper at publicpolicy@imaginecanada.ca

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