Reflecting on the CRA audits of Muslim charities

December 18, 2023 | The Philanthropist

The Muslim Association of Canada audit became symbolic of the systematic targeting of Islamic charities, writes Abdul Nakua, and the lack of widespread condemnation from the philanthropic sector raises troubling questions.

As news broke of the Quebec City mosque massacre on the evening of January 29, 2017, the reaction was swift and strong across the Muslim community, and indeed across the country. The next day, vigils were held near ground zero and in communities from coast to coast to coast. On that morning, the office of Premier Kathleen Wynne reached out to plan a visit to the Muslim Association of Canada’s (MAC) Masjid Toronto. While I was working out the details with the premier’s staff for the reception, just one floor up from where the premier would be speaking our executive director and other key executives of MAC were being interviewed by a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audit team. Despite the terror of the night before, the auditors were intent on starting interviews first thing that morning. As Wynne made her way to the podium to address the congregation, I watched members of the audit team quietly making their way out of the building. No one among the audit team’s supervisors thought it was a bad idea to continue with the site visit and the interview at this moment of grief.

The response to the tragic Fort McMurray wildfires was markedly different. The audit team’s leader postponed planned May 2016 site visits to MAC chapters in Edmonton and Calgary out of respect for those affected by the fires. They were conducted months later.

These were some of the 30 MAC site visits across the country conducted by the CRA’s Review and Analysis Division (RAD) during a 13-month span starting in December 2015. During those visits, 27 interviews were conducted and 746 gigabytes of data extracted, including 181 gigabytes of email messages alone, comprising almost 500,000 emails. The audit included 63,523 files and more than one million financial transactions. Even with such voluminous documentation, it became clear to MAC that there were Islamophobic overtones governing the manner in which the audit was being conducted. This was evident in the types of questions being asked, the way data was collected, and how the site visits were managed.

Five years later, those fears crystalized in the CRA’s…..

Read the full article: Reflecting on the CRA audits of Muslim charities

Abdul Nakua is an executive of the Muslim Association of Canada. He serves on the board of directors for the Ontario Nonprofit Sector. Association of Canada and is a lecturer at the University of Toronto.

The Philanthropist Journal is an online journal for those interested and engaged in the charitable and non-profit sector in Canada. 

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