Islamophobia in Plain Sight: Why the Ombudsperson’s Review Missed the Mark

Mississauga | March 30, 2023

On March 27, 2023 the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson, Mr. François Boileau, issued his final report, Charity Begins with Fairness: More to Explore, outlining his findings and recommendations after a year-long study of claims of bias and Islamophobia against the CRA.

The Muslim charitable sector is disappointed but not surprised by the outcome of today’s report by the Taxpayer Ombudsperson. It was well known from the start that the Ombudsperson did not have the authority to conduct this review.    

Despite this, the Prime Minister mandated this review, which has done little to address the underlying problems that led to the allegations in the first place. We are especially worried that the review was flawed from the beginning:

  • The scope was set between 2017 and 2021, but many Muslim charities were audited and revoked between 2010-2016.
  • The Ombudsperson has failed to truly expand his review to determine the existence of Islamophobia in CRA audits. He did not leverage information that was available on the public record, such as administrative fairness letters which are tainted with reliance on Islamophobic sources and problematic framing. The Ombudsman did not gather information relevant to Muslim charities impacted by RAD audits. The report did not identify, at the very least, the charities whose status was withdrawn or suspended by RAD.

The Ombudsperson’s review was blind to Islamophobia in plain sight. Recent research findings published in the Philanthropist of revoked Muslim charities evidenced that the CRA’s allegations of terrorism financing against such charities often rely on biased opinions from terrorism experts, policies from right-wing think tanks, and distorted facts from Islamophobic media sources. This has led to systemic targeting of Muslim charities and a series of discriminatory revocations. 

Sadly, the Ombudsperson report is unsatisfactory and neither gives insight into the underlying reasons of Islamophobia nor proposes solutions. It reveals that the government is not serious about addressing concerns of the Muslim community, despite the Prime Minister’s commitment in the 2021 Islamophobia Summit.

We urge the Government of Canada to take immediate effective action by suspending RAD and placing a moratorium on audits of all Muslim-led charities. 

The Muslim charitable sector calls on the Prime Minister  to demonstrate his commitment to upholding the rights and freedoms of all Canadians, regardless of their religious affiliation, by ensuring that government policies and practices are fair, equitable, and non-discriminatory. 

Lastly, we are grateful for the leadership of the nonprofit sector, which has called on the federal government to act swiftly and decisively in response to concerns identified by the Taxpayer’s Ombudsperson’s investigation into Islamophobia within the CRA.


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