PRESS RELEASE: The Muslim Association of Canada is Challenging the CRA’s Audit Practices Tainted by Systemic Bias and Islamophobia 

Hearing for Muslim Association of Canada’s Charter Challenge Begins in Ontario Superior Court 

[En français]

April 3, 2023 | Toronto, ON – The Muslim Association of Canada’s (MAC) Charter Challenge takes a major step forward today as its hearing begins in the Ontario Superior Court. MAC’s Charter Challenge, which was launched in April 2022, addresses the deeply concerning question of whether the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) audit of MAC and its methods for assessing risks posed by Muslim charities are rooted in Islamophobia and violate Charter rights.  

MAC has been the subject of an audit by the CRA’s Review and Analysis Division (RAD) since 2015. MAC’s Charter Challenge aims to demonstrate that the RAD’s audit of the organization violated sections 2(a) (freedom of religion), 2(b) (freedom of expression), 2(d) (freedom of association) and 15 (equality) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

MAC is concerned for the following reasons:  

  • The RAD’s motivation to conduct the audit was based on systemic bias. The risk analysis used to select MAC for audit unfairly targets Muslim charities. Two extensive independent reports published by the University of Toronto’s Institute of Islamic Studies and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group found that RAD has implicit systemic biases and practices, and that RAD has unfairly targeted Muslim charities with prejudiced audits. 
  • The RAD’s audit process reflects systemic bias and Islamophobia. The RAD has perceived and interpreted normal interactions as deceptive, failing to understand Muslim religious practices on their own terms and applying standards that would never have been applied to non-Muslim charities. The RAD has not provided compelling evidence to support its claims, despite having completed an extensive review of MAC.  Instead, it has relied on old newspaper articles, blogs, and other unreliable sources that contain Islamophobic writings to support its findings.  

“The Muslim Association of Canada firmly believes that every Canadian has the right to practice their faith and express their beliefs without fear of discrimination,” said Mr. Sharaf Sharafeldin, MAC President-Strategy. “That is why we challenged CRA’s audit, which we believe was founded on Islamophobic sources and unfairly violates the rights of Canadian Muslims and the Muslim charity sector.” 

“The entire RAD audit of MAC, from starting point through to implementation, has involved systemic bias against Muslims and has had discriminatory effects,” said Geoff Hall, lawyer at McCarthy Tétrault LL. “MAC should not be in any way penalized because the audit has been irreparably tainted by Charter violations.”   

In recent years, there have been growing concerns about the CRA’s treatment of Muslim charities and organizations:  

  • The allegations of systemic Islamophobia practices by the CRA have been validated by several reports and Senate hearings.  
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged and promised to rectify systemic discrimination in the CRA.  
  • The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) recently announced an investigation into RAD and specifically its decision-making practices related to charities.  
  • Most recently, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson was unable to complete its review of the CRA and its treatment of registered charities led by racialized communities because the CRA would not provide sufficient information on how it assesses risks and its audit techniques.  

The CRA’s prejudice against Muslim charities has unfairly forced MAC (and many other Muslim charities) to spend time and resources defending against CRA audits, diverting important resources away from charitable work services for the communities that rely on them.  

MAC’s challenge will be a significant step towards addressing institutional Islamophobia in the Government of Canada and ensuring that Muslim Canadians are treated fairly and equitably under the law. MAC looks forward to presenting its case before the Ontario Superior Court and hopes for a fair and just resolution to this matter. 

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About MAC

The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) is a Canadian, independent, national, faith-based, charitable organization, that provides spaces, services and programs for holistic education and personal development for Canadian Muslims. MAC focuses on building communities and strengthening neighborhoods nation-wide, through services and collaborations with groups from different religious, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. MAC has chapters in 13 major cities across the country alongside 20 mosques and community centers, 30 full-time, part-time schools and daycares. In all, MAC serves over 150,000 community members across Canada.

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