Muslim charities want a tough talk with the CRA

May 20, 2024

This spring, a meeting was held between leaders of the Muslim philanthropic sector and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to address fundamental questions around the targeting of Muslim-led charities by intrusive audits — ostentatiously, the start of a dialogue to address the tension between the sector and the Charities Directorate that has been building for more than a decade.

Leaders who attended the session organized by the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto were hoping to engage in an open and transparent dialogue. They were seeking clarity about why a disproportionate number of Muslim-led charities have been selected for audit by the CRA’s research and analysis division.

They expected their concerns around how the charities were selected and how the audits were conducted to be addressed. They wanted to learn what guidelines the CRA uses to ensure the audit process is transparent and how the CRA ensures its audit decisions and compliance approaches are fair as well as timely, as some audits remained open for more than eight years.

What followed was disappointing. The main meeting featured five panelists and pre-selected questions. No follow-up questions were allowed from the audience. The second meeting was a more focussed session with selected sub-sector leaders and was more open. The meetings were conducted under the Chatham House Rule, meaning off-the-record.

An open dialogue can bring clarity to these questions. It can also provide a platform for better policies and can promote public-sector integrity by focusing on transparency, accountability and fairness.

Those hoping for an open and provocative encounter were left underwhelmed by the depth of the conversation. At the center of these audits is a little-known division (RAD) charged with investigating terrorist financing in the charitable sector. RAD audits trace their roots to reactionary post-9/11 anti-terrorism legislation and policies.

Those audits sent a chill across the Muslim charitable sector for many years. However, they started to get public attention only after the release of two reports that exposed troubling systemic biases.

Read full article: Muslim charities want a tough talk with the CRA | Canada’s National Observer: Climate News

Abdussalam Nakua is an executive with the Muslim Association of Canada. He served on the board of directors for the Ontario Nonprofit Network, and is a member of the non-profit sector’s Equitable Recovery Collective. He also is a member of the external advisory committee for Statistics Canada’s project on non-profit organizations and their diversity.

With an audience of millions, Canada’s National Observer (CNO) covers issues and challenges associated with climate, such as public health, disinformation, corporate overreach and environmental justice.

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