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News and discussion on implementing risk management

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Advocacy and Public Policy

“All or substantially all” – A look at CRA’s political activities test

Given that the Minister of National Revenue is considering the results of the recent Consultation Panel on the Political Activity of Charities which provided suggestions on the political activities test it may be worthwhile to look at a specific aspect of the test which relates it back to the related business rules (and social enterprise). […]

 

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Church and religious organizations: Maybe Adam and Eve could have appealed their sentence

We are often contacted by charities seeking to insulate themselves from potential legal action by disgruntled former members of their organization. This typically results from situations where the individual has been kicked out of the organization for specific misconduct. Although, for the most part, these disputes result in acrimonious name calling from time to time, these matters are litigated. A recent decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal is one circumstance where an irate former member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses took the matter to Court.

 

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Political activities: Consultations may have side effects

As our readers know, the new government has taken steps to revamp the restrictions on political activities by charities, by dismantling the political activities audit program and by promising a new approach following consultation with the public and members of the charities industry. It is important, however, to note that the changes may not only effect the charity realm as Nova Scotia Community Interest Corporations have similar restrictions.

 

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Cannabis legislation and regulation

The Liberal Party of Canada made the legalization of marijuana a priority during the 2015 federal election campaign and now the Liberal government has taken a step toward enacting that promise. On June 30, 2016, the Government of Canada launched a Task Force to advise it on the design of a legislative and regulatory framework for legal access to cannabis. The prescribed framework was the Government’s commitment in the 2015 Speech From the Throne to legalize, regulate, and restrict access to cannabis.

 

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Political activities law: Charity brings new Charter challenge

When the Liberals came into power last year, the new Minister of National Revenue announced that she was putting a halt to the “political activities” audit of charities that the previous administration had been conducting for the past few years. In practice, this meant that the charities in line to be audited under the program were given a reprieve, but those that were already in the course of being audited were not. One of the latter charities, Canada Without Poverty, is now bringing a constitutional challenge against the political activities law.

 

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Fraud: Why do people commit it?

An interesting interview with Eugene Soltes, the Jakurski Family Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, appeared in the Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge publication. According to the school, “his research focuses on how individuals and organizations confront and overcome challenging situations”. “Why White-Collar Criminals Commit Their Crimes” is an ‘author interview’, Soltes having written Why they do it: Inside the mind of the white-collar criminal. I have not read the book, but suggest that those with continuing responsibility for detecting and/or investigating fraud might want to do so.

 

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Charities political activities: CRA consulting on rules

The Government of Canada has committed to modernizing the rules governing the charitable sector to ensure that they are operating in a regulatory environment that respects and encourages their contribution to society. One of the areas they are looking into is clarifying the rules governing charities political activities.

 

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Lobbying: Considerations for not-for-profits

There have been many recent changes in lobbying law. Some jurisdictions, like New Brunswick, have passed lobbying legislation, while other jurisdictions, like Ontario, have made significant changes to existing legislation. Here are four things not–for–profits must consider.

 

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Israeli arrests provide lessons for Canadian charities

For most Canadians and Canadian Charities the Anti-Terrorism rules are a red herring to be reviewed only in the rarest of situations, if at all. However, recent events in Israel provide some motivation for Canadian Charities doing work abroad to take a closer look at these rules. According to international news reports the Israeli authorities have arrested the Gazan head of an international Christian charity on the allegation that he was funneling international aid donations to Hamas.

 

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The art of restraint

A restrictive covenant is a class of legal “promise” imposing a restriction on one party for the benefit of another. When drafted correctly, restrictive covenants are an invaluable tool to protect your business.

 

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Evolving employment contract law, political activities and charities

Non-profit organizations may not consider it priority number one, but reviewing your legal compliance will protect your organization’s finances, your reputation, your directors and donors—even your organization—from shifting legal sands.

 

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Top 10 most read Inside Internal Controls posts published in 2014 and Season’s Greetings

The holidays are upon us and it is time to take a well deserved break. We are signing off for 2014 with a list of the top 10 most read posts published in 2014. Although Canada’s anti-spam legislation dominated the list, accessibility, internal controls and charities were also very topical.

 

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Court confirms that religious charities must actively promote a religion

Earlier this month, the Federal Court of Appeal was asked to consider whether the Minister of National Revenue had erred in confirming the decision of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to deny the Humanics Institute’s application for charitable status. CRA denied the application on the basis that: 1) The Humanics Institute’s purposes were too broad; 2) the activities stated in support of its purposes were not charitable; and 3) it did not demonstrate that it would have direction and control over certain of its resources, as its proposed funding of a foreign scholarship could not be considered to be the organization’s “own activities” or the funding of a qualified donee.

 

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What charites & non-profits can learn from the Ministry of Labour blitz on unpaid internships

Volunteers and unpaid interns are not covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) and therefore are not subject to minimum wage and other requirements of the legislation. However, on September 30, 2014, the Ministry of Labour released the results of its recent blitz where it was determined that a number of unpaid interns in various sectors of the economy were actually employees covered by the ESA, and accordingly, entitled to minimum wages, vacation pay and other protections afforded to employees under the ESA. While the Ministry of Labour did not specifically target charities and non-profits in this blitz, there are many lessons to be learned due to the large number of volunteers and unpaid interns working in these sectors.

 

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NPOs’ internal procedures are subject to judicial review

Within the microcosm of a not-for-profit organization, where internal bylaws and rules are generated and enforced by the organization itself, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that there is always an external source of recourse in the form of judicial review. The officers of an organization must adhere to procedural fairness when carrying out administration functions. If they violate or misapply the bylaws, they may find themselves in court having their actions scrutinized by a judge.

 

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