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An Ontario Superior Court judge is telling federal tax authorities they can't set limits on how much a charity devotes to political activity in a new ruling that grants a win to a national anti-poverty group.
Justice Ed Morgan said in the decision Tuesday that the Canada Revenue Agency could not justify a restriction on charities that they spend no more than 10 per cent of their time on political advocacy, calling it an unconstitutional limit on freedom of expression.
Morgan's ruling — which begins with the philosophical question, what is political? — says all political activities are charitable activities so long as groups advocate "in pursuit of the overall charitable purpose."
In the case before him, the purpose of group Canada Without Poverty was to lobby for changes to help homeless people.
The group's executive director, Leilani Farha, said in a statement the decision reinforces the importance of charities getting involved in the democratic process "and we look forward to the bright future for public policy dialogue in Canada."
Canada Without Poverty first launched the challenge in 2016 after being one of several groups caught up in what were seen as politically motivated audits of charities challenging policies under the previous Conservative government.
The group and others audited were threatened with the loss of their charitable status.
The Liberals have promised to change the rules, but have yet to provide an official response to an expert panel report from last year.