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.

Canadians Without Poverty's Director, @LeilaniFarha, said the decision reinforces the importance of charities getting involved in the democratic process. #CRA #Constitution #FreedomOfExpression #cdnpoli #charities #poverty

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.

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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.
What Justice Ed Morgan doesn't know and the CRA probably knows is that more than 10 per cent of the charities time is spent on political advocacy and the money behind this number is more like 50% of the charitable contributions/donations - more creative accounting at work. So this privilege comes on the backs of all taxpayers who may support another specific charity or none. And not everyone who files for charity status is one - maybe I should start my own charity. And declare only 10% of my time is devoted to political advocacy. Is the name "Trudeau Foundation" taken yet?

And does Justice Ed Morgan also not know how much time "charities" such as the Fraser Institute and the Canadian Taxpayers federation is spent on political advocacy? Still a need for you to start your own, Ron Bruce?

Equal sauce for goose and gander. If for profit entities are able, not only to write off their lobbying expenses as business expenses, and able to get away with other tax dodges then the not for profit and charitable sectors need the same tax relief and leeway as the unfair government tax subsidies afforded to "business". Democracy demands balance, equal treatment, equality of representation before the law.

It was ridiculous in the first place. If a charity wants to lobby as a way to address issues, and they are not aligned with a political party, then have at it hoss. It's just "some" partisan hacks who say they don't want them to be able to do that because their work goes against THEIR partisan goals. Talk about the pot calling the silverware black.

If a charity thinks that lobbying for more libertarian or conservative approaches to public policy will benefit the poor, it can't be called partisan either.

Thank you Justice Morgan! And thanks to the Canadian Press for sharing this good news. The CRA was actually involving itself in very scary politics by examining and threatening these charities regarding the expression of their opinions.

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