Posted on 31 May 2012
Ottawa – Senator James S. Cowan, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, today launched an online petition to pressure the government to give charities an opportunity to defend their reputation, and to uphold their right to speak out on issues of importance to Canadians.
On February 28th, Conservative Senator Nicole Eaton launched a Senate inquiry on “the involvement of foreign foundations in Canada’s domestic affairs”. During the course of the debate, Conservative senators accused Canadian charities of being “influence peddlers”, and even suggested charities might “take money from Al Qaeda, the Hamas or the Taliban”. Senator Mike Duffy even went so far as calling them “anti-Canadian”. Conservative Cabinet ministers then entered the fray, accusing Canadian charities of “money-laundering”.
“It is wrong for Conservatives to use their position in the Senate or in Cabinet to make serious accusations without providing an opportunity for those accused to present their side of the story. In our opinion, it is that kind of behaviour that is anti-Canadian,” stated Senator Cowan.
On May 8th, Senator Cowan moved a motion in the Senate calling on the Standing Committee on National Finance to hold hearings which would provide charities that have been attacked an opportunity to respond on the record. To date, the Conservative majority in the Senate has refused to support this motion. Instead, they are “ragging the puck”, repeatedly adjourning debate in order to avoid the issue.
“We believe that if the government has a legitimate concern about lobbying and advocacy, whether on environmental or other public policy issues, we should look into it – but we have to do it seriously and fairly. That means we should not only look at charities; we need to also look at the lobbying and advocacy work done by others, including corporations,” stated Senator Mitchell, the Liberal Senate’s Environment critic.
Liberal senators are inviting all Canadians to sign the petition and support fair and balanced hearings into the important work of Canadian registered charities.
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For more information:
Office of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate