Intelligence watchdog investigating CRA following Islamophobia claims

Of note:

One of Canada’s intelligence review bodies has launched an investigation into the Canada Revenue Agency’s work on charities in response to allegations of bias and Islamophobia.

On Tuesday, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) — the watchdog set up to monitor the activities of Canada’s national security and intelligence bodies — released a letter it sent to Bob Hamilton, commissioner of the CRA, announcing its intention to probe the department’s review and analysis wing.

That CRA division is tasked with making sure registered charities aren’t being used to finance terrorism. It has been accused of unfairly targeting Muslim charities for audits based on questionable grounds.

NSIRA said the review will focus on the CRA program’s “national security activities and decision-making relating to registered Canadian charities, to assess their reasonableness, necessity and compliance with the law.”

National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said she welcomes the investigation.

“The government of Canada stands with and supports Muslim communities across Canada and reaffirms its commitment to take action to denounce and tackle Islamophobia, hate-fuelled violence and systemic discrimination whenever and wherever it occurs,” says a media statement from her office.

A 2021 report by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group said CRA’s review and analysis division carried out audits “with little accountability or independent review.”

The national civil liberties coalition reported that 75 per cent of the organizations whose charitable status was revoked following division audits from 2008 to 2015 were Muslim charities, and at least another four have seen their status pulled since then.

NSIRA will have access to classified information

One of those charities, the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), said a years-long audit has been plagued by bias and Islamophobia. The charity,  which describes itself as Canada’s largest grassroots Muslim organization, is pursuing a Charter of Rights challenge.

Source: Intelligence watchdog investigating CRA following Islamophobia claims

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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