Statement in Support of PEN Canada

The Canada Revenue Agency has launched a political-activities audit of PEN Canada (see CBC story for details). The Board of the CCWWP has released this statement in support of PEN.

Given that the democratic reason for the CRA’s existence is the fair application of tax law across all sectors of Canadian financial activity, the CCWWP roundly condemns the Conservative government for allowing the effect of harassment to stand regarding the CRA audit of PEN Canada. Such a use of the CRA can only be understood as structurally ideological, unfair and undemocratic. Whether or not the audit of PEN Canada has been deliberately deployed in retaliation for that organization’s Freedom of Information requests, the political consequence of the audit cannot but send a chill through any institution that includes as part of its mandate the work of democratic critique. This effective undermining of Canada’s charitable institutions must be understood as a ploy by the reigning government to undermine those of its citizens who passionately desire a true and well-functioning democracy. Unless they are either fools or Machiavels, the CRA and the government in power must know that the appearance alone of harassment functions as a threat, and will have profoundly deleterious effects on the state of Canadian democracy. The CRA and the Conservative government should do everything within their power to avoid even the slightest trace of such an appearance. Particularly, given the fact that PEN does its important work with a small staff and meagre budget, this kind of political/financial harassment is unconscionable.

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