Tell Canada to Change Its Anti-Animal Charity Laws
The Canada Revenue Agency's recently released “proposed guidance for The Promotion of Animal Welfare and Charitable Registration” would essentially deny most animal welfare and animal rights groups government status as charities. According to the CRA guidelines, "Promoting the welfare of animals is only charitable when it results in a benefit to humans. Purposes that benefit animals, but not humans, are not charitable.” Furthermore, "To be charitable, the benefit to humans must always take precedence over any benefit to animals."
The CRA proposal also seriously stifles political engagement by animal groups. As this excerpt shows, animal charities would be effectivley penalized if they choose to exercise their rights as citizens: "Examples of political, and therefore unacceptable, purposes for charities or applicants promoting the welfare of animals include: to pressure the federal, provincial, or territorial governments to ban or restrict a particular hunting practice or consumer product to promote legislation to abolish the use of animals for scientific research or to ban euthanasia of animals to strengthen the laws protecting wildlife."
What does it mean exactly for a group to lose its government-recognized status as a charity in Canada? As explained by Lesley Fox of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, "Being a registered charity makes it possible for an organization to issue tax receipts to donors. Nonprofits without charitable status are unable to issue tax receipts. Charitable status also makes it possible for an organization to qualify for considerably more grants and government programs." Her organization lost its charitable status due to its anti-fur lobbying, and as a result saw funding drop by 50 percent.
If Canada's 700 or so pro-animal groups are deemed unworthy of being deemed charities by the Canada Revenue Agency, animal activists throughout the Great White North will find themselves essentially neutered. However, the CRA's proposed guidance is just that: proposed. They are soliciting comments and opinions about the guidance. So take the time to let the Canada Revenue Agency know how you feel. But hurry. The deadline for accepting comments is March 31, 2011.
- Canada Revenue Agency
- Minister of National Revenue
The Canada Revenue Agency's recently released “proposed guidance for The Promotion of Animal Welfare and Charitable Registration” would essentially deny most animal welfare and animal rights groups government status as charities and would stifle their rights as citizens to pursue political engagement. I urge you to reject this proposal and allow animal protection groups to qualify for charitable status.
According to the proposed CRA guidelines, "Promoting the welfare of animals is only charitable when it results in a benefit to humans. Purposes that benefit animals, but not humans, are not charitable.” Protecting animals does benefit human society as a whole. The link between animal abuse and violence toward humans is well-established; groups that help identify and put an end to animal abuse are also making communities safer for people. In addition, animals, both domestic and wild, provide many benefits to people, ranging from enhancing quality of life to measurable physiological improvements, such as better fitness and lowered blood pressure.
Further, as living creatures who feel pain, animals deserve to be protected from suffering and, as such, organizations dedicated to preventing that suffering deserve full charitable status. Gandhi famously said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
I urge the CRA not to pass the recently proposed guidelines, and to instead expand the criteria for a government-recognized charity to include groups dedicated to building a better Canada for animals.
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