Thursday, February 14, 2008

Why does the Suzuki Foundation still have charitable status?

As Lorrie Goldstein points out in today's Sun column (This is non-partisan?), Canada Revenue has a strict policy regarding charitable status:

CRA's website says charities are "prohibited" from participating in "partisan political activity," meaning anything that "involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to (my emphasis) any political party or candidate for public office."

So where does Suzuki get off thinking he can incite students to "put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there's a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail, because what they're doing is a criminal act"?

Oh, he's giving us a lot of excuse, such as he didn't mean it literally, and he doesn't necessarily speak for his foundation. And yet right there on his website is an arrogant piece that starts out by telling you and me what we believe:

Canadians believe that their political and business leaders are falling behind and are out of step with the general population.

Really? I don't recall being asked. Where did you get your stats from David? The students that you revved up after your campaign speech?

...Isn’t it time we made it clear to our elected officials and business leaders that we want them to get to work on solutions? Who will be the first to come forward and break the ice, to offer up some sound policies to get Canada moving and to help us be a model for other countries?
This of course, is the watered-down version - meant to smooth ruffled feathers after his public partisan outbursts.

As Lorrie says, it's pretty hard to separate the man from his foundation:

In June, in Toronto, Suzuki claimed the Harper Conservative government was harassing him by repeatedly auditing his foundation. According to the Globe and Mail, he said: "I am being hounded by the current government because I have a foundation that has my name and so they're trying to take away my charitable (status)," adding he now had to preface remarks with: "Everything I say is my personal opinion, has nothing to do with my foundation."

Really? Quick -- name another member of the Suzuki Foundation aside from Suzuki.

Visit the foundation's website, You'll see a picture of Suzuki at the top beside "David Suzuki Foundation." Both are to the left and slightly above the "DONATE Now!" icon.

Click on the first featured article, (Feb. 6): "Who will pay for our failure to act on global warming?" where Suzuki criticizes Harper and Stelmach.

How can anyone distinguish the views of David Suzuki from the David Suzuki Foundation?

If David Suzuki wants to keep the very lucrative charitable status for his foundation, he should carefully choose his words - or else just give it up and let free speech prevail.

He can't have it both ways.

* * * *
Update - Excellent discussion going on at Sandy's (COTM), where Rabbit has thrown in this comment:
I would like to know what Suzuki was doing speaking at an
NDP fund raiser in 2005.

Suzuki can be as partisan as he wants - just as soon as he relinquishes his foundation’s tax-protected charity status.


Saturday Update: SDA - Rex Murphy spanks David Suzuki.

From letters in the Sun: "Don't muzzle David":

Re: "This is non-partisan?" (Lorrie Goldstein, Feb. 14): Any prudent business leader knows you need people around you who have different points of view, individuals who don't always agree on the best course of action. The ensuing discussion always leads to better decisions. Politicians know this too, which is why a cornerstone of our parliamentary democracy is healthy, sometimes heated debate. This allows all points of view to be considered before committing to a particular direction. It is therefore ironic the Toronto Sun would seek to stifle debate by calling on individuals to complain about David Suzuki's legacy of being outspoken. Furthermore, it smacks of vindictiveness to threaten to take away charitable status just because Goldstein doesn't like what Suzuki is saying. Come on, folks, let's encourage different perspectives, not censure them.

Peter Robinson

CEO, The David Suzuki Foundation

(Lorrie wrote this isn't a free speech issue and Suzuki can say what he likes, but if he's going to head up a charitable foundation, the same rules about political non-partisanship that apply to all charities should apply to his. Are you suggesting your foundation deserves special status?)


maryT said...

Just phone revenue canada and tell them about this. You don't even have to give your name. Refer them to the articles.
If they got several hundred complaints in one day, from across Canada they would have to investigate. Also, write your MP,

Richard said...

Also, write your MP,

right, I'll get Garth right on it.

maryT said...

Richard, write a conservative MP in your area (there must be one) and cc to Garth.
Just curious, how is Garth doing in polls there, will he be re-elected.

Roy Eappen said...

Civarensis and I did have many of our readesr call Revenue Canada last year. Suzuki should lose his tax exempt status.

Roy Eappen said...

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Wow! Good stuff Dr. Roy.

Link can be clicked on here.

Richard said...

MaryT, good point - there's a good one in Burlington. didn't mean to sound so flippant.

Frankly, I don't know of any polls in Halton.
However, I have heard plenty of folks express their displeasure with him. And I don't think more than one or two actual locals are among his blog fan club.

OMMAG said...

Folks out in Suzuki's neighbourhood tend to think like he does.

I'm sure that's where he goes when he wants any opinions!

Keep up the pressure on him and we may see him self immolate.

Anonymous said...

Suzuki endorsed Marilyn Churley in the last election. (Source: CBC)

If that ain't politically partisan... and a violation of CBC journalistic standards, someone ask new CBC Editor in Chief what is?

Seriously, ask:

Who balances Suzuki at CBC?

This morning on Wild Rose Country in Calgary, CBC's "environmental" reporter was repeating all the anti-nuclear environmental claims of Canadian environmental groups regarding the oilsands.

In addition to Suzuki's hardore activism, does CBC also hire people to repeat other activist claims?

So much for journalistic standards there Johnny!