FREE WEBINAR: What can Australian charities learn from Canadian audits of charities involved in advocacy?

What can Australian charities learn from Canadian audits of charities involved in advocacy?


In its 2012 budget, Canada’s Conservative (Harper) government set aside a special allocation of $13.4 million dollars to audit “political activities” of charities. Over the next few years, the charity regulator, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), undertook audits of more than 50 charities generally and specifically for the purpose of investigating whether these organizations had exceeded their allowable limits of political activities. These charities included Amnesty International Canada, a left-leaning think tank, a writers’ group that defends freedom of expression, as well as seven of Canada’s most prominent environmental charities.

Many observers accused government of using the audits to intimidate and silence opposing political views. Some charities report that their costs in legal and accounting fees incurred in the audits were in excess of CA$200,000. In addition, there may also have been a variety of costs to the regulator, the government as a whole and the not-for-profit sector that are have not been assessed or widely discussed.

In hindsight, what were the considerations and overall costs – of all kinds — of the audits? What did charities, the sector and government learn from this audit process, and what did they do right and what would they do differently?

This live webinar with key Canadian players will reflect on their experiences and Australian commentators will give their responses.

There is no cost to attend this conference.

Participants include:

International Contributors

• Susan Phillips Visiting Fellow, ACPNS; Professor Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership School of Public Policy and Administration Carleton University
• Nick Robinson, Legal Advisor – International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law
• Peter Robinson, former CEO, David Suzuki Foundation
• Leilani Farha, Executive Director, Canada Without Poverty
• Bob Wyatt, LL.D. (Hon.) Executive Director, The Muttart Foundation & Vice-President, The Pemsel Case Foundation
• Carl Juneau, former Director, Charities Directorate, Canada Revenue Agency
• Susan Manwaring, Partner, Miller Thomson LLP
• Sean Speer, Assistant Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto; Former Economic Adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper
• Tim Harper, Freelance Writer; Former Bureau Chief, Parliamentary Press Gallery (Canada)


Australian Responders

• Jennifer Batrouney QC, Chair, Not-for-Profit Legal Practice and Charities Committee, Law Council of Australia
• Murray Baird, Former Assistant Commissioner, General Counsel, Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC)
• Krystian Seibert, Industy Fellow at the Cenbtre for Social Impact, Swinburne
• David Crosbie, CEO, Community Council for Australia


Webinar Facilitators

• Susan Phillips (ACPNS Visiting Prof.) Professor, Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Carleton University, Canada
• Myles McGregor-Lowndes, Emeritus Professor, ACPNS, QUT


Pre-reading for Australian participants

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