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The lead up to this week’s federal budget featured news that the Canada Revenue Agency, the federal government’s tax collector, has undertaken an unprecedented series of audits focussed on the activities of environmental organizations in Canada. The audits, which are intended to ensure compliance with the rules regarding the activities of charitable organizations, have been specifically aimed at organizations who have been publicly critical of the Harper government’s oil sands expansion focussed economic strategy. Indeed, federal finance minister Jim Flaherty has been quoted as stating ““if I were an environmental charity using charitable money, tax-receipted money for political purposes I would be cautious." The minister’s statements follow-through on an $8 million allocation to the CRA in the 2012 budget for the specific purpose of reviewing the “political” activities of charitable organizations in Canada.

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