The Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), has written to the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, concerning the recent consultation by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on political activities involving charities. In his letter, Bishop Crosby "welcomes the decision by the Government of Canada to engage with charities in order to clarify the rules governing political activities." Moreover, he expresses regret that the consultation period ended on December 14, 2016, even though it had been extended by several weeks. "We would note that the amount of time provided was insufficient for our own needs. We would suspect this is also the case for a number of other religious charities, at least those with which we are acquainted and with which we collaborate - not only other Catholic organizations and Christian groups, but also involving other religious traditions."
In his five-page letter which was sent to the Minister on 22 December 2016, the CCCB President provides five main reflections "to address the current and often profound misunderstandings about religion in present-day Canadian society, and which in turn seem to be reflected in various efforts to impose categories and definitions that many religious charities find inadequate and even unfair." Bishop Crosby concludes his letter in the hope of similar consultations in the future involving charities, so that the recent consultation "will truly be a significant first step in helping you and the CRA in meeting the expectations set out in the mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the beginning of his government: namely, to 'ensure that the CRA is fairer, more helpful, and easier to use' and 'a client-focused agency', as well as to 'modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors,' including 'clarifying the rules governing political activity, with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy'."