We received a great response to our interviews with Tzeporah Berman and Vivian Krause on the charitable status of environmental groups. Click through for a selection of your letters.
If you haven't had a chance to hear the segment, you can check it out here
The following letters have been edited for length.
From Hugh Maynard in Ormstown, QC:
Setting aside the environmental aspect of the charity debate, the point that should be addressed is the inequity of the tax deductible restrictions that the CRA imposes on charities and non-profits.
Corporations can fund their lobbying activities (both lobbyists and industry associations) and deduct the expenses from income which means that de facto their advocacy is receiving a financial benefit from the taxpayer. That gives an unfair advantage to corporations versus other civil organizations and certainly individuals. To rectify the balance, all non-profits ought to be able to raise funds through tax deductible measures.
From Ladell in Toronto, ON:
Enough. Let us level the playing the field and change the law so that advocacy activities by corporations are not tax deductible either.
Perhaps when everyone is paying out of their own pockets without tax benefits they will speak to the issue -- the preservation of our envirnoment -- rather than advocating for their own self interest.
From Deborah Cherry:
As you may (or may not) know, ALL for-profit corporations [in the USA] enjoy the "rights of natural persons", pursuant to an obscure judicial decision which dates back to the early 19th century in the US.
This has been interpreted to mean that for-profit corporations are entitled to the right of "free speech" just as all of us flesh and blood persons are. This is, in my opinion, the single most egregious issue in the discussion of whether charities should be allowed to play an advocacy role, especially on behalf of the public interest. The proverbial playing field is NOT level and never will be, until private corporations are deprived of the misplaced right of free speech by which they spend billions on lobbyists to advocate for their private interests and influence the public political process to the detriment of the public interest.
In the interest of levelling the playing field, maybe we need to grant charitable and environmental non-profit public-interest organisations the same rights to free speech as those enjoyed by private for-profit corporations, to say nothing of all of us real natural persons.
From Greg Dowman in Lethbridge, AB:
Consider the other side of the coin - how much money does big oil set aside to fund their own interests in slick advertisements showing us how good things are with oil?
I also think about Joe Oliver's line about foreign radicals funding enviro groups, aiming to stop Canada's prosperity with 'oil' sand development. The language used was crass and tactless and, in my view, symptomatic of a profound ignorance. Through taxes, I fund that sort of output from the Minister in question.