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Are environmentalists being unfairly targeted in charity crackdown?

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si_forestethics_istock_220.jpg ForestEthics, an environmental group behind several prominent anti-oilsands campaigns, is giving up its charitable status designation in response to a recent crackdown on politically motivated spending by the federal government.

According to organizers, the group will now be split into two separate bodies.

One half, ForestEthics Solutions, will remain a charity while the other half, ForestEthics Advocacy, will focus on combating what it calls Conservative attacks on the environment. The latter will no longer be offering tax receipts to donors.

This action was taken after Ottawa pledged to grant the Canada Revenue agency more power to enforce organizational spending limits on political activities, such as protests, which are supposed to be capped at 10 per cent of a charitable organization's budget.

Groups that bend the rules risk the suspension of their charitable status.

While the regulation will apply to all Canadian charities, senators have been particularly critical of groups that speak out against big energy projects and some environmentalists say they're being unfairly targeted.

"It is a systematic campaign by the government to stop dissenting opinion and prevent any effective opposition to environmental depredation," said civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby, who will help lead ForestEthics Advocacy.

In January, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said in an open letter that environmental and other "radical groups" are trying to undermine Canada's economy by threatening "to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda."

Senator Doug Finley in a speech last month said that "it should never be considered a charitable act to attack Canada's oilsands."

What's your take on the issue? Are environmental groups being unfairly targeted by the government in this crackdown, or is Ottawa protecting the best interests of Canadians?

Give us your thoughts in the comment section below.

Tags: POV

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