(Ottawa – March 27, 2023)

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) renews its call urging the federal government to suspend the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Review and Analysis Division (RAD) in light of the report by the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s report, “Charity Begins with Fairness: More to Explore.

The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s report follows from direction given after the 2021 National Summit on Islamophobia, where community organizations raised concerns about systemic biases in the CRA’s audits of Muslim-led Canadian charitable organizations. These concerns were outlined in a 2020 report by the NCCM in partnership with the University of Toronto’s Institute of Islamic Studies, “Under Layered Suspicion: A Review of CRA Audits of Muslim-led Charities.

“The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s report paints a clear picture of a system where transparency and accountability are extremely difficult to ascertain,” said Dr. Nadia Hasan, NCCM’s Chief Operating Officer. “The Ombudsperson’s office made it quite clear that their level of access to information about CRA audit findings is the same as that of any member of the public. For an oversight body to be unable to effectively oversee the agency it is mandated to oversee should be alarming for anyone interested in upholding the integrity of our democracy. While we appreciate the Ombudsperson’s recommendations to enhance unconscious bias training for CRA employees, we want to be clear that this would not address the root of the problem, which is a broken system with no mechanism for accountability.”

The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) recently announced that they will also be undertaking a review of the CRA’s audit practices related to the charitable sector. However, it remains unclear if they will face the same barriers to access that the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s Office did. We have communicated this to the federal government – as we did more than two years ago when we initially advised that the CRA would not hand over national security files to the Ombudsperson.

Thus, we reject the notion of waiting for yet another review to tell us what we already know to be true.

It is unfair to continue to subject Muslim-led charities to unfair audit practices in the interim. NCCM renews its calls for the suspension of the Review and Analysis Division of the CRA pending a fulsome review.