Is a registered charity pressuring a First Nations Band a political activity?

March 13, 2014 | By: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Mark Blumberg
Topics: News, What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA, Canadian Charity Law

Is an aboriginal band considered a level of government by CRA?   Here is the response I recently received from CRA:

"We had some discussion regarding this question you sent a little while ago, and I have a response for you.

If a charity is pressuring a First Nations Band, the determination of whether the activity is political will depend on whether the Band falls under CPS-022's meaning of a "level of government".  While the policy does not define "level of government" specifically, the definition of "elected representative" includes more than members of municipal, provincial, or federal governments (for example, it also would include members of a legislative body or a school board).  Therefore, our general view is that use of the term "level of government" in CPS-022 should be read broadly, and would include First Nations Bands that have the power to make decisions typically reserved for a government.

We would add that, technically speaking, whether a Band is registered with the CRA as qualified donee that is a municipal or public body performing a function of government is not a deciding factor. However, if a Band is registered as performing a function of government, this is a strong indicator that it is a "level of government" for the purposes of CPS-022."

Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?


Charity Lawyer Mark Blumberg

Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.
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