Canada Requires Peace Groups to Support War If They Want Charitable Status

By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, December 27, 2023

In the United States, if you donate money to World BEYOND War, you can deduct that donation from the amount of money on which you pay taxes to fund the U.S. government, which uses over half of the income taxes it brings in to fund the U.S. military. World BEYOND War will then take that funding and use it to educate people about the need to abolish militaries. So it’s a double whammy for peace.

In Canada, we in the United States like to think, peace must be more acceptable. Canada’s military spending is 3% of that in the U.S. in absolute dollars, and 27% per capita. Yet in Canada, if you make a donation to World BEYOND War, the money will go to the same good cause, but the money will not be tax deductible. You’ll have to pay into the Canadian government just as before. More of your taxes will go to non-military projects simply because that’s what the Canadian government does with its money. But one of the things it does is fund a bureaucracy that has made it impossible to get charitable status in Canada for any nonprofit organization seeking to change the way people think for the better, or for the worse, or in some neutral manner. To be a charity, you have to be engaged in the work of making sure nothing changes in the way people think. Like a good corporate media outlet promoting the views of it’s owners 24/7, you must avoid having any point of view whatsoever (other than the point of view of those in power, which doesn’t count).

World BEYOND War applied for charitable status with the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), but we were told (it took about two years to tell us) that we were unacceptably biased against war. If we did educational events promoting both peace and war, that might demonstrate our lack of bias. Favoring only peace is a problem. The CRA told us that due to our biased viewpoint, our work did not meet the statutory requirements of eligibility to become a registered charitable organization in Canada. In determining eligibility for charitable registration under the Income Tax Act and Policy CG-030, the CRA’s Charities Directorate has declared “peace” to be a biased viewpoint which violates this section of the policy:

“To be charitable, the education advanced by these purposes must meet both the content and process criteria.

“The content criteria (education) include:

(i) subject matter is useful and has educational value

(ii) subject matter is not focused on promoting a point of view

The second link above takes you to text that, at first glance, seems to provide a waiver particularly for peace. For a moment, it appears that peace is so indisputably good that a charitable organization can educate in support of it without being accused of “having a point of view.” Here’s what it says:

“Simply promoting a particular point of view, or attempting to persuade, does not advance education under charity law. Concerns arise when the subject matter contains information and opinion that is mostly biased or one-sided. This often occurs when a subject is controversial. The subject matter should reflect a genuine attempt to provide knowledge or develop abilities.

“Although an organization may educate from a particular perspective, in that it may have a point of view on a subject, there needs to be a clear attempt to encourage awareness of different views. This allows recipients to make up their own minds. For example, an educator may share an opinion or view while teaching a course, but the course material should be reasonably objective. It should reflect a genuine attempt to further students’ knowledge or abilities.

“However, a purpose to educate about a subject that presents a point of view which is generally accepted to be for the public benefit can advance education. For example, to educate that peace is preferable to war, or that smoking is harmful, is clearly for the public benefit, and can therefore be charitable. The benefit of peace is not controversial. But if the public benefit of the subject is not obvious, or it is not possible to determine it is for the public benefit, the purpose does not advance education, and is therefore not charitable. Footnote 33

Fantastic! But the devil is in the details. Clicking the link to Footnote 33 brings you to this explanation:

See Southwood v A.G., [2000] WL 877698 (CA), at para 6:

“The relevant question is whether the ‘advancement of the education of the public in the subject of militarism and disarmament and related fields’ promotes public benefit. If it does, the trust can be recognised as charitable. If it does not – or if, after investigation of the evidence, the court is satisfied that there is no means of determining whether it does or not – the trust cannot be recognised as charitable.” And at para 29: “I would have no difficulty in accepting the proposition that it promotes public benefit for the public to be educated in the differing means of securing a state of peace and avoiding a state of war. The difficulty comes at the next stage. There are differing views as to how best to secure peace and avoid war. To give two obvious examples: on the one hand it can be contended that war is best avoided by ‘bargaining through strength’; on the other hand it can be argued, with equal passion, that peace is best secured by disarmament, if necessary by unilateral disarmament. The court is in no position to determine that promotion of the one view rather than the other is for the public benefit. Not only does the court have no material on which to make that choice; to attempt to do so would usurp the role of government. So the court cannot recognize as charitable a trust to educate the public to an acceptance that peace is best secured by ‘demilitarisation’ …”

So, if you are willing to inform the public of what the public is already told by every newspaper and corporate textbook, namely that the path to peace may very well be through preparing for or waging more wars, then you could — in theory — also tell them that another possibility is that the path to peace lies through diplomacy, aid, international law, unarmed civilian defense, disarmament, and nonviolent conflict resolution.

Elsewhere, these guidelines support any point of view well established by evidence. The facts are overwhelmingly clear that peace through peaceful means is more successful than peace through militarism. But did the CRA study World BEYOND War’s materials with a willingness to learn the facts? Or did it follow fixed doctrine which holds that the choice between peace-through-peace and peace-through-war is something of a fashion preference not determinable by the study of human experience? Elsewhere the same guidelines say that “what is charitable should evolve incrementally to reflect changing times, by comparing new purposes to those the courts previously found to be charitable.” One interesting question, then, would seem to be whether peace will become charitable prior to war destroying the world.

Another interesting question is when peace stopped being charitable. Was it only in 2020 or a long time before that? There are charitable peace organizations in Canada presumably grandfathered in from an earlier era in which promoting peace-through-militarism was not required, and it is clearly not required of them now.

Yet another intriguing mystery is how charitable organizations in Canada that promote only war, and not peace, manage to be point-of-viewless. For example, the CRA gives charitable status to the HESEG Foundation, which was created to provide scholarships and other support to non-Israelis who join the Israeli military, thereby milking Canadian tax-payer dollars to support wars like the current one on Gaza. Charities across Canada send a quarter billion dollars a year to projects in Israel, many of which support the Israeli military, racist organizations, and West Bank settlements. Are those all points of view without any point of view? Is there nothing controversial here? Then, who are all those people protesting in Canadian streets and giving pollsters on Gaza the opposite answer to the Canadian governments viewpointless position? Must the majority of Canadians be imagined not to exist so that Canada’s charitable guidelines can be taken seriously?

Is “fornicating for virginity” not just a rally-poster critique of warmongering for peace, but actually something one might have to advocate to obtain charitable status in Canada?

3 Responses

  1. That takes your organization, Canada and any donor or reader into 1984 territory, for clearly in Canada, war is peace.

  2. Ridiculous

    MUST BE CHANGED- the DEFINITION REQUIRED IN CANADA FOR CHARITY
    CANADA Is a PEACEFUL COUNTRY _ BASED ON PEACE KEEPING

    WE WILL NOT SUPPORT A GOVERNMENT THAT SUPPORTS WAR_ WATCH NEXT ELECTION

  3. Same with animal rights organizations. If you advocate for animals you are taking a position and therefore not charitable.

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