Has Martin Singh compromised a Gurdwara’s charitable status? #ndpldr

I posted this morning about Martin Singh’s interesting release about hosting polls for the NDP leadership race.

I noted that it didn’t seem like it violated any of the NDP or Canada Election rules, but one further recollection I realized that the rules being broken weren’t by Martin Singh’s campaign but by the Malton Gurdwara.

A Gurdwara is a Sikh Temple and the Malton Gurdwara is operated by a federally registered charity: Sri Guru Singh Sabha Canada. From its T3010 return we learn that its charitable mandate is 70% “Places of worship, congregations, parishes, dioceses, etc.” and 30% “Food or clothing banks, soup kitchens, hostels”. In its 2011 return it claimed to perform no “political activities during the fiscal period.”

From the Canada Revenue guidelines around charities and political/partisan activities:

149.1

(6.1) Charitable purposes

For the purposes of the definition “charitable foundation” in subsection (1), where a corporation or trust devotes substantially all of its resources to charitable purposes and

(a) it devotes part of its resources to political activities,
(b) those political activities are ancillary and incidental to its charitable purposes, and
(c) those political activities do not include the direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party or candidate for public office,

the corporation or trust shall be considered to be constituted and operated for charitable purposes to the extent of that part of its resources so devoted.

(6.2) Charitable activities

For the purposes of the definition “charitable organization” in subsection (1), where an organization devotes substantially all of its resources to charitable activities carried on by it and

(a) it devotes part of its resources to political activities,
(b) those political activities are ancillary and incidental to its charitable activities, and
(c) those political activities do not include the direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party or candidate for public office
,

the organization shall be considered to be devoting that part of its resources to charitable activities carried on by it. [emphasis original]

Furthermore from that advisory:

A registered charity is prohibited from directly or indirectly supporting or opposing a candidate for public office as well as a political party. In deciding whether a charity is engaged in prohibited activity, we generally consider whether the activity can reasonably be construed as intending to influence the outcome of the election. [emphasis mine]

The rules get a bit murkier as “hosted a leadership poll for a single candidate” is not specifically outlined in the examples cited by the CRA but this feels like its crossing a line into a church endorsing a specific leadership candidate.

To contact the Canada Revenue Service call 1-800-267-2384. Let me know if you take this story farther.

3 thoughts on “Has Martin Singh compromised a Gurdwara’s charitable status? #ndpldr”

  1. I’m not sure if simply hosting an event is the same as endorsing a candidate.
    The NDP, Liberals and Conservatives all have nomination meetings and other meetings at churches, synagogs and temples on a regular basis. Sometimes they pay to rent the space, sometimes they’re just allowed to use it.

    1. I think if the Singh campaigned paid a rental rate equivalent to what other candidates would be charged for the room then the Gurdwara may be in the clear. Donating that space would be something I’d be really wary of with the charities I work with. Better safe and non-partisan than to risk losing the status.

  2. How can this be non-partisan? Martin Singh who is a Sikh is “sponsoring” polls in a Sikh Temple and is asking Ontario Members to Vote Here: Martin Singh office AND Malton Gurdwara. The juxtaposition is just too obvious.

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