Multicultural outreach strategy played fast and loose with charities

(Victoria, 23 August 2013) – By trying to arm-twist charities to tailor their events to meet the political needs of the B.C. government’s ill-fated multicultural outreach strategy, the government may have easily put the charitable status of those same organizations at risk, according to IntegrityBC.

According to an email from Brian Bonney, organizers behind the multicultural outreach strategy may have pressured the 2012 World Partnership Walk not to invite the BC NDP to the walk. The annual walk is held each year in support of the Aga Khan Foundation and is Canada’s largest fundraising event against global poverty.

In a May 29, 2012 email to Michael HG Lee, Fiera Lo, Barinder Bhullar, Mike McDonald, and Pamela Martin, Bonney alleged: “Not sure if you knew, but Sepideh (Sarrafpour) worked hard to ensure they did not invite the NDP this year. No NDP were in attendance.”

Bonney’s email was written in what can only be described as a B.C. Liberal party mutual “high-five” over a 24 Hours front page picture with Premier Christy Clark and then Minister John Yap at the walk. Premier Clark presented a cheque for $25,000 from the B.C. Ministry of Health to walk organizers.

Three months after the Partnership Walk, outreach organizers claimed to have secured an alleged agreement from the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver’s telethon/radiothon to “help us out as much as they could. The Event Director indicated he can adjust to what we want to do to maximize MJY (Minister John Yap) exposure.”

Although Yap was ultimately unable to attend, by allegedly agreeing to adjust to what government organizers wanted – so as to maximize their minister’s exposure – the centre’s organizers may have arguably overstepped the CRA’s prohibition against a charity providing “direct – or indirect – support to a candidate or political party.”

B.C. Liberal party operatives tainted the very nature of both these events,” said IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis. “They turned a walk against global poverty into a photo-op for the premier and a telethon in support of the Chinese Cultural Centre into something more akin to a campaign appearance.”

According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), a registered charity may not take part in a partisan political activity. The CRA defines a partisan political activity as “any activity that provides direct or indirect support or opposition to any political party at any time, whether during an election period or not, or to a candidate for public office.”

Such support can be as simple as providing a link to one party’s website, but not to the websites of other parties.

IntegrityBC has reviewed over 10,000 pages of documents released in June by the Dyble investigation into the multicultural outreach strategy.

 

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For more information:

Dermod Travis, Executive Director

IntegrityBC

250-590-5126

info@integritybc.ca

 

B.C. premier presents 2012 world partnership walk with $25,000