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Letter to the Editor: Globe and Mail

Re: “Tory rhetoric creates chilly climate for free speech” (May 15, 2012) and “Wildly uncharitable allegations” (May 7, 2012)

For the second time in a week, your newspaper has misrepresented the intent of my Senate Inquiry into the interference of foreign foundations in Canada’s domestic affairs and their abuse of Canada’s existing Revenue Canada charitable status.

Allow me to correct an egregious distortion – that of quashing a legitimate debate, freedom of speech.  I would suggest to you that this Inquiry has been very successful in starting and promoting a national debate on this issue.

If you had read my February 28th speech as well the speeches of my colleagues, you would have heard, over and over, a call for three things: transparency, disclosure and enforcement. In terms of transparency, why shouldn’t a donation be tagged from the donor all the way to the final recipient? Why shouldn’t Canadians know who is supporting what and for how much.

We expect complete transparency from our politicians; why not expect the same from our charities?  And the vast majority of Canadians agree: in a recent Angus Reid poll, 80% support our position of greater transparency.

Let me put it as simply as I possibly can. There are millions of dollars crossing borders. We know of at least $300 million dollars that have come to Canadian charities from foreign foundations. Not a single entity has denied that. Some even brag about it.

There are charities that act as nothing more than fiscal clearinghouses by accepting donations and forwarding the money to organizations that do not qualify for charitable status and therefore cannot issue income tax receipts.

As far as undermining Canada’s national economic interest, how else do you explain the seal hunt? How do you explain the BC Salmon industry which has been devastated while coincidently the very same Alaska Salmon industry is soaring?

None of this is rhetoric. None is exaggeration. My Inquiry simply brings light to some inconvenient truths.

Senator Nicole C. Eaton