Wednesday 17 January 2018

Toronto Right to Life: An "Educational" Charity

I had never heard of Toronto Right to Life before this "abortion clause" (I hate the phrase, but that's what it's being called) kerfuffle.

It is a registered charity.

It's been in the news as one of the three anti-choice groups (with Guelph Right to Life and Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, aka Fetal Gore Gang) that successfully pressured the government to release Canada Summer Jobs funding they were granted before the eligibility rules were changed.

Then it was in the news again for taking the government to court to argue that its Charter rights to freedom of conscience are violated by the new rules.

And this week, its' president, Blaise Alleyne, was on CBC's The Current to talk about those "rights."

I thought it odd that I hadn't heard of this gang, so I went looking.

Toronto Right to Life styles itself as an educational organization. (The website is under construction.)

Under What we do, there's this.
Our Mission
Equipping Toronto and the GTA to defend human rights for all human beings through education and applied experience.

"Applied experience"? Wot's that then? Hanging around street corners with big gory signs?

On the return filed with Canada Revenue Agency, it reports its' programs and activities thus:
Ongoing programs: 

Research and study for educational materials concerning life issues including abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, fetal and/or embryonic experimentation, stem cell research; speaking presentations and presentation content development; seminars and conferences; teaching and outreach; free support resources for people facing a crisis situation pertaining to pregnancy or end of life care.

New programs: 

Student grant program: assistance provided specifically for eligible high school students and post-secondary students in need of aid in accessing educational materials and resources covering the topic of abortion and euthanasia for student-led educational projects and initiatives.
It offers speakers to provide "pro-life education." And it has endorsements from teachers and students at "Toronto Catholic and Public School Board [sic]."

See that "Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute"? It's in the public Toronto District School Board (TDSB). On Twitter, I pointed this out to TDSB, who disavowed all knowledge, said they did NOT deal with this group, and acted swiftly to get that bogus endorsement off their page.

And, indeed, they did remove it.

While I hadn't heard of the group, the president's name rang a bell. I looked further. Oh, there he is, as Toronto Outreach Director at CCBR (Fetal Gore Gang).

Hmm. Interesting. The Fetal Gore Gang is NOT a charity. Here's a 4-page PDF on its site explaining why.

Another thing struck me. In the brouhahas over CCBR's attempts to impose gory transit advertising, this is the ad.

On TRL's website, there's this.

More hmm. On its resources page, TRL lists "Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform: Pro-Life Classrom" and a presentation by Stephanie Gray, co-founder of CCBR.

Back to the CRA's financials.

TRL was registered in 1973. It claims no government funding before 2017, when it claimed $10,800 from the summer jobs program. (CRA website lists only 5 most recent years.)

Its' revenues in general took a leap that year. From $117K in 2016 to $260K in 2017. Similarly, it went from 2 full-time and 2 part-time employees in 2016, to 3 full-time and 6 part-time employees in 2017.

Might Toronto Right to Life have morphed into the "charitable/educational" arm of the Fetal Gore Gang?

Stay tuned. More research is coming.

Saturday 13 January 2018

Strip All Anti-Choice Orgs of Charitable Status

Last week, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) released more results of an ongoing investigation by volunteers into the public filings by anti-choice groups.

These filings are required by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) in order for organizations to maintain their very valuable charitable status.

ARCC reported details on the (deliberate?) errors and omissions by many such charities especially in reporting revenues from the now controversial Canada Summer Jobs program. These errors have been reported to CRA.

I'll have more to say about that in another post.


Here is ARCC's Joyce Arthur on the matter:
“No anti-abortion agency should be registered as a charity,”said Joyce Arthur, ExecutiveDirector of ARCC." The mission and activities of anti-choice groups are inherently political and biased, which should disqualify them from charitable status. They work to stigmatize abortion, constrain individuals’ access to it, and ultimately to recriminalize it. They seek to subvert the Charter rights of Canadians through deception and misinformation.”

Here is ARCC's position paper on charitable status.

I completely agree, but I've been nosing around the CRA's website section on "Charities and giving", specifically its "public benefit test" part.

First, there are four allowable "charitable purposes." (Click to embiggen.)

Note that "advancement of religion" is okey-dokey all on its own. (Except the barbaric Moooslim religion, of course.)

There are disqualifying factors under the public benefit test.

"Purposes that are contrary to public policy" is a disqualifying factor. Like advocating and working to ban what is now considered -- by law and public policy -- the right to abortion?

Or, as the Prime Minister said, such activity is “is not in line with where we are as a government and, quite frankly, where we are at as a society.”

More on the benefit test.

What is "socially useful" about lying to, shaming and manipulating people out of exercising a human right?

Several more interesting things about public benefit.

Harmful? Boy howdy. These gangs attempt to scare people out of abortion by lying about long-discredited links between abortion and breast cancer, substance abuse, depression, suicide, infertility, etc.

And the relationship between agency and client? When public documents speak about prospective targets as "abortion-minded" or not, when other (no longer public) documents speak about tactics to humiliate and frighten, when sneaky moves like burning baby powder-scented candles in fake clinics' waiting rooms. . . . it's not exactly a respectful and helping relationship.

Next bit on "concerns raised" gives the example of a health clinic using controversial alternative therapies.

Well, how about pretending to be a health clinic? And giving out misinformation and lies under that aegis?

There's more about "tangible" benefits (like some used baby clothes?), conflict between public benefit and "some negative effect" (state-sanctioned lying might be considered a negative), but I'll cut to the chase.

Many of these regulations are based in precedent. If something has been deemed charitable in the past, it's likely to pass now.

Except CRA does recognize that such public benefits might change over time.

In the past, counselling, even shaming "unwed mothers" might have been considered a public benefit, but now? Where is the public benefit in dissuading people from accessing a perfectly legal, safe medical procedure?

It's time to strip all anti-choice agencies of charitable status. As the PM says, they're free to believe anything they want, but when it comes to actively working against settled Canadian law and policy, they should be on their own.