Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How the Canada Revenue Agency Went After An Anti-Harper Group

During the dark days of Stephen Harper's monstrous rule, the activist group Shit Harper Did (SHD) was one of the liveliest members of The Great Canadian Resistance.

It mocked Harper, it produced all kinds of videos, some funny some serious. And it joined with others in the successful campaign to get more young Canadians to vote. 

So what happened to it not long before the last election couldn't be more disturbing.

When as one of its co-founders has just revealed, it was targeted by the Canada Revenue Agency.  

In an email to supporters, Shit Harper Did cofounder and Vancouver comedian Sean Devlin revealed that the group's nonprofit society was stung by a "false tax assessment" a few months before voting day in 2015. 

 "To put it simply: they said we owed them thousands of dollars that we in fact did not," Devlin wrote. "In response we had to go through an appeals process that absorbed a lot of our energy and time prior to, during and even after the election."

That went after the group like bats out of hell.

While this was "extremely stressful", Devlin noted that the group eventually won the appeal. But then, the Canada Revenue Agency "started cracking down on the personal taxes of various members of our team". 

 "On top of all that—in the aftermath of the election we had to participate in a drawn out mandatory auditing and reporting process," Devlin added. "We were subject to the same rules and regulations as political entities 10 times our size. We had to hire teams of professional accountants to help us and even they admitted that these 3rd party election laws were ridiculous and clearly designed to discourage grassroots efforts."

Or in a manner that seems to me to be excessive, and can only raise that most disturbing question. Again: 

Did Stephen Harper and his Con regime use the CRA to go after its left-wing opponents?

Even if they were harmless birdwatchers...

Whose only "crime" was complaining about a government-approved pesticide that was killing honey bees.

Did they command the CRA to go after environmental groups for daring to challenge Harper's oily obsession?

Or go after the SHD group for running videos like this one just before the fatal May 2011 election...

The election that gave Stephen Harper his monstrous majority.

Or for running this video three years ago to mock the Con's Porky Action plan....

Which at the time really hit the spot, and helped keep me laughing during the darkest days of the Con regime.

I confess don't know what to believe. 

Except that if the CRA was used as a political weapon by the Cons we really need to know.

For no democracy can long survive with that kind of shadow hanging over it.

Where did Stephen Harper take this country during his monstrous years in power?

How low did he go?

Why did he leave like a thief in the night?

And how long must we wait for the truth to be revealed?

Please click here to recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers.


  1. Anonymous9:27 AM

    When it comes to the morally depleted CRA, very little has changed since the election expect for the fact that the morally depleted, dishonest, CRA was given more taxpayer dollars to attack the middle class whilst the real tax fraudsters are protected off shore or with sweetheart deals with the government.

    The charities sector had been heartened by the Liberals' platform, which promised to "allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment." But the optimism was soon dampened. On Jan. 20, National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said 24 political-activity audits currently underway will continue their course, and the five groups under notice of deregistration will not be spared, though they can appeal. Same ole, same ole....... FS

    1. hi, the Liberals gave the CRA more money and new orders to go after the offshore tax dodgers. And it's not possible for the government to cancel the audits already underway lest they be accused of favouritism. But what they can do is wait to see the results, and if as expected they all come up empty, fire those responsible, and hopefully begin a public inquiry...

  2. The CRA who were just following orders need to be purged.

    1. hi I told FS, it's very hard to prove political interference, without being accused of political interference yourself. But the Liberals should examine the results closely, and if they do turn out to be just harassment, the guilty can then be made to suffer the consequences....

  3. Anonymous10:13 AM

    Have I missed this in the main stream press, Simon? This is a major issue. I hope someone works on this story and we find out. The CRA could very well be crooked, one of the premier characteristics of a corrupt banana republic. This is big.

    1. hi I don't think you did. For some reason the MSM seems to have given this story a pass, even though it seems to me to be the worst case of harassment I have ever seen, and it deserves to be covered. As I said in my post, there is a cloud hanging over the CRA, and I believe that only a public inquiry can clear it away...

  4. The problem is that Trudeau and the Liberals will never call out the CRA on the issue for two reasons. The first reason being that as a major political party they want to reserve the option of using the CRA as a political force the same way the Cons did. The other reason is for the same reason that Gore didn't call the system out when the presidential election was stolen from him - because the political class goes to great lengths to preserve the status and legitimacy of the institutions. If the Government instigated a major investigation into this issue and found that the CRA had acted as a political tool of the Con Government, this would (in the eyes of the political class) potentially cause irreparable damage to the institution itself and open the floodgates to hundreds of lawsuits against the CRA and the federal government itself. There would be so many lawsuits that it would take a generation to clear them all up and in the meantime people would feel vindicated in doing whatever they could to cheat on their taxes with the full knowledge that the CRA has been a criminal, rogue organization. Keep in mind, I'm not saying that is a legitimate excuse for a failure to enact due diligence on the part of the current government, but they will NEVER do it for these two very basic reasons.

    1. hear hear, we cant make cognative dissonance tidal waves or every institution will be washed away.

    2. Hi Kirby...well you may be right. As I said above these cases are very hard to prove, and the Liberals can't interfere in the audits already underway, lest they be accused of political interference.
      But as you say there probably is a systemic bias aimed at protecting the institution itself, for all the reasons you mention. But at a certain point the damage from doing something or doing nothing becomes equal in nature. And what the Liberals can certainly do is shake up the upper echelons on the CRA, and install a new generation of more reform minded leaders. For those who under the Con regime are fairly or unfairly tainted by association...

    3. on the flip side the Pananma Papers and other tax evaders get a pass