Muslim Association of Canada's
Charter Challenge of the CRA Audit

Let's begin with this scenario...

If the federal government wished to audit the terrorist financing risk posed by a Jewish charity, started with a list of international organizations associated with terrorism that consisted predominantly of Jewish organizations, developed its plan for the audit by writing a document that cited Mein Kampf as a data point to identify risks raised by Jewish organizations, and then proceeded with its audit analysis with a flawed understanding of Judaism and by trying to link members of the charity with the list of predominantly Jewish international organizations ..

Would the audit be regarded as a thorough exercise in protecting Canada from the risk of terrorist financing? Or would the exercise be regarded as anti-Semitic and deeply flawed? 

That hypothetical is obviously not one that could happen in modern Canada. Sadly, though, MAC raises a parallel question with respect to a Muslim charity.


In 2014-2015, Canada experienced a rise in Islamophobia, driven by individuals spreading misinformation about Canadian Muslim organizations like the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC). The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) conducted a biased and invasive audit of MAC, and concluded with recommendations to revoke its charitable status and to impose a $1.3 million penalty. It was described at the time by lawyers with extensive experience as unprecedented and a witch-hunt. As the audit progressed, it became clear to MAC that there was a deep undercurrent of Islamophobia within the CRA, and that this bias was affecting the way the audit was being conducted. To defend the rights of Canadian Muslims, MAC filed a charter challenge in response to the CRA’s actions.

Islamophobia in the audit

  • The audit was tainted by Islamophobia in the way MAC was selected for audit, how the CRA determined the risk of terrorism finance, how the audit team was onboarded, the audit itself, and finally in the preliminary findings themselves.
  • The Review and Analysis Division claims not to track religious affiliations of charities audited, it disproportionately targets Muslim charities. A study by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group found that between 2008 and 2015, 75% of the charities who had their charitable status revoked by RAD were Muslim charities.
  • The initial Risk Assessment heavily relied on very problematic sources. The CRA’s failure to even conduct the most basic due diligence on the sources being considered and relied on, is shameful and would never be contemplated with respect to any other faith or ethnic group, a fact highlighted by MAC’s lawyer in closing arguments.
  • The Risk Assessment included Islamophobic sources such as Lorenzo Vidino, Tom Quiggin, Point de bascule, and Brian Daly.
  • The Risk Assessment identified some of these sources as possibly problematic and anti-Muslim (but still relied upon them), whereas the Desk Review relied upon them without any qualification.
  • A CRA auditor admitted that she was given the Tom Quiggin report called “The Muslim Brotherhood in North America” to read when she was onboarded into the MAC audit team
  • After completing the audit, the CRA prepares an administrative fairness letter with language and framing clearly rooted in the Quiggin and Vidino narratives

Violation of charter rights

Muslim Association of Canada has made an application for an order directing the Canada Revenue Agency to terminate the present Audit, or complete the Audit in a manner that does not infringe on MAC’s rights:

  1. Freedom of religion 2(a)

  2. Freedom of Expression 2(b)

  3. Freedom of Association 2(d)

  4. Equality 15

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