National security review of Canada Revenue Agency welcome, but should not delay immediate action

OTTAWA, March 15, 2023 – The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) is welcoming the announcement from the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) that it will be reviewing the activities of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Review and Analysis Division (RAD). This was a key recommendation in ICLMG’s report on the CRA’s prejudiced audits of Muslim charities, released in June 2021.

However, this review should not be used by the government as an excuse to further delay action to address the documented and ongoing systemic discrimination faced within the Muslim community. This includes the immediate suspension of RAD audits.

“For too long, the CRA and RAD have operated without adequate review or oversight. We know that in national security, secrecy allows problems to fester and is used to obscure the harmful impacts of counter-terrorism practices. So we are glad to see the NSIRA taking on this important task,” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the ICLMG.  “At the same time, for two years the government has had documented evidence of grave problems with the work carried out by RAD, and has failed to take concrete action. This review cannot be an excuse to delay further. RAD’s work must be halted.”

In July 2021, following the publication of ICLMG’s report, among others, and the issue being a central concern at the federal National Summit on Islamophobia, Minister of Revenue Diane Lebouthillier conferred a study of the issue to Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson.

However, The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson, François Boileau, revealed at a hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights in November 2022 that his office was barred from accessing key information and documents needed to carry out its review for national security reasons, among other issues.

The NSIRA has the necessary security clearance to be able to access these documents; this is why the ICLMG had recommended in its report that the NSIRA was the appropriate body to investigate this issue.

The ICLMG also recognizes the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s ongoing and dedicated work on this issue, and believes that the Ombudsperson’s report will provide important, complementary findings and recommendations to the eventual NSIRA report.

The ICLMG also continues to call on the federal government to act on the other recommendations in its report, namely:

  • That the Minister of National Revenue declare an immediate moratorium on the targeted audit of Muslim charities by RAD until the review has concluded. This does not preclude the audits of Muslim charities selected at random by the CRA outside of RAD.
  • That the Ministry of Finance revisit the anti-terror regulatory, policy and legislative landscape, particularly the 2015 National Risk Assessment (NRA) and its impact, particularly on the Muslim community.
  • That the federal government amend the NSIRA Act to allow for complaints from the public regarding the CRA’s national security-related activities.
  • That NSIRA and the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) coordinate to carry-out regular reviews of the CRA’s anti-terrorism activities – including the Charities Directorate and RAD – going forward.

The full report is available at:

More information:
Tim McSorley, national coordinator
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
(613) 241-5298

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