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Canada falters - June 6

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Call for Canadian carbon tax rejected
Green's plan could drive up gas price by 12 cents a litre

Mike De Souza, CanWest News Service
OTTAWA -- Elizabeth May's proposal of a $50-per-tonne carbon tax, which could drive up gasoline prices by 12 cents a litre, drove a wedge between her Green party and the other federal opposition parties.

The proposed carbon tax, which could climb to $100 a tonne by 2020, is at the heart of a new climate change plan unveiled by May as the only way to avert a climate catastrophe. Revenues from the new tax would be used to reduce income and payroll taxes, and to establish income supplements and other incentives to encourage deep reductions in the greenhouse gas pollution that is linked to global warming.

"The fundamental key point is that we need carbon taxes," May told a news conference. "Right now, the Green Party of Canada is the only Canadian political party prepared to state this obvious reality. We will use those carbon taxes to reduce taxes elsewhere."
(6 June 2007)


Suzuki fears sharp criticism of Ottawa prompts audits

Martin Mittelstaedt, Globe and Mail
David Suzuki is Canada's most outspoken environmentalist, and regularly lambastes those, such as Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whom he deems insufficiently green.

But he's worried that shooting from the lips too often about federal politicians may have made his namesake environmental charity, the David Suzuki Foundation, the target of vindictive federal tax auditors. It's such a touchy subject that Mr. Suzuki has become nervous when he gives speeches that Ottawa might hold anything he says as a citizen against his environmental group.

"I am being hounded by the current government because I have a foundation that has my name and so they're trying to take away my charitable [status]," he said in a speech on Monday in Toronto at a conference of the American Public Transportation Association.

He told the transit trade group he had to preface his speech with a tax-auditor-satisfying caveat. "Everything I say is my personal opinion, has nothing to do with my foundation."

Many of Canada's large environmental groups are also federally recognized charities, and worry that aggressive criticism of government policies might lead to tax-audit retribution, but Mr. Suzuki is one of the few to raise such concerns publicly.

The Canada Revenue Agency, the federal body that audits charities, refused to answer questions on whether it is going after Mr. Suzuki's group.

...in an interview yesterday after a news conference on Parliament Hill, Mr. Suzuki said the foundation has been audited three times.

"I don't know what motivates them, but certainly the last one was a very painful thing for us. It dragged on for months. In fact, I'm not sure that it's been completed yet," he said. "And it sure seemed to me that they were dredging to find something."

The government oversight of the Suzuki Foundation has been more intense than what is typically done to charities. According to Canada Revenue Agency figures posted on its website, only 596 charities of approximately 82,200 registered were audited in 2005, a rate that means a group would stand to be audited less than once every 100 years.
(6 June 2007)
Canada's version of freedom of speech: use tax-status to browbeat criticism. -BA

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