Evidence of meeting #49 for Finance in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was charities.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Greg Thomson  Director of Research, Charity Intelligence Canada
Kate Bahen  Managing Director, Charity Intelligence Canada

1:35 p.m.

Managing Director, Charity Intelligence Canada

Kate Bahen

I would say that with WE Charity, our ratings measure objective metrics that don't capture accurately our concerns about its governance, and also that there were unique characteristics with the flow of donations to for-profit private businesses.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Let me ask you another question, then.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Vaughan, just let Ms. Bahen complete her answer.

1:35 p.m.

Managing Director, Charity Intelligence Canada

Kate Bahen

That's fine, sir.

August 6th, 2020 / 1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

You give the poppy fund from the Royal Canadian Legion zero, and you raise extraordinary concerns about transparency, extraordinary concerns about impact. Would you suggest that the Canadian government and Canadians, based on the opposition appraisal of your fine work, cease any relationship whatsoever with the poppy fund, based on your analysis, which has been described by members of the opposition as valuable, good work, excellent and impressive? Would you suggest that's a fair way to proceed with the poppy fund, based on your very harsh review?

1:35 p.m.

Managing Director, Charity Intelligence Canada

Kate Bahen

That's an interesting example, sir, because the poppy fund Legion in Calgary, which has that rating, has—

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

It's not the Calgary one. The Calgary one is separate. I'll get to that later.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Ms. Bahen, go ahead.

1:35 p.m.

Managing Director, Charity Intelligence Canada

Kate Bahen

If you go to the CRA, you see that there are over 280 Legions and poppy funds, but the largest in Canada is the one in Calgary. Since our research report—and we have covered it for years—it has actually been folded back into the Legion command, so it no longer exists, and it was because of the concerns about its financial transparency.

You have a charity that is refusing to say how much in donations, that refuses to provide its audited financial—

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

I just looked at your website. They're still ranked at zero, and I don't share your appraisal.

On the Jewish—

1:35 p.m.

Managing Director, Charity Intelligence Canada

Kate Bahen

That's wonderful, and I appreciate that.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

The Jewish National Fund is also an organization to which you have given a zero and very harsh criticism. This is the organization that named a bird sanctuary after the former prime minister, that held fundraisers hosted by Linda Frum, that has been celebrated by a former foreign minister, John Baird. They get a zero as well.

Would you suggest that the Conservative Party in particular, and others, should also refrain from conducting business with this charity, based on the fact that they scored three stars lower than WE Charity?

1:35 p.m.

Managing Director, Charity Intelligence Canada

Kate Bahen

Do you know that you can only receive its audited financial statements through a request for information with the charity's directorate—

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

I'm just going by your score system.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Adam, just give the lady time to answer, please.

Go ahead, Ms. Bahen.

1:35 p.m.

Managing Director, Charity Intelligence Canada

Kate Bahen

For every dollar you donate, 50¢ goes to the cause, and—

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Which is even lower than WE.

1:35 p.m.

Managing Director, Charity Intelligence Canada

Kate Bahen

Absolutely, and if you read its annual report to understand the work it does and the programs and benefits it provides, it receives a C-. If you look at the charity's financial statements, you see that it has 3.7 years of cash on its balance sheet to fund its programs. Relative to the other 780 charities we have rankings on, it ranks—

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Just on your assessment of the Quebec operations of WE, you do know that they have a head office at 3736 Saint Hubert Street in Montreal.

1:35 p.m.

Managing Director, Charity Intelligence Canada

Kate Bahen

It's difficult to keep track of all their real estate.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

I just checked their website while you were speaking.

The second point I would have is this. Out of the top 100 charities—

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

This will be the last question.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Out of the top 100 charities you have in Canada, can you explain why only five are in Quebec? Only two serve francophone populations, and the other three are international-facing, except for one local community organization. Why are your records on Quebec activity so deplorably low? Is it in part due to the fact that you have vacancies on your board and have staff members serving as board members in the interim and have no francophone members, or is it simply because you don't have—

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

I have a point of order.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Vaughan, we have a point of order.

Mr. Julian, go ahead.