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Equal Voice, a Canadian non-profit organization, has reportedly failed to file a tax return for the past eight years.
The group is a multi-partisan group and has since 2001 committed to getting more women involved in all levels of government. They receive millions of dollars in government funding to run programs aimed at getting more women involved in politics.
In 2018 alone Equal Voice was given $3.8 million to last until 2021 for the Daughters of the Vote program which brings women together from all 338 ridings to the House of Commons for a day of political advocacy. The group has received $5.17 million from the federal government since 2015.
From 2010 to 2018 the group whose non-profit status has allowed it to not pay income tax has only recently been called out for its failure to submit tax returns.
The Communications Manager for Equal Voice, Nasha Brownridge, said in an email, “As you may know, Equal Voice (EV) is a non-profit organization and is exempt from income tax. EV did, however, inadvertently and unintentionally, miss filing T1044 and T2 returns for the 2010 to 2018 fiscal years,” later stating that there are no taxes due.
As a non-profit which is not a charity, Equal Voice would have to file a T2 return and a T1044 due to their assets being well above $200,000 as per Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) rules.
Penalties will still be applied due to the failure to file the returns. Brownridge had said that “Equal Voice made a voluntary disclosure to CRA and have applied under the Voluntary Disclosure Program” in an attempt to waive the penalties, which is a request that is still pending.
This new information comes days after four resignations from the group’s board of directors due to backlash within the organization at the firing of three visible minority staffers.
The executive director of Equal Voice, Eleanor Fast, has denied any controversy to the firings, stating, “The recent staffing changes had nothing to do with anyone’s race, ethnicity, religion”, going on to say that insinuation of discrimination is baseless.
Despite this recent internal struggle between staff Equal Voice is not new to controversy.
At an April event for the Daughters of the Vote, only a few dozen of the 338 present members would stand and clap for Andrew Scheer and many walked out of the House of Commons before he could deliver his speech.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t get treated much better having many Equal Voice members turn away from him during his speech and grill him during a period of questions for the expulsion of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott. Only Jagmeet Singh was given the courtesy of the crowd at the event.
The group has been recently criticized for perceived “hatred” towards conservative women by current and former members of Equal Voice who claim that they were shamed for associating with certain politicians and policies.
Hannah Dawson-Murphy a Novia Scotia conservative attendant of the Daughters of the Vote event in April had recounted the hate she received in multiple instances during the event.
“After the word got out that I was a conservative and that my friends were conservative, it went downhill from there, some delegates refused to call me by name. They would call me white woman, they would call me racist and fascist, they would call us colonizers, just these hateful, hateful terms” said Dawson Murphy.
Kathryn Marshall a women’s advocate and lawyer tweeted yesterday that Equal Voices seemed to have ruined their reputation and damaged their stated goal as a non-profit.
Equal Voice has become a parody of itself.— Kathryn Marshall (@Lawsome_) August 2, 2019
The current issues will hurt Equal Voices’ ability to advocate on behalf of women in politics in the near future. With all the infighting and shakeups to its leadership the non-profit may find it difficult to meet the goals of its mission statement as the controversies will regretfully take away from their focus on advocacy.