Charities Muffled & Distracted by Government Actions: Chill
Check out my newly completed thesis, now posted to www.garethkirkby.ca. I looked at how charities are affected by federal Canadian cabinet ministers seemingly suggesting that they are criminal organizations and terrorist organizations and working against the interests of their country. And how they are being affected by the federal government’s new regulations governing charities and the stepped up audits of the “political activities” of these charities.
I wondered: Is the government action causing a chill among charities, diverting them from speaking out about the issues they know so well, effectively muffling their voices at a time when we most need to hear from them?
And I looked at whether some kinds of charities are being targeted for attention, and what that really means. I examined why this is happening, and happening now, and what the implications of putting charities under the microscope are for public discussions about the choices we have in our economic, development, human rights, and environmental policies.
Most of us have our favourite charities that we donate to and wish the best for. Perhaps you view charities as experts—not the only experts, but experts just the same—in the issues connected to their Mission? And perhaps you believe that we need the best minds, from a cross-section of society including charities and research institutes and nonprofit organizations, to participate in the big debates about important issues? Their participation, and that of civil society generally, ensures that the best ideas rise to the top so that we as a society make the best all-around decisions.
My thesis explores issues like these, based on 21 interviews I conducted with leaders of some of Canada’s best-known and sometimes less-known charities, and with other experts on charities, law, government administration, and security and policing.
In a series of blog postings, I’ll share with you what I learned, exploring the issues raised in the thesis, and also including insights from my data that never made it into the thesis but should be discussed in public. And I’ll comment on current events through the prism of my research and interests in public conversations, civil society, and social movements.
Oh, and yes, I did find out that there is indeed an “advocacy chill,” that affects different charities to various extents. We are not fully getting the inclusive public discussion about topical and often controversial issues that we ought to have, that we as Canadians need to have if our democracy is going to be vigorous, and policy decisions the best available.
But more on that in the next posting.
Check out my thesis: www.garethkirkby.ca
I am a former journalist and media manager who recently completed my Master’s thesis for Royal Roads University and now work as a communications professional. I have been awarded a Webster Award of Distinction, among other awards, for my reporting.