ADL has received many inquiries about a much forwarded e-mail that alleges the Canadian Government has stripped Canada’s Magen David Adom (CMDA) of its nonprofit status for political reasons. The e-mail urges people to sign a petition or contact the Canadian Government directly to protest. This e-mail is based on outdated information.
This issue first arose in October and early November 2002. At that time, according to our contacts in the Canadian Jewish community, while a detrimental court decision was being appealed, private negotiations with a government agency had been successful and CMDA was continuing to operate as a nonprofit. Given the ongoing judicial appeal process, CMDA and other Canadian Jewish organizations were urging those concerned to refrain from sending letters or petitions to Canadian government officials. There have been no new developments since then, and people are still being urged to refrain from public action.
Below is the memo from the Canada-Israel Committee outlining the history of the situation.
January 31, 2003
There continues, until today, to be much misinformation being circulated, particularly via the Internet, about the status of Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel. We hope that this note will clarify some of the facts:
Last September, CMDA lost its case in the Federal Court of Appeal. By a majority of 2 to 1, the court upheld Canada Customs and Revenue Agency’s (CCRA) intention to revoke CMDA's registration as a charitable organization based on the absence of evidence that CMDA maintained control over the use of ambulance and other equipment it provided to MDA. The court, however, did not agree with CCRA that MDA's work in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem contravened Canadian "public policy." It ruled that using CMDA-donated ambulances in these disputed territories does not violate any Canadian public policy, because such a policy does not exist. All three judges agreed "there is no Canadian public policy expressed in an Act of Parliament or in any publicly available government document that a Canadian charitable organization cannot operate in the Occupied Territories."
Following the CMDA loss in the Federal Court, behind the scenes negotiations took place between CMDA and CCRA officials in order to resolve the issue so that CMDA would be able to retain its charitable status. At the beginning of November 2002, a deal was reached between the two parties and CMDA issued a press release stating the following:
“It has been reported that the Canadian Government has made a decision to deregister our organization as a charity. However, I am pleased to announce new developments which have occurred. CMDA has entered into an agreement with Charities Directorate which will enable our cause to continue uninterrupted. We are delighted that we will continue to be able to solicit the support of the Canadian Community for our fund-raising activities. Tax deductible receipts will be issued as usual.”
On Nov. 12, CMDA filed for leave to appeal the Federal Court of Appeal's ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada. Specifically, CMDA is appealing the question of its agency relationship to Magen David Adom Israel as far the transfer of ambulances and other equipment it provided to MDA.
At this time, CMDA is awaiting a decision whether it will be granted leave to appeal. If and when the case proceeds to the Supreme Court, the CIC will continue to keep the community informed of developments.
It should be reiterated that, with the cooperation of CCRA, CMDA remains a fully registered charity issuing tax deductible receipts.
Any initiatives at this time (i.e., petitions, letter writing campaigns, etc.,) are confusing and counter-productive; we therefore would encourage individuals to cease activities at this time.