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Ontario Court Finds Bias in Audit Against Muslim Charity, Dismisses Case Instead of Intervening

Ontario Court Finds Bias in Audit Against Muslim Charity, Dismisses Case Instead of Intervening
folder_openAmericas... access_time 12 days ago
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By Staff, MEE

A Canadian court has dismissed a legal filing brought by a major Muslim organization that is accusing the government of bias in an audit. The court ruled there was bias in the case, but said it could not intervene in an ongoing government investigation.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Markus Koehnen said in his ruling, that while he is sympathetic to many of the arguments laid out by the Muslim Association of Canada [MAC], the court should not make a ruling on a government body's ongoing process.

"In some respects, the current status of the audit can be seen as a work in progress," Koehnen wrote, as reported by the Canadian press. "Intervening now would be akin to the court interfering in the middle of a process and telling a party that it could not think a certain thought as it was working through a problem."

MAC, one of the largest Muslim organizations in the country with more than a dozen chapters, welcomed the fact that there was an acknowledgment of the biases against it. However, MAC said the dismissal was a blow to their case.

"It's delaying justice for the Muslim community. They are acknowledging that there is bias in the CRA process and government bureaucracies but stating the judge's hands are tied because the bureaucratic process is not completed," Middle East Eye cited MAC's director of communications and community engagement, Nabil Sultan as saying.

"And we are deeply concerned with that because essentially it prioritizes government bureaucracy over the charter rights of Muslim Canadians."

Sultan said that MAC is deliberating its next steps and whether or not to appeal the case, adding that the organization would not stop advocating against the targeting of Muslim charities in the country.

"The court's ruling is not only legally wrong but also departs from the courts' long-standing commitment to safeguarding the rights of all Canadians," Geoff Hall, a lawyer who represents MAC, said in a statement.

"When the state overreaches and the rights of Canadians are infringed, timely intervention is not just an option, it's an obligation. Unfortunately, the court has lost sight of this fundamental principle."

Its legal battle began in April 2022, when MAC submitted a filing with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and over the next several months it went through a number of court hearings discussing its case.

The filing comes as a result of a years-long audit on the charity, which is being conducted by the Canada Revenue Agency [CRA]. In 2015, the organization received a notice from CRA that it would be audited.

Over the next 13 months, the CRA searched hundreds of desks and closets, and downloaded over a million financial transactions, nearly 200 gigabytes of email data, and almost 500,000 emails.

The audit is still taking place after eight years.