By choosing activism over easy but restrictive fundraising, CYCC has set a strong example for all environmental campaigners in Canada.
When Canada’s government launched a smear campaign against environmental groups, accusing them of violating limits on political advocacy by registered charities, it hoped that the threat of time-consuming and expensive audits — and the threat of lost revenue — would intimidate them into inaction.
But instead of abandoning action to protect its income, one of Canada’s most important environmental groups has decided to give up tax-free status, freeing it to fight the government and the fossil fuel industry, head-on.
Cameron Fenton, National Director of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, made the announcement on January 2.
“From record setting deadly heat waves, to super storms like Sandy and Bopha, to the unprecedented Arctic and Greenland ice sheet melt, history will remember 2012 as the year the climate changed. That means that 2013 needs to be the year that we bring the warming back home.
“That’s why the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition is taking a leap of faith and leaving charitable status behind. The decision to move away from charitable status was made because, frankly, we need to take the gloves off when it comes to fighting climate change. We are up against the most powerful and wealthiest industry on the planet, one which spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each day to keep business as usual on track, and to keep the planet warming.”
CYCC, a coalition of both organizational and individual members, was founded in 2006. Under Canadian law, donors to registered charities receive tax deductions – but the organization cannot spend more than 10% of revenues on political advocacy, and cannot support or oppose any political party or candidate. By giving up charitable status, CYCC has freed itself to focus on building a country-wide student movement against the eco-vandals.
As a first step, CYCC’s has partnered with US-based 350.org to create Fossil Free Canada, “to foster and support divesting campuses across Canada from fossil fuels.”
“We’re putting our energy into building a movement that can take on the fossil fuel industry, and we’re starting on campuses across Canada by joining the fossil fuel divestment movement. Already schools like McGill and the University of Ottawa are working to divest their campuses from dirty energy in Canada, and in its first month in the United States over 192 schools have started up campaigns.”
By choosing gloves-off activism over easy but restrictive fundraising, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition has set a strong example for all environmental campaigners in Canada. It deserves to be supported – and emulated.