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January 21, 2015

Canada Revokes Right-to-Die Group's Charity Status

A Toronto organization that advocates giving terminally ill people the right to doctor-assisted suicide has become the first Canadian group to lose its charity registration since the country's tax office launched a crackdown on nonprofit politicking, the CBC and the Toronto Star report.

The Canada Revenue Agency said Dying With Dignity's mission statement and activities allow it to "substantially focus on political activities and appear to support a political purpose," and that officials erred in granting the group charity status in 1982 and confirming it in 2011. The organization, which describes itself as a health and education charity, said it will not fight the ruling, which takes effect February 15.

The tax agency began conducting special audits of charities' political activity in 2012 with dedicated funding from Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government. Critics contend the government is aiming to muzzle environmental, human rights, and other groups that oppose its policies. The tax office says ideology has played no role in the audits.