This is a follow-up to an April 2022 article, which covered Rebel News suing the Canada Revenue Agency (the C.R.A.) for access to various subsidies. A Notice of Application was filed to challenge the C.R.A.’s decision. However, nothing seems to have been announced afterwards, which was odd.
As it turns out, the lawsuit was discontinued less than 2 months later. It was done on consent, and without costs. The Federal Court allows members of the public to check the status of cases online, and to get summaries of what has progressed.
There were no hearings or motions, just a Notice of Appearance filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the Attorney General of Canada.
While this lawsuit was publicly sold as a way to protect free speech, it comes across as far less idealistic. Rebel wanted to be classified as a QCJO, or a qualified Canadian journalism organization, and that was denied. There are significant financial considerations at play here.
This was also announced on Twitter.
But the April 7, 2022 article states this:
This is hyperbolic and misleading. The C.R.A. is responsible for overseeing various programs which result in tax breaks and subsidies, including for media outlets. The C.R.A. decided (rightly or wrongly) that Rebel News didn’t meet the criteria for subsidies.
There’s also the bemusement in seeing such a lawsuit coming from an organization that purports to rail against Trudeau funding the media at all.
Here are the current registered journalism organizations:
- La Presse Inc.
- The Narwhal News Society
- Presse-Ouest Ltée
- New Canadian Media
- The Local TO Publishing
- The Canadian Jewish News
- Chateauguay Valley Community Information Services
- Coopérative nationale de l’information indépendante
- La Gazette de la Mauricie
If Rebel had gotten their QCJO designation, what would they be receiving?
(a) Canadian Journalism Labour Tax Credit: this would pay up to 25% of salaries of the business’ employees, which are typically the biggest expense
(b) Digital News Subscription Tax Credit: subscribers would receive a tax rebate of up to 15%
(c) Registered Journalism Organization Status: going the next step, QCJOs would be able to qualify as RJO as well, and start issuing tax receipts, similar to how charities operate.
According to their own records, Rebel succeeded in getting 86% of the 2,000 donors that were sought. This would translate to approximately 1,720 individual donors.
If there really was such a top-notch legal team on the case, why abandon it in the beginning stages? Rebel hasn’t succeeded in getting the QCJO designation, so it’s not like Ottawa quietly capitulated.
However, it doesn’t seem that any of the money has been returned. The donation function on the article hasn’t been taken down either.
So, not only does that mean we’re not allowed to attend government press conferences, it also punishes us under Income Tax Act.
The C.R.A. has nothing to do with deciding who can attend government press conferences, or debates in political elections. So including this is a red herring. This lawsuit is about getting access to subsidy money, and tax breaks.
Or at least it was, until it was abandoned in May 2022.
FEDERAL COURT DOCUMENTS:
(A) T-720-22 Document #1 Notice Of Application
(B) T-720-22 Document #2 Notice of Appearance
(C) T-720-22 Document #4 Notice of Discontinuance
(D) T-720-22 Document #5 Affidavit of Service