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Charity suspended over terror financing concerns gets Canada Summer Jobs grant

Charity suspended over terror financing concerns gets Canada Summer Jobs grant
Canada
The Liberals are changing the controversial Canada Summer Jobs attestation that required program applicants to attest respect for a range of established rights, including access to abortion.

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A Toronto-area organization that was suspended by charities regulators and fined $550,000 over concerns it may have funded armed militants in Pakistan has been awarded a federal summer jobs grant.

Although the Islamic Society of North America-Canada is serving a one-year suspension imposed by the Canada Revenue Agency, it was approved for 2019 Canada Summer Jobs funding.

Based in Mississauga, Ont., the group is to receive $25,787 from Employment and Social Development Canada to create five summer jobs, a department spokesperson said.

ISNA-Canada is o from the federal charities registry, meaning it cannot issue tax receipts to donors.

It was sanctioned following an audit that alleged it had “failed to conduct any meaningful due diligence” when money was transferred to Kashmir, where Hizbul Mujahideen militants have been fighting Indian troops.

The auditors wrote that ISNA-Canada “may have, knowingly or unknowingly, provided the benefits of its status as a registered charity to support the efforts of a political party and its armed wing.”

“It is the CRA’s view that the society’s resources may have, directly or indirectly, been used to support the political efforts of Jamaat-e-Islami and/or its armed wing Hizbul Mujahideen,” according to CRA documents.

Hizbul Mujahideen is a listed terrorist group in India and the European Union, the CRA added.

ISNA-Canada could not be reached for comment but has denied any links to terrorism.

After its charity status was suspended on Sept. 12, 2018, the group’s board said in a letter that reforms had been implemented “so that the mistakes made are not repeated.”

According to CRA documents, ISNA-Canada no longer operates overseas and has improved its governing structure and removed the official allegedly responsible for transferring the money.

The summer jobs program, which funds employment for 15-to-30-year-olds, became controversial when the Liberal government imposed a so-called “valued test” aimed at excluding employers that opposed abortion.

But the department responsible for the program said national security and charitable status fell outside its mandate.

The government began receiving applications for 2019 job grants on Dec. 17, 2018 — three months after ISNA-Canada was suspended. The program provides funding for jobs up until Sept. 1, 2019. The ISNA-Canada suspension does not expire until Sept. 11, 2019.

A department spokesperson said ISNA-Canada had also received job funding last summer and “on-site monitoring” was conducted in July 2018.

“During this monitoring, the department did not find any instances of breaches of the provisions in the agreement, nor cause for revocation of funding for this organization,” Christopher Simard said.

“This season, the department will conduct on-site monitoring of the project with the Islamic Society of North America-Canada to ensure that CSJ funding is used according to the terms and conditions.”

Pakistan is a “particularly elevated risk for terrorist financing activity,” according to the 2018 report of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.
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