New Democrats urging the public to voice concerns regarding Societies Act changes

 VICTORIA – B.C.’s New Democrat opposition  have been urging the public to voice their concerns regarding the BC Liberal government’s proposed changes to the Societies Act which could silence non-government organizations, and tie them up in court battles.

New Democrat opposition spokesperson for justice, Leonard Krog, and spokesperson for finance, Carole James, sent a letter to organizations and individuals around the province last month about the Liberals’ white paper that outlines their proposed changes to the act.

“One particularly concerning proposed change could allow any person that the court deems to be an ‘appropriate person’ to seek an order from the B.C. Supreme Court that a non-profit society is not acting in the public interest,” said Krog in the letter. “That means well-funded opponents of any non-profit could force them into court to defend their work.”

Krog said the deadline for submissions is Wednesday, October 15, and the public can voice their concerns at www.fin.gov.bc.ca/pld/fcsp/society_act_discussion.htm  “We believe non-profit societies play a vital role in our communities, providing a diverse range of important services,” said Krog.  “We are particularly concerned about the direction the B.C. Liberal government is taking in its decision to potentially tie up non-profit organizations with limited resources in lengthy, and costly, court battles.” Krog said the federal government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper made similar changes in an effort to crackdown on non-profit organizations, including changing the rules on registered charities that issue tax receipts to their donors.

“It is alarming that we now see Christy Clark’s BC Liberal government following suit,” said Krog. “If these proposed changes come to the B.C. legislature, the New Democrat opposition caucus will be here to hold the government to account for reckless changes that could endanger the work of B.C.’s non-profit organizations.”