Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
It concentrates on economic policy, international trade, environmental justice and social policy. It is especially known for publishing an alternative federal budget on an annual basis. The CCPA claims that its estimates of budgetary surpluses have consistently been more accurate than those of the government. The CCPA is a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency, and it reported $5.6 million in revenues in 2013. Think tanks such as the CCPA, C.D. Howe Institute, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Fraser Institute and Montreal Economic Institute have charity status in Canada through their work in the advancement of education. The CCPA is based in Ottawa but has branch offices in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Regina, Toronto and Halifax. It is funded primarily through individual donations, but also receives research grants, and has institutional support from trade unions.
The CCPA has recently launched a new research and public awareness campaign called the Growing Gap. Its research claims to demonstrate the growth of income inequality in Canada and offer solutions.
The CCPA was founded in Ottawa in 1980 by a group of largely Carleton University professors who wished to re-create something akin to the League for Social Reconstruction (1931-1942) which in the inter-war period had promoted social, economic, and political change for Canada. Michael Kelway Oliver, a former professor of Political Science at McGill and President of Carleton University was the first CCPA president. He was succeeded by Peter Findlay, a professor of Social Work at Carleton. In 1987 Duncan Cameron, then at the University of Ottawa, became president; he was succeeded by Larry Brown, NUPGE Secretary Treasurer, in 2000.
The CCPA began with funding from trade unions and individual members. The first Executive Director was Robert Clarke, who was succeeded by Jim Davidson, and then Sandra Sorensen. Bruce Campbell is the current Executive Director.
In 1997 the CCPA opened its Vancouver office with Seth Klein as B.C. Director. This was followed by Winnipeg, Regina, and Halifax.
The CCPA publishes books, research studies, reports, and distributes media commentaries. Its flagship publication is the CCPA Monitor edited by Ed Finn.
Initially housed at 251 Laurier West in Ottawa, the national office is now at 251 Bank St. From modest beginnings, an operating budget of $125,000, and a full-time staff of two, the CCPA began to grow in the late 1980s until today it has a multi-million dollar budget and a staff of over 20.
Projects and Initiatives
Alternative Federal Budget
The CCPA publishes an annual alternative spending plan. In 2012 the CCPA alternative budget argued the federal government could avoid spending cuts by increasing revenue through higher corporate taxes and by creating a new tax bracket for people earning over $250,000. In 2014 the CCPA urged the Canadian federal government to "abandon austerity measures, raise taxes and delay their deficit-killing deadline by a year in order to revive Canada's sluggish economy, lower unemployment and reduce poverty." Their report claimed that Canadian corporations have not been investing enough or contributing enough towards the Canadian economy since 2012. Report authors expressed concern about an "alarming" rise in household debt.
The CCPA has since May 1994 published a bimonthly national magazine called The Monitor.
Tax Freedom Day rebuttal
A 2005 study by Osgoode Hall Law Professor Neil Brooks and CCPA legal scholar, concluded that the Fraser Institute's widely promoted Tax Freedom Day (described as the date each year when the average Canadian's income no longer goes to paying government taxes) included flawed accounting. According to Brooks' study, the Fraser Institute's methods of accounting excluded several important forms of income and inflated tax figures, moving the date nearly two months later in the year.
Canada Revenue Agency political-audit of CCPA
In 2012 the Canada Revenue Agency launched its $13.4-million program through which it undertook a political-audit of 52 charities, including CCPA, "to determine whether any are violating a rule that limits their spending on political activities to 10 per cent of resources." By 2014 the CRA claimed on its website that the CCPA "appears" to be "biased" and "one-sided." In an open letter 400 academics called for a moratorium on the CCPA audit, claiming that this is an attempt by the Conservative government to "intimidate, muzzle and silence its critics." Neither of the market-oriented think tanks C.D. Howe Institute and Macdonald-Laurier Institute were audited.
- Babbage, Maria (2 April 2014), "Canada Budget 2014: 'Do-Nothing' Plan Could Harm Economy, CCPA Warns", The Huffington Post, retrieved 17 September 2014
- Beeby, Dean (14 September 2014). "Academics calls for moratorium on CRA political audit of think-tank". Ottawa, Ontario: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Beeby, Dean (1 September 2014). "Left-wing think-tank targeted for tax audit because its research shows 'bias'". Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Brooks, Neil (16 June 2005), Tax Freedom Day - A Flawed, Incoherent, and Pernicious Concept (PDF), retrieved 2005-12-11
- "Registered Charity Information Return for The Fraser Institute", Canada Revenue Agency, 2010
- Carter, Terrance S. (28 June 2012), "Playing by the rules: Political activities fair game for charities", Charity Law Bulletin (286), retrieved 17 September 2014
- "Tax Freedom Day in Canada", Fraser Institute, 3 June 2011, retrieved 17 September 2014
- Gunter, Lorne (23 January 2012). "Big cuts needed in Ottawa’s bloated public service". Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Professor Neil Brooks, Osgoode Hall, 2005, retrieved 11 December 2005
- Tencer, Daniel; Raj, Althia (15 March 2012), Canada Budget 2012: Alternative Federal Budget Proposes Tax Hikes On Wealthy, Corporations, retrieved 17 September 2014