Editor’s note: This headine and opening paragraph of this story has been changed reflect the minister’s willingness to respond to questions and to clarify the quote in the 9th paragraph. The article has also been updated with clarification from the CLA over the status of its transparency.
Minister of Sport Kirsty Duncan says the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) answers to itself and not the federal government when she was questioned over the organization’s alleged lack or transparency.
“Regarding requirements all of our sport federations, and that would include the (CLA) , are required to put forth an annual report or statement that goes to Sport Canada as well as to its board members so they are accountable to their board members,” she explained.
The CLA said it makes its budgets, financial statements and reports available to all of its members. It also said it provides progress reports, annual reports and financials to funding partners such as Sport Canada, making it accountable to more than just its board.
The CLA, which lost its charitable status in 2010, is currently embroiled in a dispute with national team players which could see Canada miss out on the world championships for the first time since 1967.
The organization and its players are trying to come together on an agreement over costs to national lacrosse players, who often have to pay to play at major events.
Players often need to find backing from sponsors, a job made more difficult by the lack of tax status which would allow backers to get tax receipts for their donations.
Without its RCAAA status, the CLA can no longer issue tax receipts.
“When players have to go out and get sponsorships or we need to fundraise for the program, not being able to issue a charitable receipt makes it extra challenging,” said Dean French, a former chairman with the men’s lacrosse team.
“It’s a little embarrassing, but we had our heritage cup game, Team Canada versus Team USA in Hamilton,” French said. “Great crowds, great experience … and would’ve been great to run a 50-50 draw for the national team, but without the charitable status, we couldn’t even do that.”
The CRA revoked the lacrosse association’s status because it issued “more than $60.7 million in donation receipts for abusive transactions arising from its role as a participant in tax shelter arrangements that, in the opinion of the (Revenue) Minister, do not qualify as gifts.”
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When asked why the federal government is continuing to fund the CLA despite concerns the Canadian Revenue Agency has over its governance, Duncan pointed that the organization was seeking charitable status.
“Let me just begin by saying we are proud to support our national sports organizations across the country,” she responded. “It is my understanding that the lacrosse association of Canada applied for charitable status and we will let that process unfold under the Canada Revenue Agency.”
*With files from Global News’ Megan Robinson and Andrew Russell
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