London Mayor Joe Fontana is defending the work of the Trinity Global Support Foundation amid reports the Canada Revenue Agency could pull its charitable status.
He is a board member with the foundation, and in an interview with CTV News, said the organization had done nothing to violate the rules set up by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
In 2012, Trinity Global issued $152 million in charitable receipts.
The mayor’s son, Joe Fontana Jr., who is identified as the foundation’s president on its website, would not answer questions about the CRA’s decision on Thursday.
“The board hasn’t authorized me to issue a statement at this time.”
But the mayor confirms lawyers for Trinity Global are asking the courts for time to defend against having its registered charity status revoked.
“We facilitate the issuance of a tax receipt once we’ve done our due diligence, we’ve done it with auditors, we’ve done it with third party evaluators to make sure we are in compliance,” the mayor says.
According to its filing with the CRA, $136 million worth of tax receipts were issued based on an evaluation of donated medical equipment, supplies and educational materials.
In a video posted on YouTube, Joe Jr. outlines some of the work done by the foundation, including partnering with organizations in Africa and distributing HIV and AIDS antiretroviral medication.
“It’s not as if holus, bolus we give a receipt because someone thinks it’s worth X number of dollars,” the mayor says, “There are some pretty rigourous rules that we have to abide with.”
The Canada Revenue Agency won’t comment on the proceedings, but confirms that Trinity Global is still registered as a charity.
And while Londoners are debating whether the mayor’s ties to the foundation are too close, he says his work there is unrelated to his position as the mayor.
“I don't want to apologize for what I'm doing, I sleep very well at night.”
Trinity Global released a statement from board chair Rose Gilmore on Thursday evening saying it will fight to keep its charitable status.
The statement reads: “On February 1, 2013, the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency indicated that it intended to revoke the charitable status of the Trinity Global Support Foundation, after the expiration of 30 days from that letter.
“Trinity has filed a Notice of Application in the Federal Court of Appeal requesting a stay of the CRA’s decision to revoke until the Foundation has an opportunity to object and appeal this decision.
“The Foundation intends to file a Notice of Objection in due course. Trinity continues to focus its efforts on various charitable activities and causes. Since this matter is now before the Courts, the Foundation will not be issuing any further statements.”