The charity that paid to have a private investigator tail a prominent Manitoba judge also helped a Manitoban unsuccessfully try to get a licence plate with "ASIMIL8" on it.

The charity that paid to have a private investigator tail a prominent Manitoba judge also helped a Manitoban unsuccessfully try to get a licence plate with "ASIMIL8" on it.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which has been listed as a charity by the Canada Revenue Agency since October 2010, says it has won more than 30 court victories and out-of-court settlements with its free legal representation.

But it lost when it tried to help a Star Trek fan get an "ASIMIL8" licence plate. The Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench agreed with the decision by Manitoba Public Insurance that the wording was associated with the assimilation of Indigenous people.

Similarly, the charity filed a court application in support of Lorne Grabher, a Nova Scotian resident who was denied reinstatement of his personalized licence plate "GRABHER" because it was determined to be socially unacceptable. The province's Supreme Court later agreed with the registrar to revoke the plates.

The group currently represents Amy Hamm, a Vancouver nurse who is the subject of complaints filed with the BC College of Nurses and Midwives because she helped pay for a billboard showing support for author J.K. Rowling. Rowling was accused of transphobia in 2019 after expressing support for a woman who faced losing her job because of her belief men cannot become women.

The billboard, put up beside a busy downtown Vancouver street in late 2020, was removed within 30 hours.

As well, the charity has also filed challenges against federal COVID-19 public health orders that forced Canadian residents to stay in a quarantine hotel at their own expense upon returning to Canada.

In its home province of Alberta, it filed a legal challenge against the governing United Conservative Party's law approving its public health emergency powers on April 9, 2020.

As part of its year-end charitable reporting, the centre says its programs are for "educating the public about human rights and constitutional freedoms, and providing legal assistance to defend the human rights and constitutional freedoms of Canadians when their rights and freedoms are threatened."

In 2020 it had $2,639,500 in revenue, including $2,092,898 in donations for which tax receipts were issued. As well, $466,319, or 17.67 per cent of its funding, came from gifts from other registered charities.

It reported it had received no government funding that year.

The centre told the Canada Revenue Agency that in 2020 it spent $2,149,832, including $1.7 million on its charitable programs and $163,291 on management and administration.

It paid $743,000 in wages for eight full-time employees and six part-time employees, with the highest earner making between $120,000 to $159,999.

The charity has 13 directors or trustees, including its president, John Carpay, who joined in Oct. 2011 and resigned on Tuesday.

In the report to the tax agency, the centre admitted it had received donations or gifts valued at $10,000 or more from donors who didn't live in Canada, weren't a Canadian citizen, employed in Canada, or running a business in Canada.

It also said it spent a tad more than $1 million on "litigation, education, GST, website."





Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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