Rideau Hall is refusing to say how much David Johnston gave to charity last year, though the Governor General is urging all taxpayers to donate more to worthy causes.
Johnston’s staff would not comment on which of Canada’s 85,000 federally-registered charities are supported by the Governor General and his wife Sharon.
“This information remains private,” Marie-Eve Letourneau of the Rideau Hall Press Office told Blacklock’s. Asked to confirm whether Johnston made a charitable claim of any kind on his 2012 tax return, Letourneau replied: “I will check and get back to you.”
Parliament doubled Johnston’s salary to $270,602 last January 1 after amending the Governor General’s Act to require that he pay federal tax.
Johnston has made charities a hallmark of his tenure as commander-in-chief. In a recent statement observing National Philanthropy Day, the Governor General described donations as a moral obligation: “There are those among us who give every day for no other reason than it is the right thing to do (original italics). With every moment of giving, they are changing lives.”
And in a Nov. 13 speech in Québec City, Johnston said that “giving has been in my life from the very start.”
“How can we get all Canadians to give?” he said; “One of the first instances of giving that I was exposed to came from my own family. My paternal grandparents were devout Methodists. They were also quite poor, and yet they donated the first 10 percent of their income to charitable causes.”
However Johnston has remained vague on his personal annual contributions. At the University of Waterloo, where he spent 11 years as president, third-party donors financed a David Johnston International Experience Award and the David Johnston Research And Technology Park.
In launching a national campaign My Giving Moment Johnston noted he and his wife had financed a Waterloo bursary in honour of his mother-in-law prior to his appointment as governor general in 2010.
Canadians’ contributions to charities have remained static at 5.7 million since 1990 though the number of tax-filers has grown from $17 million to $24 million over the same period, by federal estimate.
Parliament this year raised charitable credits for first-time donors in a bid to encourage giving. A previous credit paid 15 percent on the first $200 donated to a registered charity, and 29% on donations above $200.
The new so-called First Time Donor’s Super Credit pays 40% on the first $200, and 54% after that, but only as a one-time benefit for contributors who have not previously given to charity since 2007.
The Department of Finance projects the higher credits will attract 590,000 first-time donors.
By Tom Korski