|The building of William Jardine, CEO of the Canadian Quadriplegic Association witch just hat its charitable status revoked after Canada Revenue Agency ruled it a scam. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)
TORONTO — Canadian groups that help thousands with spinal cord injuries are distancing themselves from a so-called charity to help quadriplegics that has had its tax-exempt status revoked.
The Canadian Quadriplegic Association (CQA) was stripped of its charitable status last week after $419,700 collected from Canadians were allegedly unaccounted for with little or no paperwork to show for donations, an audit by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) found.
A Toronto phone number for the charity is out of service and there is no website. It does list people who are purportedly directors of the charity, but they couldn't be reached.
The charity's president and director is William Darrell Jardine, who lives at a Mimico Co-Operative Homes Inc., but is not listed as a tenant on the directory of the Summerhill Rd. lakefront building, in Toronto.
Jardine refused to talk about the charity when reached. He managed to inadvertently allow a QMI Agency news team into his wheelchair-equipped apartment on Monday for a brief exchange.
"I don't want to talk about that right now," Jardine said from his bed. "This is not the right time."
He claimed to be having a heart attack and said he had called 911, but no emergency personnel arrived.
Legitimate charities that help spinal cord injury victims are hoping Canadians will still donate.
Bill Adair, head of Canadian Paraplegic Association of Ontario, said donors should do their homework on organizations before they give.
"We are a very open and transparent organization," Adair said on Monday. "People should go online and check the organization's annual report and financial statements."
He said there are 33,000 people with spinal cord injuries in Ontario and 86,000 across Canada, many who need the public's help.
Robert "Bobby" White, executive director of Spinal Cord Injury Canada, also warned donors to be vigilant.
"It is unfortunate that these type of things happen," White said. People should find out more about an organization and how they use their money before donating."
CRA officials yanked the CQA's charitable status citing the group "was not complying with provisions of the Income Tax Act."
'The organization failed to maintain any books and records to supports its reported revenue and expenditures," wrote Cathy Hawara, Director General Charities Directorate. "The organization no longer meets the requirements necessary for charitable registration."
A CRA audit in Jan. 2012 found CQA failed to maintain proper books and records and provide officials with information.
"There were no general ledger, cash receipts and cash disbursements journals," auditors found. "There were no minute books, shareholders records or records of annual meetings of the directors."
They also failed to find bank statements, cancelled cheques, expense vouchers, donation receipts or donations lists.
CQA officials told auditors their records were stored in a computer that was stolen in a Jan. 2009 break in, yet they continued to operate and issue donation receipts until 2010.
The same officials said their secretary was not available for CRA questioning because she "had returned to Mexico."
Auditors said the association provided little assistance and all their bank accounts were closed.
"There was little to no activity," the auditors said of the accounts. "Only service charges were reported on the bank statements received."