Campus Digest: Law professor helps redefine ‘gift’ in giving

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance has endorsed a tax reform proposal advocated by Western Law professor Adam Parachin, who appeared before the Standing Committee as an expert witness in January 2012.



The committee has been studying ways of improving tax incentives for charitable giving over the course of the last year.  As part of its deliberations, the committee accepted written submissions and invited expert witnesses, including Parachin, to make submissions in person.

In his written and oral submissions, Parachin recommended that a simplified statutory definition of “charitable donation” be adopted.

“The current legal tests to identify the range of donations qualifying as charitable ‘gifts’ for income tax purposes are needlessly complicated and overly restrictive,” Parachin said. He added “case law and regulatory practices have through time lost track of why charitable gifts receive special tax treatment in the first place.”

The committee agreed with Parachin that this is an issue warranting reform. Tax Incentives for Charitable Giving in Canada, to be delivered to the House of Commons, includes the recommendation that the definition of ‘gift’ be reviewed to ensure greater simplicity and reduce administrative compliance costs for charities.

“This is an important first step toward improving the law while achieving greater efficiency for charities.” Parachin said.


  • Western Geology/Planetary Science graduate students Tanya Harrison, Cassandra Marion and Annemarie Pickersgill have been named among 15 international winners of the sixth Lunar and Planetary Institute Career Development Award. The awards, given to graduate students who submitted a first-author abstract to the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, are based on a review of the application materials by a panel of planetary scientists. “This is also a major coup for Western as never before have three awards been given to Canadian students and, as far as I can tell, never before have three awards been made to one institution period,” said Western professor Gordon Osinski, associate director of Western’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration. “My congratulations go out to Tanya, Cass and Annemarie, and to their co-supervisors, Livio Tornabene, Bob Linnen and Robbie Flemming, respectively.”
  • In 2012, more than 6 million Grade 1-12 students from 46 countries around the world, participated in the Math Kangaroo Contest.  On March 24, Western hosts one of 13 Canadian contests at the North Campus Building, rooms 114, 117 and 293. For information, visit before March 15.
  • Western Biology professor Irena Creed has been selected by Sweden’s Umeå University as one of the institution’s Female Guest Professorships. Creed will spend up to nine months in Sweden over the next three years strengthening research collaborations with Swedish academics and developing curriculum materials for the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Umeå and Western have a long-standing partnership through the Biotron, Western’s climate change research facility.
  • William Danaher, Dean of Theology at Huron University College, was named one of the six Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology by The Association of Theological Schools and the Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., awarded to scholars conducting creative and innovative theological research. This is a first-ever appointment for Huron.
    Danaher’s project, Witnesses, Confessions, Archives: The Ethics of Transitional Justice, will draw upon the Christian tradition to address the ambiguities, contestations and limitations in the goals and methods of transitional justice, which explores how international courts, tribunals and truth commissions address human rights abuses. During this year-long research fellowship, Danaher hopes to develop new avenues for theological reflection and ethical action within the wider church.
  • Western student Josh Sonshine has been nominated for a nationwide Community Achievement Award for his philanthropic work on campus and in the community. Visit for details on how to vote for Sonshine.
  • Earlier this month, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) launched a new competition for university students called Research for a Better Life: The Storytellers. The competition asks students to share a compelling account of their research in three minutes or less, participating to be one of 25 potential finalists to win $3,000 and to attend the 2013 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, after which five final winners will be invited to give a presentation at this year’s World Social Science Forum. Full details are available on SSHRC’s website,
  • Are you looking for a concert experience out of the ordinary? Don’t miss the chance to hear the one and only performance of the 6 Pianos ensemble at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 1 in the Paul Davenport Theatre. Admission is free. This group was founded last year by the six Don Wright Faculty of Music master’s students in John Hess’ collaborative piano studio. Talisa Blackman, Eric Charbonneau, Denise Jung, Jieyin Li, Jennifer Mitchell and Marie-Michelle Raby are performing symphonic works arranged for six pianos.