"Carbon" Cadman spends over $110K as municipal foreign affairs minister

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Carbon Cadman's luggageCarbon Cadman's luggage looking a little worn

A few weeks ago, Vancouver COPE Councillor David Cadman made a big issue of how concerned he was about saving the environment. So concerned, that he wants to close two lanes on the Burrard Street Bridge to vehicular traffic to allow for the opening of new bicycle lanes. Over the years, Cadman has pontificated about his concern for almost every environmental cause known to man.

That's probably why our recent FOI regarding "Carbon" Cadman's (as he's known at CityCaucus.com headquarters) travel expenses came as such a surprise. We all know the average jet plane emits tonnes of carbon emissions per passenger.

Therefore, one would have expected a city councillor like David Cadman, a man who claims to be so concerned about the environment (notwithstanding his financial investments), would have limited his travel to help reduce his carbon emissions. Well, as we've reported here earlier about those involved in the Symbolic Environmentalist Movement, they don't always walk the walk.

As the de facto "municipal foreign affairs minister" for the Metro Vancouver Board and City of Vancouver, Carbon Cadman requested taxpayer reimbursements to cover a number of his overseas trips. Here are a few of the destinations we uncovered:

Ivory Coast, Africa - Amsterdam - New Mexico - Bonn, Germany - Madrid, Spain - San Francisco - Milan, Italy - Poznan, Poland - Kyoto, Japan - Auckland, New Zealand - Sydney, Australia - New York City - Salt Lake City, Utah - Jeju, Korea - Densapar, Bali - Kolding, Denmark - Sendai, Japan - AND THE LIST GOES ON...AND ON...

We simply don't have the research team or budget to actually measure Carbon Cadman's eco-footprint related to all of this travel, but we're hoping to apply for a grant from the Suzuki Foundation to see if they'll help offset some of our costs. We'll keep you posted.

What we do know is that Cadman likely accumulated tens of thousands of Aeroplan points over the years and we can only hope he donated some of those to the Aeroplan carbon offset program.

If any of you are interested in whether Carbon Cadman was flying executive or economy class, we are pleased to report that in most instances (that we could confirm), he flew economy. 

However, on Air Canada flight 855 from Vancouver to London, the boarding pass stamped "Executive First/Super Affaires" indicates he sat in row 10A. On Air Canada flight 035 from Vancouver to Osaka, Japan he is also listed as being seated in seat 4A "Executive First".

It should be noted that it would appear he paid for economy flights in both instances, but managed to have himself upgraded. Obtaining complimentary business class upgrades is somewhat of a regular occurrence for what are known as "Super Elite" members of Air Canada's rewards program.

Speaking of Aeroplan points, our FOI unearthed an excerpt from an interesting email to Carbon Cadman from his travel agent::

David - I found connection into Jeju with Asiana Airlines who are partners in Star Alliance so a few more aeroplan points to be gathered.  I will need to have the tickets issued tomorrow (Friday) so can you please okay it back to me. Thanks

You will note from the summary list provided below that Carbon Cadman has travelled alot as a representative for something known as ICLEI. Cadman is the president of ICLEI which states on their website:

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations that have made a commitment to sustainable development.

Over 1078 cities, towns, counties, and their associations worldwide comprise ICLEI's growing membership. ICLEI works with these and hundreds of other local governments through international performance-based, results-oriented campaigns and programs.

ICLEI provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. Our basic premise is that locally designed initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives.

Here is a summary of Cadman's travels as a municipal representative for Metro Vancouver:


Grand total $34,000

  • Amsterdam & New Mexico - ICLEI Sustainability and Transportation conference - $9225.63
  • Bonn, Germany - ICLEI Mayors conference on biodiversity - $5869.34
  • Europe - ICLEI European membership convention - $5023.49
  • ICLEI Urban Asia - Challenges of transition and governance - $3001.45
  • Barcelona, Spain and Milan, Italy  - IUCN World Congress - $5,871.90 + $118.02
  • Poznan, Poland - ICLEI Executive committee meeting - $503.13
  • Toronto, ICLEI World Secretariat meetings - $3782.35
  • Edmonton, ICLEI World Congress - $604.69


Grand total $33,709.22

  • Kyoto, Japan - conference on climate change - $3367.50
  • Auckland, New Zealand & Sydney, Australia - $8043.16
  • New York City - Sustainable development board meeting - $8356.02
  • Salt Lake City, Utah - Mayors gathering on climate change - $3049.07
  • Jeju, Korea - ICLEI executive meetings - $4884.86
  • Densapar, Bali - climate change conference - $6008.61


Grand total $17,849.59

  • Cape Town, South Africa - ICLEI World Congress - $7577.83
  • New York, New York - Conference on sustainable development - $3245.10
  • Chicago, USA - Planning to Action conference - $2661.17
  • Kolding, Denmark - ICLEI Board Meeting - $4365.49


Grand total $11,477.08

  • Sendai, Japan - ICLEI conference on sustainability - $5728.80
  • Salt Lake City, Utah - Mayor's gathering on climate change - $3,035.38
  • Montreal, QC - climate change summit - $2712.90

In addition, Cadman has also flown as a representive of the City of Vancouver. Here is a list of his expense claims for travel and conferences by year:


TOTAL: $21,864

If you add this up with his claims for reimbursement from Metro Vancouver taxpayers:

  • 2009 - TBD
  • 2008 - $34,000
  • 2007 - $33,709.22
  • 2006 - 17,849.59
  • 2005 - $11,477.08

THE GRAND TOTAL: $118,899.89


I suppose you think Cadman should travel to the ICLEI meetings by foot-powered blimp. Or maybe a dinghy. What would you recommend, or should we just not have global conferences anymore?

Carbon aside, this is a waste of our money, the ICLEI should probably be paying for executive travel out of its fees since the executive is a service to the organization. I don't imagine we get anything special out of having a councillor be chair of this organization so why should we pay?

Rather than take the doubtful "carbon" angle, why not write Cadman a letter (open, naturally) asking that he move at his next executive meeting that executive travel be paid out of ICLEI fees/donations, then post the response, or lack therof, on CC. That would be useful. At this point it's not his or anybody's fault.

PS: Try to make the letter polite.

This looks a lot like a witch hunt. 8 trips in 2008 is really not that many for a politician, relatively speaking. While I do agree that everyone should be trying to reduce their air travel, video conferencing technology is just not ubiquitous yet and a lot of travel can't be avoided.

Surely there are more pressing stories out there.

I completely disagree with Ashley. The number of meeting is far less important than the value to taxpayers associated with sending a representative to these meetings. So, the question is, what value has been delivered to the citizens Vancouver and Metro Vancouver associated with these junkets? Most of us find spending over $100,000 to be significant, and would expect some tangible benefits from those expenditures. Unfortunately, I am unaware of any identifiable benefits associated with this squandering of tax dollars.

Thank you very much for this information ,Good post thanks for sharing.

If everyone who has flown on a non-essential trip at any point in the past five years recuses themselves from commenting on this thread it's going to be mighty quiet in here.

I think there are many of us out here, but we're all getting ready to go to the Council meeting today, so if it's quiet....guess it just means we are at 12th and Cambie:-)

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