Another shipment from across the border arrives at the Tides Canada offices
Vivian Krause is an expert on the complex subject of charitable foundation money flowing into British Columbia for a variety of activist causes. CityCaucus.com recently featured a report based upon her unlikely encounter with David Suzuki. Our weekend report on Mayor Gregor Robertson's trip to New York prompted her to open up the books on Robertson's biggest backers – Joel Solomon and Carol Newell. The following article from her blog is re-printed here with Krause's permission.
Vancouver's Mayor Gregor Robertson says that he wants our city to re-think the transit of oil tankers through our waters. In light of the horrific oil spill in the Gulf, surely every port city should be re-check plans and preparations for mitigating inevitable risks. No matter how well-prepared we are, accidents still happen. So if Mayor Gregor Robertson has Canada's interests at heart, that's great. On the other hand, if the Mayor's recent move is partially to please the U.S. funders of his entourage, Vancouver voters have the right to know.
As far as I can tell, one of the biggest contributors to Mayor Robertson's campaign is Joel Solomon. According to the Vancouver Sun's Donor Database, Solomon's company, Renewal Partners, contributed about $70,629 to the mayor's campaign.
Solomon is the vice-chair of Tides Canada Foundation and for at least 10 years, Solomon has also been a director of the U.S.-based Tides Foundation, the parent organization of Tides Canada Foundation. Mike Magee, Mayor Gregor Robertson's Chief of Staff, has been an advisor to Tides Canada Foundation since 2005. (See Tides Canada's 2005 Annual Report, page 8).
According to Strategic Communications Inc., it is one of the major clients of Renewal Partners, Solomon's company. The Vancouver Sun reports that Strategic Communications Inc. was also a major source of campaign financing for Mayor Robertson's campaign. In fact, Strategic Communications contributed $83,314. Thus, two organizations close to Tides Canada Foundation contributed about $153,000 to the mayor's campaign. Obviously the folks at the leadership of Tides Canada have quite an interest in Vancouver politics. My calculations suggest that a handful of huge U.S. foundations have granted at least to $US 43.7 Million to Tides Canada Foundation. For quite some time, I've been asking Tides Canada about how it re-grants U.S. funds to B.C. organizations. So far, no answers. (See also: To whom was $US 43.7 Million re-granted?)
The "Big Four" U.S. foundations that have granted $US 43.7 Million to Tides Canada have about $US 21 BILLION in assets and grant about $US 1.2 BILLION each year. These folks have deep pockets.
Tides Foundation, the U.S. "sister" of Tides Canada, has been criticized for obscuring the origins of its funds. "In practice, Tides behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise, taking money from other foundations and spending it as the donor requires," writes the U.S. Center for Consumer Freedom. "Called 'donor-advised giving,' this pass-through funding vehicle provides public-relations insulation for the money's original donors. By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public."
According to the U.S. Center for Consumer Freedom, the Tides Foundation was created primarily by the Pew Charitable Trusts ("Pew") which originated from the wealth of the heirs of Sun Oil Co. Between the mid 1990s and 2005, Pew granted $US 140 Million to the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center, says the U.S. Center.
One of the projects that has been funded by Pew is Alexandra Morton's campaign against salmon farming. This was funded as part of Pew's program for Salmon Aquaculture "Reform." In fact, the press release for Morton's Get Out Migration protest was issued out of Sointula, B.C. but the phone number given was for Pew in Washington, D.C.. Scaring consumers away from farmed salmon helps to prop up the market for "wild" salmon, most of which is Alaskan. Since the campaign against farmed salmon, the value of Alaskan salmon has TRIPLED. This has been really helpful in Alaska where the fishermen are the largest block of votes. Not only the livelihood and the lifestyle of fishermen depends on market demand for wild fish, the economic and political stability of Alaska does too.
As it appears to me, one of the biggest contributors to Tides Canada Foundation is the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation ("Hewlett"). Hewlett is huge. As of 2008, the Hewlett foundation had about $US 6.3 BILLION in assets, down from $US 9.3 Billion the year before. Since 1999, Hewlett has given away about $US 2.4 Billion. In 2009, the average Hewlett grant was about $400,000.
Canada has been the recipient of more Hewlett funds than to any other country except the U.S. While Hewlett granted $65.2 Million to Canadian organizations (some of which was re-granted for international work), $12.2 Million was granted to South Africa, $10 Million to India, $2.5 Million to Uganda, and $905,000 to China. Of all the countries in the world that could benefit from Hewlett's financial resources and expertise, why spend so much in Canada compared to other places that are far more needy?
According to my calculations, Hewlett grants for work in British Columbia total $US 20.3 Million. Of that, about $7.1 Million was to "reform" the development of oil and gas resources. In comparison, the amount that Hewlett granted "for civil society to participate in developing a transparent system for managing Ghana's oil wealth," was $US 120,000.
As far as I can tell, Hewlett began to "address" the development of oil and gas resources in British Columbia, in 2004. That year, Hewlett made a grant for $US70,000 to Tides Canada for developing “a strategic plan.” In 2005, Hewlett granted $US 250,000 for the creation of a small grants by Tides Canada. This enables Tides Canada to re-grant U.S. funds to B.C. organizations in the name of Tides Canada.
In 2007, Hewlett granted $US 1.5 Million to Tides Canada Foundation "for the Oil and Gas Fund project." The same year, Hewlett also granted $US125,000 to Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defense Fund), "for reducing the environmental impacts of oil and gas development in Northern Canada." In 2008, Ecojustice got $US 150,000 for the same thing.
In 2008, Hewlett granted $US 3 Million to Tides Canada "for reducing the environmental impacts of oil and gas development in Northern Canada." And in 2009, Hewlett granted a further $US 2 Million. However, this was granted through Tides Foundation (USA), not through Tides Canada Foundation. Hewlett also granted $US 50,000 for Tides Canada “to develop a business plan for the organization.”
Hewlett also granted at least $US 7 Million to the Natural Resources Defense Council - which Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Chief of Staff, Michael Magee, visited in April of 2010.
So, lets review: Joel Solomon, one of the biggest election campaign financiers of Vancouver's Mayor, is simultaneously a long-time director of the Tides Foundation, a deep-pocketed American organization that has received at least $US 140 Million from the Pew Charitable Trusts, another huge American foundation created with funds from U.S. oil interests. And Tides Canada Foundation - of which Solomon is the Vice-Chair, has been paid at least $US 7 Million to "address" Canada's oil and gas.
Considering Solomon's substantial election donations to Vancouver's Mayor, one would hope that Tides Canada would be fully transparent about the organizations to whom Tides Canada has re-granted $US 43.7 Million from U.S. sources.
- post by Vivian Krause. A detail that Krause didn't mention is that Gregor Robertson was on the Board of Directors for the Tides Canada Foundation before entering politics as an NDP MLA. For more graphs and scanned documents see the original post at Fair-Questions.com. Krause's supplemental posts to this article are also posted on her blog: