Gregor Robertson & charity funding questions make national front page news

Post by Mike Klassen in

50 comments

bugs-backstopSolomon 2IC Martha Burton is both charity exec, consultant, donor & party treasurer

Today's front page of the Canada's National Post newspaper features the headline Tides Have Turned: A left-wing U.S. charity's plan for change in B.C., and a 2-page 3000 word feature story about questions raised over the past year here on CityCaucus.com, and by researcher Vivian Krause.

It is recommended reading for all who follow municipal politics here.

Writer Kevin Libin describes the highly unique mix of American funding that is pouring into our province to support political activism, and the party in power at Vancouver City Hall. Most troubling of all is the questions of whether charitable funding is being used for political purposes.

Charity fraud is a very serious crime, and one that costs Canadian coffers billions. Revenue Canada has recently made it a mission to crack down on this kind of abuse. Even Vision Vancouver board member David Eaves has waxed openly about this subject. He says that Canada is losing $3.2 billion per year through bogus charities.

Having someone like Eaves on their board means that Vision Vancouver should understand that the abuse of funds meant for charity is a big problem. Neither Mayor Robertson, his chief of staff Mike Magee, Joel Solomon or Vision treasurer Martha Burton would respond to multiple requests for interviews by the National Post. However, it should be incumbent upon Robertson to clearly state that neither he nor Vision Vancouver have been funded indirectly by US-based charities.

Despite the lack of cooperation by the Hollyhock mafia, the feature quotes a number of people, including myself, on what appears to be happening with the money behind Vision Vancouver. I used a colourful analogy to help explain what is happening in the case of Endswell Foundation exec/Renewal Parters exec/Interdependent Investments director/Vision treasurer Martha Burton:

"In the case of Martha Burton, the person at the other end with the catcher's mitt is the same person who's giving the money," he says. "It's like a Bugs Bunny cartoon where she throws the pitch and then she's at the other end catching the ball. How does that work?"

All those hours watching Looney Tunes cartoons at least provided me with an amusing analogy.

50 Comments

It is good to have a public discussion of this, so thank you. I am largely in sympathy with Hollyhock and Tides vision of the future, and having read through the links and the NP story I don't really have a problem. I would rather have politicians supported by progressive and successful business people than by the likes of the Fraser Institute, the local real-estate developement industry, or the old VSE crowd. In your opinion, are current municipal disclosure laws strong enough and are they followed?

There's quite a few differences.

First off, The Fraser Institute doesn't donate to politicians nor engage in lobbying.

Second, the "local real-estate development industry" and "the old VSE crowd" are Canadian citizens who are legally entitled to back whatever politicians and issues they want. There's also full disclosure on who they donate to.

What we see here is an American "charity" intentionally financing political groups and candidates in a foreign country. In Canada, that's a crime, as it destabilizes our democracy and undermines the interests of its citizens.

If a foreign entity tried to finance a candidate for congress in your home state of Massachusetts, for example, that candidate would be forced to return the cash, and the people who donated it would be charged with a crime. No different here.

The Thought of The Day

“So, let me deep think here for a moment. He’s from the South, but he now lives in the North. Little people dressed in Happy Green suits are working for him up there. His family name starts with the letter ‘S’, and his favourite colour is ‘Reds’. He thinks highly of himself, somewhat of a prophet or a spreader of gifts to us peasants, or somethin’. Hey, it must be Santa!”

But enough about little Joel... It is clear enough to anyone who’s not an idiot that this Solomon guy and his American friends are on the wrong side of the fence, in the wrong city, province and country. Public apathy, political corruption and bureaucratic red tape are the cause for all this, they are only the side effects.


If you didn't know by now those side effects can be as or even more harmful. Just let me be the first one to point out the ‘POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS’ crime scene tape that circles our dear Vancouver city for the past two years and counting.

Anyway.

Let’s end on a happier note here, with the newest rendition of the Christmas jingle

‘SANTA’s CON MEN ARE COMIN’ TO TOWN’

“You better watch out
You better not cry
Better put out
I'm telling you why
Santa’s Con Men are coming to town

They’ve already have
Your name on,
Their media Hit List
And checked it twice;
Gonna find out Who's Naughty
And Who’s Vision Nice
Santa Con Men are coming to town

He sees you when you're sleeping
Surveillance is dirt cheap
He knows when you're awake
Your Santa is a creep.
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better put out
I'm telling you why
Santa’s Con Men are already in town

Santa’s Con Men are already in town.”

...

Oh, look it's 'snowing'.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

@Steven: Those "progressive and successful business people" (in fact they inherited it successfully) paid for the campaign of a bunch of Visionaries who just lost close to $250 MILLION (and possibly much more)of my money and yours dabbling in a business about which they know nothing. They used to have a lot of employees who knew everything about it, but they were all fired or left. The only experience any of the current Councillors have in the real estate business is a lifetime of paying rent to people smarter than they are.

I guess we can kiss goodbye to that big raise the civic unions were counting on. That money and a whole lot more just "progressed" away from the needs of Vancouver's citizens and into the vaults of a bank that saw this bunch coming a mile off and had the stewpot ready.

Explain how this is "sustainable", or "open and transparent" or how many homeless people it gets off the streets or accomplishes any of the other bullshit they said they believed during their American-financed campaign.

If you were able to lift your gaze out of that symapthetic navel you're looking at you might have something more substantive to offer.

BTW, the old VSE crowd is still around and riding their Harleys. Careful what you say about them.

If the situation was reversed, if rich Americans & the NRA was funding a right wing Party, the local progressives would have mobs in the street, howling in outrage, violating everyone's civil rights and screaming at the media to protect our national and civic interests.

When rich greenie socialist Americans fund our local herd of Leftoids . . no problem.

Sad situation when our civic government can be bought up for some charitable donations and very dodgy tax credit tap dancing.

Very troubling.

Glissy,
I am telling you man, you just got the best Jingle in town. Just in time for Christmas. LOL
‘SANTA’s CON MEN ARE COMIN’ TO TOWN’ it's going to top the charts...
OK then.

Steven Forth
Nice try, buddy boy, to clean Vision's image and separate them from Hollyhock and Tides and who knows how many other 'off-shores'. You people are something.
I'm sure you can spell VISION, but can you spell EMBEZZLEMENT, CRONYISM, NEPOTISM as well?

Reality Check; Sally Forth; Vision Insider.
What they said.

I honestly did not approve of Sammy Sully and his shenanigans, but I have to give it to him, compared to these guys, he was a Pro. I also like to thank James Green, the 2005 candidate,without whom we could have probably stepped into this shit long time ago,having Jim Green as shepherd.
Now that sounds depressing, man. depressed.

@ fred: "if rich Americans & the NRA was funding a right wing Party". They are. Its called the Conservative Party of Canada.
Need to secure your petroleum supplies? Make sure the oil sands goes ahead no matter what. Looks like the makers of gas-guzzlers might go broke? Get your puppet government to give them $10 Billion to keep making cars nobody wants. Trying to build a pipeline to carry hydrocarbons from the Stans to the Gulf? Get Canada and NATO to throw away as many lives and tax dollars as it takes to keep it safe.
The Rockefeller family invented this game and we're all still playing it.
What difference does it make if the Americans who own Canada are environmentalists or planet-rapers? They're still American.

To me, the most important paragraph of the entire article was this one:

"As [former prime minister] Paul Martin put it, money is the mother's milk of all politics," says Duff Conacher, director at the Ottawa-based Democracy Watch. "At every level of government foreign donations should be illegal," and usually are. Donations should come only from citizens with a direct stake in the jurisdiction, should be disclosed before voting day, and "you want to have a low donation limit," he says, so that the wealthy cannot influence politics any more than the average citizen (donations to municipal campaigns, without tax deductibility, are even less affordable)."

I don't care which end of the political spectrum you're on, or whether you love the current mayors vision for the future or not, you should be VERY concerned when foreign individuals are funding and influencing OUR politics and politicians.

We have "national" interests, that often don't coincide with the U.S. If we allow wealthy individuals in the U.S. to fund and "drive" our policies we lose our independence.

Completely agree. No out of Vancouver donations to Vancouver campaigns. No out of BC donations to BC campaigns. No out of Canada contributions to Federal campaigns. But what do we do about organizaitons like the Fraser Institute, forieng funded that try to influence local policy? Or all of the oil money that sloshes over us? Should Alberta organizations be allowed to influence BC policy? I think the best first step is that all bloggers, non-profits, commenters declare how they are funded and what their affiliations are.

"...all bloggers, non-profits, commenters declare how they are funded and what their affiliations are".

You first.

The only people who have a problem with the Fraser Institute (who make no secret of their funding sources) is the BCTF. The kind of people who think "progressive" means they went to a resort in Cuba during one of the 15 weeks off they get every year.

For those who care,
1. Live in Vancouver, happen to run a company in Cambridge MA.
2. Lived in Vancouver 1988 to 2006 and moved back late 2009 after a stint in Boston.
3. Have not donated to any Vancouver party and the only person I know personally is Peter Ladner.
4. Would like to see more transparency from everyone involved, including the people who comment on this blog and who write it. I would like to see the NPA and COPE have their financing investigated as well.
I think this post raises important questions but I would be very surprized if Vision is the only party playing these games.

I would also like to see unions be curtailed on how much they can donate.

"are current municipal disclosure laws strong enough and are they followed?"

Yes and yes, although a truly transparent policy would involve posting all donations of any size or kind and their sources as soon as they are received. The first party to adopt such a policy will enjoy an advantage over those who do not.

The fact that civic parties must divulge donations is the reason we know the connections between Tides and Vision (that and the research skills of Vivian Krause).

COPE and NPA also reported and neither of them accepted any funds from foreign "charities" or individuals. Maybe in the old days COPE could bill the Kremlin for placard expenses or bull-horn rental, but that was then. Nowadays its whatever crumbs Vision lets fall from the Union banquet table.

The unprecedented remarks by the head of CSIS concerning the influence of foreign countries on BC municipal and provincial politicians are more likely to refer to Tides rather than China. But either way foreign money has no place in Vancouver politics and will spell the end of Vision no matter how many bike lanes they build.

These people make the Nanaimo Commonwealth Holding scam look like a hillbilly picnic.

So the Vision Progressive's game charities to fund their narrow minded "vision" of what is good for society.

Reminds me of the Provincial NDP stealing bingo money from seniors to fund their socialist utopian dreams.

Vision is on very, very, thin ice with these activities . . . it may not be illegal but the immorality of scamming charities is huge.

The stench coming out of city hall is getting very strong. Rotting progressive, narrow minded, bigoted ideas come from rotten, narrow minded bigoted people.

Look in the mirror Visionistas . . . and hold your nose so do you don't gag.

I find it difficult to take seriously any organization that talks about 500 year plans but then again perhaps they were referring to their marketing plans for the Olympic Village condos.

@ Julia. Slippery slope there, IMHO. Best to set spending caps, which means business, labour and others are held to limits.

I breathlessly await to hear Allen Garr and Frances Bula's take on this. I'm sure they are huddled in a Commercial St cafe trying to figure out how to spin vision out of this one. I hope other reporters keep digging into this. Where there is smoke, there is usually fire. Kudo to National Post for this.

@Gertrude. To be fair, neither have particularly interested in the money trail behind Vision Vancouver, so don't expect them to start now. Given that Garr is a director at Vancity, and Vancity has many direct links to Tides Canada, it is highly likely that any public statement Allen would make would be in a conflict of interest.

Of course, it's just a little hypocritical of Allen, given how much he liked to bash Sullivan about his donors http://bit.ly/asHP5r

Frances to my knowledge has yet to discuss this subject, but she has profiled Robertson, Magee & Solomon for Vancouver Magazine.

Couldn't agree with you more.

Mike, I would support a cap but we really need to start looking at which tails are wagging the dog.

How can any elected party enter contract negotiations with a group of people waving a very large cheque book.

Word!

"I find it difficult to take seriously any organization that talks about 500 year plans"

A twenty-year old with regular RRSP contributions and a will would probably be considered an astute individual for having what it in essence a 60-80 year plan. I'm not sure why an organization shouldn't be taken seriously for having a long-range vision. It's certainly worked reasonably well with things like the American Constitution, Britains's Magna Carta, etc.

"Begin with the end in mind."

Supposedly a central tenet of highly effective people.

These types of issues are a recurring theme of hypocrisy for the left.

By believing that their principles are more morally just than others, they seem to believes that the ends justify the means. Ironic to say the least.

The bottom line is that if US right wing forces were funding political goals, the left would be up in arms crying about the injustice and infringement on national sovereingty

Yet when they do it, the defense is somewhere along the lines of "what's good for the goose..." or the more absurd suggestion that they hold some sort of moral highground, going as far as suggesting that the world as we know it will die. It pulpit rhetoric. They are religion-like views spewed under a veil of being political, instead of the theology that they deny it to be.

Those are not principles. Those are the definitions of hypocrisy.

It's not a debate if one side thinks they know what's best for everyone else based on Green Theology.

Long Range vision? ROTFL, do you really think the Constitution and Magna Carta were written with a 500 year plan in mind, or did they just luck out! Trudeau championed a Charter that is full of holes 30 years later. To put Gregor and friends in the same category as the authors of any of these documents is outrageous.

Perhaps you should ask the British or French or Roman Empire what happened to their 500 year plan while you are at it.

Sure, we should have a beer and plan the next century or so, just like they do on Star Trek,better yet, why not just start up a game of SimCity...but for civic officials to openly say they are planning beyond the life cycle of that 20 years old's RRSP is insanity.

And for you to actually defend it - there are no words.

I don't think I've ever read someone using ancient Rome an argument against long-range planning before. Many of its core values and rules remain with us to this day and I imagine the goals and principles of the American Constitution will probably outlive the 250 year old country itself.

First lines of the Magna Carta:

1. FIRST, We have granted to God, and by this our present Charter have confirmed, for Us and our Heirs for ever, that the Church of England shall be free, and shall have all her whole Rights and Liberties inviolable. We have granted also, and given to all the Freemen of our Realm, for Us and our Heirs for ever, these Liberties under-written, to have and to hold to them and their Heirs, of Us and our Heirs for ever.

Wow. "For ever." I guess 500 years is a bit short-sighted.

You forgot several other would-be "empires". Omitting the Reich is understandable but, in this century alone we have USA, Japan and Russia as outstanding examples of failed dreams of world domination.

Anybody who tells you politicians think beyond the next election cycle is kidding themselves and trying to hood-wink you. Politicians only think of one thing and it's not your best interests or how to alleviate the suffering of the poor or anything else except re-election and qualifying for that gold-plated pension.

I doubt that even Kiss Cream thinks politicians have principles. If he does, he hasn't been paying attention, or paying politicians. Once you have paid one they all look pretty pathetic. For the right price they'll say or do whatever you want, same as everyone else. Just ask Joel.

Do you think Rome ever PLANNED to fall? Do you think Britain ever planned for its colonies to want to be independent? Do you think the those who had slave ever thought things would change? All great 500 year plans - don't you think?

Sure, history can look fondly on the forward thinking of a text, but for every moment of inspiration, you will find 100 that were simply delusional.

And again, are you really putting Gregor and his merry band of wingnuts in the same league as these people you wish to quote?

"Many of its (ancient Rome's) core values and rules remain with us to this day".

The Pope told me the exact same thing just the other day. He was asking me about condoms. I pointed out that the Vatican hires a hell of a lot of male prostitutes and they should be required to wear them on the job. I guess he was listening.

an infiltration of values is light years away from a 500 year PLAN. Values stick because they remain valid and logical. So your condom illustration is perfect. Sometimes PLANS change.

Ah yes, let's look at another example.

Planet Uranus. Indeed it's a planet, just like Earth.

But just because it's a planet doesn't mean it's a habitable place from which you can make absurd statements of moral equivalency from afar. Best not to.

The 500 year vision is just a sales job for the investors of papa Joel's vision of becoming a billionaire swishing other people's money from one place to another. Profit making is the bottom line and acquiring vast tracks of prime real estate and forest land. Doesn't he have a realtor's licence? The Hollyhock mafia were busy cleaning the shelves of the National Post in Campbell River on Saturday. One store said a single person came in and bought them all... There needs to be a federal forensic audit on everything to do with the bogus charities of Solomon and Newell.

"but for civic officials to openly say they are planning beyond the life cycle of that 20 years old's RRSP is insanity."

You think it's insane for government to plan longer than 20 years? You are what's wrong with politics. You are the government we deserve and sadly get.

boohoo:

Actually it's a 60-80 year plan (20 years old to retirement and then what happens after death) but the kneejerk reaction to all things Vision unfortunately clouds the situation so much that important, relevant contributions such as that provided by Cortes Islander get lost in the shouting.

So these folks, imbued with eco-social justice fervor and possessing fat bank accounts that somebody gave them, these good people that believe they are smarter than ordinary folks, know what is better for society than ordinary folks and have no qualms astroturfing “protest” think they are winning by spending tens of millions of dollars to sway public opinion.

Look what happened on the weekend . . the 350.org group, one of the most heavily backed and promoted Greenie groups (aka Eco-Jihadis) staged a Global Warming protest in David Lam park as part of the public relations lead up to the COP 16 meetings in Cancun next week and the best they could do is get maybe a hundred people to come out and have their picture taken from a satellite.

100+ people in Vancouver, the spiritual ground zero of the Eco movement in Canada, with snowball throwing distance of David Suzuki ( aka Dr. Fruit Fly) Green fund raising industry HQ and around the corner from Carol Newell’s house - she’s the biggest donor and moneybags for Renewal Partner/Tides Canada et al and they get a pitifully small, bedraggled, scraggly rump of losers, dreamers, eco riff-raff and other assorted eco justice dreamers & schemers to come out for such a critical rally to Save the planet and bow at the altar of Al Gore’s Church of Global Warming.

These narrow minded, but rich, Americans think they are so much smarter and better than us hick Canadians that all they have to do blow millions of dollars on fantasy protests and they can get away with imposing their vision of what our future should be.

They are as dumb as they are rich, as ignorant as they are scientifically illiterate, as impressed with their own self righteousness as we are unimpressed with their schemes, scams and scum level faux protest movements.

The exposure they are getting on this site & via Vivian’s research needs to get much more publicity.

Keep up the great work and we will get rid of them before they can cause any more damage to the fabric of our society.


Don't be too quick to minimize the risk from the Progressives. Much has been written about how big oil spending was behind Proposition 23 in California and much less written how environmental groups outspent big oil by a margin of 3 to 1 to defeat the measure. As a first step we need to reform election spending in local elections.

as a citizen and taxpayer, I really want to understand who making decisions for my city - and why. The merits of what is being done or said is not nearly as important as my right to know what is behind the curtain so I can vote accordingly.

You know hollyhockhuckster, you may have valid points, but they just get lost in your ridiculous exaggerations and personal attacks--eco-jihadis? dr. fruit fly?

Is it possible for you to make your point without some childish insult?

Not everyone is blind, Cortes Islander. We can see that too! The thing is, phony journalists like Frances Bula, Allen Garr and even Jeff Lee (from THREE different rugs in Vancouver) are with their blinders on... What would make them start doing some investigative journalism?

Glissando,
Perhaps you wanted to write ‘SOLOMON’s CON MEN ARE COMIN’ TO TOWN’ LMAO!!!
At least Santa BRINGS us gifts, he doesn't POCKET them!
And BTW I think he is more into Hanukkah, so no Christmas there...

As a total off topic aside, I see that Chris Keam and Richard can no longer make the claim that no pedestrians have been killed by cyclists.

The VPD has issued a news release saying a pedestrian has died after being hit by a cyclist last week. Looking for witnesses.

Jeff Lee is too busy trying to be "balanced" in order to be "fair" to vision. Therefore, don't expect a lot of digging or investigative journalism for fear that he offends Gregor and co. Where did our old Jeff go? We loved him at city hall. Sad :-(

Jeff is on holidays - still has Olympic overtime to use up.

MSM have editors and lawyers trying to make sure nobody gets sued. Bloggers seem to have a much higher risk threshold.

If someone like Jeff breaks a story, you can be sure he is not blowing smoke.

Disagree about Jeff. I'm very pleased that the Sun has a full-time journo back covering City Hall. He's broken good stories like the empty City Hall piece and I'm sure that many good pieces will follow as we get into the election cycle.

Julia, it appears that curtain just got a bit thicker as Frances Bula just posted on her blog that there's a new rule at city hall now where staff are no longer allowed to speak directly to media.

They will now be referred to the politicians on everything.

Kudos to Vision on this monumental 'Not-My-Department' achievement. If you're in the media and you call any city staff, "Sorry, not my department"

I believe this even surpasses Environment Canada's muzzling of their scientists by the Conservatives. Way to shoot yourself in the foot Vision. Well done. :-)

"There needs to be a federal forensic audit on everything to do with the bogus charities of Solomon and Newell."

How does one make a living on Cortes? Maybe there needs to be a federal forensic audit on everything to do with Cortes Island in general.

Sound good to me Hernando. Why not expand it to all of Vancouver Thats where they actually live full time. Cortes is just their summer toilet.

Forestry and Aquaculture are the primariy employers here.

Very few on Cortes are part of the Solomon, Newall scam or bogus vision.

OK, we’ve all had a good laugh.

By forestry, are you talking about Cortes Ecoforestry Society, who’s motto should be “20 years without cutting a tree”? Or the few logs that have been lying at the fire hall for so long that they are now advertised for sale as firewood? Mac Blo would have loved to know how to make so much money from so little trees. You can count the number of foresters on the fingers of one hand.

And by aquaculture, do you mean all the aquaculture protests against the tenures in the Gorge, or just the protests about any aquaculture in general? There are a few people employed by the mussel farm in Gorge Harbour. Most of the active shellfish tenures are farmed by persons who live off island. By all appearances, most of those operated by Cortesians wouldn’t buy the weekly groceries. Is there even enough shellfish on the truck to pay for the ferry and fuel? And there are only two or three wild salmon fishermen on Cortes and not many commercial salmon openings anyways.

Of the non-Native residents, some people work in construction, a few people work at the stores and a couple of people drive trucks. That leaves what, the better part of a thousand non-Native residents more or less. People that protest forestry on Cortes. People that protest aquaculture on Cortes. People that protest Canadian industry across BC and now in Alberta. People that can afford to keep a house on Cortes AND a place to stay in Campbell River. People who can send their kids to schools in Victoria or further places, and vacation in exotic locations around the world.

So, how does one make a living on Cortes? Who’s your daddy?

I sit in the political Left. But am deeply perplexed that foriegn money seems to be large amounts of domestic policy. Its not just Tides and Vision, its also PNCIMA. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation are funding DFO and many enviro groups to the tune of $9 Million. This to shape policy on our mid coast.

These same folks are interested in pipeline oil straight into America.

Whats really going on? This isn't all peace, dope and nirvana!

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