Gregor campaigning with Carole James 18 months before dumping the NDP
Update December 10th ***PLEASE NOTE: Tides Canada is a legally distinct entity from the Tides Foundation (US). The lawyer for Tides Canada has stated in a letter, "no funds or support whatsoever have been given by Tides Canada to any political party or candidate for public office."
CityCaucus.com welcomes back Vivian Krause, a North Vancouver resident, mom, and one of Canada's leading experts on the financing of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) in our country. What follows is a highly detailed inquiry made of Mayor Gregor Robertson regarding the financing of his election campaigns as an NDP MLA. It is based upon publicly available data through Elections BC, City of Vancouver Clerks office, Revenue Canada and the US Internal Revenue Service.
Vivian's research on the Tides Canada Foundation began in 2007. We first met her last May through a mutual acquaintance, and like many we've been amazed by the depth of her research. Her website fair-questions.com has proven to be a wealth of information for many local and national media, including the Georgia Straight, Vancouver Courier (see Mark Hasiuk's excellent piece from yesterday), Vancouver Sun and National Post.
Vivian has been labeled a Republican, a right-winger, an oil company or fish farm industry shill, and a Conservative hack by her critics. But none of them really know Vivian's true tale as a worker for UNICEF in desperately poor communities in the developing world, and in Canada. Vivian's work is self-financed, and done at some considerable personal sacrifice.
This letter below was sent to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson on 26 November 2010. Charlie Smith reported this in Georgia Straight. For the response from City Hall, please click here. For Vivian's correspondence with Martha Burton, the treasurer of Vision Vancouver, back in September, please click here. And now Vivian's letter to Gregor...
As you know from my open letter of 9 November 2010, and other letters since July, I have written to you to inquire as to whether $153,783 of Vision Vancouver campaign funding may have originated from the Endswell Foundation, a registered charity affiliated with Tides Canada. The immediate sources of that funding are Strategic Communications ($83,314) and Renewal Partners ($70,469).
Strategic Communications says at its web-site that it is a "partner" of Renewal Partners. As you know, I am concerned as to how $11.4 million may have been spent since 2003 while the Endswell Foundation was simply making 99 percent of its grants to Tides Canada. That $11.4 million includes $1.9 million that Endswell paid to staff at Renewal Partners, according to U.S. tax returns. The $11.4 million also includes $1.2 million that was paid by the charity to "Interdependent Investments Ltd.," of which the officers are listed as Joel Solomon and Martha Burton, the treasurer of Vision Vancouver.
Recently, I took a look at the database of Elections B.C. and was surprised to see that not only Strategic Communications contributed $83,314 to Vision Vancouver, Strategic Communications also contributed $33,890 to the NDP. That's a total of $117,204. For a small company, that seems like a lot of money.
From the disclosure statements that you filed in 2005, and re-filed in 2007, it seems to me that a large part of the funding that Strategic Communications contributed to the NDP may have gone specifically to your MLA campaign in the Vancouver Fairview riding.
If I have read your campaign finance disclosure statements correctly, it seems to me that your campaign reported a total income of $138,528. Of that, according to my analysis, at least $72,438 was from sources who are affiliated in various ways with Tides Canada and/or Tides USA. Including $10,000 from yourself and your wife, Amy, that accounts for 40 percent of your NDP campaign finance. Of that, the total that came from two P.R. companies (Strategic Communications & Convergence Communications) that are closely affiliated with Tides Canada, was $49,172. Is this correct?
The reason that I have included you and your wife as affiliates of Tides is because from 2000 to 2005, your wife was the president of the Linnaea Farm Society (on Cortes Island) which has been funded by both Tides Canada (every year since 2003, that's as far back as on-line records go) and Tides U.S.A. According to your profile that was posted at the web-site of Tides Canada, you also worked with the Linnaea Farm Society from 2002 to 2004. Tides Canada also reports that you worked with the Wild Salmon Fund which is heavily funded by U.S. foundations.
According to my calculations, the $72,438, includes:
- $28,529 from Strategic Communications.
- $20,641 from Convergence Communications. U.S. tax returns indicate that Tides Canada paid $204,036 to Convergence Communications in 2003 and 2005. (The information about how much Tides Canada paid to its highest five-paid contractors is not included in the publicly available tax return for 2004). The B.C. company summary for Convergence Communications indicates that its sole officer is Michael Magee, your Chief of Staff. I note that he was a sr. advisor of Tides Canada from 2002 to 2007.
- $6,000 from Carol Newell. When Ms. Newell was awarded the Order of Canada for having "placed" $60 million, Tides Canada reported that she is the "founder" of Tides Canada. U.S. tax returns show that since 2004, Ms. Newell has contributed $1.1 million to the Endswell Foundation. To my surprise, the 2009 tax return for the Endswell Foundation reports that a person by the name of Carol Newell was paid $49,921 as "secretary." That same year, Carol Newell contributed $73,206, U.S. tax returns say.
- $6,327 from Andrew Beath. Mr. Beath is said to be the "founder" of the Earthways Foundation which has received a small amount of funding from Tides U.S.A.
- $680 from Renewal Partners
- $259 from Mark Deutschmann, the CEO of Village Real Estate of Nashville Tennessee, a company in which Renewal Partners has "invested." U.S. tax returns say that Joel Solomon has 10 percent ownership in Village Real Estate.
Having taken a look at your disclosure statement for 2005, I would like to ask several questions:
- A company named "Poser Productions" is reported as having made a campaign finance contribution of $4,614.60. Which company is that? Is that Poser Lounge Productions? I couldn't find any information about a company by the name of "Poser Productions."
- Three contributions for a total of $10,500 (or $11,500, its hard to read the hand-writing) were made from the Vancouver Fairview Constituency Association. Where did those funds originate? Did any of those funds originate from Strategic Communications? If so, then the total amount of campaign finance that your N.D.P. campaign received from Tides Canada-affiliated P.R. companies would be $59,672, not $49,172.
- I notice that according to your disclosure statements for 2005 - 2007, Joel Solomon did not financially support your N.D.P. campaign - not one cent, or did he? Why did Joel Solomon financially support your campaign to become Mayor of Vancouver but not your campaign to become an M.L.A.? Or did Joel Solomon support your N.D.P. campaign through Strategic Communications?
I would also like to ask several related questions about:
1) Tides Canada's "Strategic Plan to Address Oil & Gas Development in B.C."
In 2004, the California-based William & Flora Hewlett Foundation paid Tides Canada $70,000 to develop a "strategic plan" to address oil and gas development in British Columbia. At the time, you were a director of Tides Canada. Since then, Hewlett has granted a further $12.3 Million for various projects to "address" the oil and gas industry in Canada. Of that, about $7.2 million went to Tides US, and nearly $2 million was granted to Tides Canada.
My questions are:
- What did Tides Canada's "strategic plan" involve, back in 2004?
- Did the "strategic plan" involve thwarting oil exports to Asia by blocking oil tanker traffic on the B.C. coast - all in the name of marine conservation?
- Did the "strategic plan" involve Tides Canada OR Tides USA funding a large number of organizations - as reported recently in the Financial Post and the Vancouver Sun - to campaign against Alberta oil?
- Did the "strategic plan" involve making HUGE payments to First Nations, such as the $27.3 Million that Tides Canada quietly paid to two, small First Nations, in 2008?
- Did the "strategic plan" involve the Hewlett foundation massively ramping up its payments to Tides Canada - from $70,000 in 2007 to the tune of $9.2 million since then - all of which was specifically for projects to "reform" the oil and gas industry in Canada?
- Did the "strategic plan" involve supporting a particular political party, or a particular politician?
2) F.D. Element, The Great Bear Rainforest & the Boreal Forest Initiative
Recently, I read Bob Mackin's reporting that taxpayers money has been used to pay FD Element to do your P.R. in New York.
F.D. Element works for a number of clients, including Coca-Cola, Burger King, and the David Suzuki Foundation. F.D. Element also does P.R. for the Great Bear Rainforest Initiative and for the Boreal Forest Initiative. As part of the $83 million that the Hewlett foundation and the Packard foundation have spent in British Columbia and Alberta, these two U.S. foundations have spent more than $41 million specifically on the Great Bear Rainforest and the Boreal Forest Initiative. These initiatives date back to your time at Tides Canada. Another U.S. foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts kicked in at least $44 million for the Boreal Forest Initiative and the Moore foundation, also based in California, has paid $18 million towards the PNCIMA Initiative. That's a total of $103 million ($41 million, $44 million and $18 million) from these three U.S. foundations specifically for those three initiatives alone.
My questions are:
- Of all the places in the world, why are these U.S. foundations spending so much in Canada? Why not Africa or Asia? Why have U.S. foundations supported aboriginal people in British Columbia - to the tune of more than $50 million - rather than in the U.S. or any other country?
- Are these initiatives exclusively to protect the environment? Or are these U.S. initiatives also partially to block Canadian oil exports to Asia - all in the name of marine conservation?
- When FD Element does P.R. for you, is that strictly to promote Vancouver - or is this P.R. work also sort of 'part-and-parcel' of these U.S.-funded "conservation" initiatives?
3) Three Anonymous Grants to Tides U.S.A. for $72 Million
In 2001 and 2002, Tides U.S.A. received three large contributions for a total of $72 million. Since then, the publicly available versions of the U.S. tax returns of the Tides Foundation do not include the "Schedule B" which discloses large contributions. Given your obvious connections to Tides Canada and Tides U.S.A., would you please encourage the Tides Foundation to disclose the origin of large contributions such as these?
4) Joel Solomon's "Creating Conditions" Over Nearly 20 Years
In May of this year, Joel Solomon told the Huffington Post, "Most recently, we've been working with others on Vision Vancouver, a new political party. Mayor Gregor Robertson had a landslide victory - just days after Obama's win - on a progressive platform: greenest city in the world, end homelessness, a creative and entrepreneurial economy. The election of Mayor Robertson is the result of creating conditions where these things could take hold. Nearly 20 years of moving in a purposeful direction."
My question is this: What exactly did Tides Canada do in terms of "creating conditions" over nearly 20 years? And why did Joel Solomon financially support Gregor Robertson's campaign to become Mayor of Vancouver but not his campaign to become an N.D.P. member of the provincial legislature of B.C. - or did he? Did Joel Solomon support Gregor Robertson's N.D.P. campaign through a donation of $28,529 or (or $39,029) by Strategic Communications?
Note: Gregor Robertson's finance disclosure statement included donations for $10,500 (or $11,500, its hard to read the handwriting) from the Vancouver Fairview Constituency Association. Its not clear to me where those funds originated.
5) City of Vancouver Contracts Awarded to Vision Vancouver Campaign Funders
I noticed recently that the City of Vancouver is listed as a client of Communicopia, a P.R. company that contributed $17,880 in campaign finance to Vision Vancouver. The logo of the City of Vancouver is on the home-page of the web-site of this company. U.S. tax returns show that Communicopia has been paid at least $12,000 by Tides Canada (through the Endswell Foundation), and has also been funded by Renewal Partners.
My questions are:
- Has the City of Vancouver already paid money to this company? It so, how much taxpayers' money has gone to this Tides Canada-affiliated P.R. company - which heavily supports Vision Vancouver?
- More broadly, what is your policy with regards to granting contracts to P.R. companies that support your particular political party?
I would appreciate your response.
Excerpts from U.S. tax returns of Tides Canada Foundation showing payments to Convergence Communications:
Note: In the 2004 return, this table is not included.
Excerpts from the campaign finance disclosure statements of the NDP Vancouver Fairview Constituency Association:
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- post by Vivian Krause.
For those who have been following the debate about the shipping of oil and gas off the BC coast (and Gregor Robertson's own schemes to prevent it), note that an NDP MP has asked that the government should immediately propose legislation to ban bulk oil tanker traffic in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound as a way to protect the West Coast's unique and diverse ocean ecosystem, to preserve the marine resources which sustain the community and regional economies of British Columbia, and to honour the extensive First Nations rights and title in the area. It is coming to a vote later today in the House of Commons.