Mayor Gregor Robertson says it's "really troubling" to see the Tides Canada Foundation coming under criticism.
In an interview today (November 25) in the mayor's office, Robertson told the Straight that there is a "well-organized campaign to besmirch...the work we're doing at city hall and organizations like Tides, who are doing really important work for the community and the country".
"It's unfortunate to see it get traction in the national media, you know, with no other side of the story being told and not explaining the connections of those who are alleging all of this," Robertson said.
The National Post has published articles about the financial connections between U.S. charitable foundations, the U.S.-based Tides Foundation, and the Tides Canada Foundation.
The Straight also outlined some of the connections in this article
From 2002 to 2005, Robertson was a director of Tides Canada Foundation, which funds numerous environmental organizations. The mayor's chief of staff, Mike Magee, was senior policy adviser for Tides Canada from 2002 to 2007.
A North Vancouver-based researcher, Vivian Krause, has disseminated information to various media outlets, including the Georgia Straight, about how U.S. foundations are bankrolling Tides Canada.
Krause, a former consultant to the fish-farming industry, wrote an article last month in the National Post outling the role that the Tides Foundation and Tides Canada are playing in funding opposition to oilsands projects.
On her website, she has also highlighted how these foundations are funding opposition to fish farming in B.C.
"There are clear connections to the fish-farm industry," Robertson declared. "And my concerns about open-net-cage salmon farming are well-known and shared by people in B.C. You know, there is obvious tension there."
Joel Solomon, a key backer of Robertson's Happy Planet juice company, is a director and former chair of the U.S.-based Tides Foundation and vice-chair of Tides Canada Foundation. Vision Vancouver treasurer Martha Burton, a business associate of Solomon's, is a former director of Tides Canada Foundation.
"It's unfortunate to see ideological witch hunts, obviously for political purposes," Robertson said. "It's really disappointing and kind of muddles all those issues. It demonizes people who are trying to do good things in the world."
The mayor added that he has asked "tough questions" about subsidies to the oil-and-gas industry and about oil-tanker-traffic risks to Vancouver and the B.C. coast.
"There may be concerns from the industry side about that," he added. "There are definitely people resistant to change that ensures we're more environmentally sustainable and socially just."
Meanwhile, NPA councillor Suzanne Anton has told the Straight that she sees two "red flags".
Anton claimed that a "lot of American money" went into Robertson's election campaign. "And why do those Americans want their man in City Hall?" she asked. "All I can do is raise questions. That is a complete mystery to me. They're not citizens of Vancouver. They're not citizens of B.C. They're not even citizens of Canada."
Secondly, Anton said, she wonders about money flowing from registered charities to companies that provide services to these charities. Some of these companies (see below) have contributed money to Vision Vancouver.
Anton emphasized that these political contributions are not illegal, but she claimed that it looks "bad".
"I think that those companies should come clean and I think Vision Vancouver should come clean about the money trail," the NPA politician said.
Meanwhile, Krause has released a chart purporting that $277,204 in political donations to Vision Vancouver in 2008 came from people and organizations with an affiliation to Tides Canada.
The list included donors with ties to an investment company called Renewal Partners and Hollyhock, which is a retreat on Cortes Island chaired by Solomon and managed by his wife Dana Bass Solomon.
In addition, Krause's list includes those with ties to the Endswell Foundation, which was created in the 1990s by Solomon and Carol Newell to advance social change. The Endswell Foundation has been a major financial backer of Tides Canada.
Vivian Krause's chart of 2008 campaign donations to Vision Vancouver linked to Tides Canada, Solmon, Endswell, and Hollyhock:
• Strategic Communications (Renewal Partners client): $83,314
• Renewal Partners: $70,469
• Amy Robertson (wife of Gregor Robertson): $26,450
• Gordon Russell (Tides Canada board member): $22,584
• Communicopia (recipient of Renewal Partners funding): $17,780
• Carol Newell: $15,010
• Convergence Communications (Mike Magee's p.r. company): $10,000
• Joel Solomon: $9,165
• Interdependent Investments Ltd. (consultant to Endswell Foundation): $5,000
• Edwin Levy (Tides Canada board member): $2,960
• Paulette Cole (Hollyhock board member): $2,212
• Drummond Pike (founder of U.S.-based Tides Foundation): $2,000
• Gary Hirschberg (Renewal2 investment adviser): $2,000
• Bob Penner (Strategic Communications president): $1,695
• Martha Burton: $1,050
• Mark Deutschmann (Hollyhock board member): $1,034
• Karen Mahon (Hollyhock board member): $1,016
• Pamela Chalout (Endswell management): $725
• Ross McMillan (Tides Canada president): $500
• James Morrisey (Tides Canada treasurer): $550
• Tzeporah Berman (director Nextwave Foundation): $500
• Mike Magee: $325
• Timothy Draimin (Tides Canada past president): $300
• Paul Richardson (Endswell board member): $250
• Michael Tippett (Hollyhock board member): $115
• Shivon Robinsong and Bill Weaver (Hollyhock board member): $100
• Eduardo Schwartz (Hollyhock board member): $100
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.