Mayor Gregor Robertson claims there's a campaign to "besmirch" Tides Canada Foundation

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      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

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      Nov 25, 2010 at 6:28pm

      <i>They're not citizens of Vancouver. They're not citizens of B.C. They're not even citizens of Canada."</i>

      Er, excuse me if I'm wrong, but isn't Joel Solomon a: long-time resident of B.C.; a Canadian citizen.

      How many hoops does he have to jump through before he becomes a Canadian, and does that mean Suzanne Anton and friends don't feel newly minted Canadians are...fully Canadian?

      As for the rest...why am I supposed to care more about this than the donations that flow from real estate developers? Who, you know, have a certain interest in influencing City Hall.


      Nov 25, 2010 at 7:46pm


      What is this campaign?

      Who is behind it?

      What are their intentions?

      Are their similar campaigns in other places around the world?

      Why must we learn of this by such a campaign and not through public disclosure?

      What purpose does it serve to take such large amounts of money from American Foundations including the Rockefellers?

      What is the interest of these foundations in our coast and the rest of our country?

      Why can such foundations have such huge influence, even political influence without anyone knowing?

      Should there be disclosure laws for this type of thing?

      It's called politics, Gregor. If you can't hack it, get out!

      Nov 25, 2010 at 9:21pm

      So Gregor has a problem with people criticizing his stupidity. Perhaps it's time for him to do us all a favor and step down so we can put this broken city back together again.

      Stop whining

      Nov 25, 2010 at 9:26pm

      I don't see why it matters that people who care about the environment from the U.S. donate to a Canadian politician with the same care and passion for the environment.

      There is no scandal here just good people trying to make this world a better, healthier and more sustainable planet for us and future generations.

      C. J. Ferris

      Nov 25, 2010 at 10:00pm

      As someone who has worked with non-profits that have received support from Endswell and Tides I don't know why this is an issue. If you are working for progressive policy change, why wouldn't you back a Mayor you believed would bring in good policy?
      Labour is involved in supporting candidates they believe will bring in legislation and regulation that supports working people. Corporations spend a fortune lobbying politicians and funding them.
      Why wouldn't the environmental/social justice movement support candidates that espouse their views. Now living up to all these expectations is another matter....


      Nov 25, 2010 at 11:05pm

      I'm much more likely to agree with an organization opposing fish farming then a fish farming lobbyist.

      Taxpayers R Us

      Nov 25, 2010 at 11:06pm

      @Stop Whining

      lol You can't honestly believe that money is being donated simply to help save trees, owls, bugs and such, can you?

      It would be nice if things worked that way, but they don't. These are all shell companies for more powerful interests, and this is their method of buying their way in.


      Nov 26, 2010 at 1:14am

      Wow, Vivianne Krause and those citycaucus boys are watching too much Glenn Beck:

      What does Tides Canada do? According to their website they provide "innovative philanthropic, financial, and project management services for change makers – philanthropists, foundations, activists, and civil organizations" and "work on issues like habitat protection, marine conservation, water resources, climate and energy, arctic policy, food systems and urban sustainability."

      Seems like they do pretty vital work in this context:

      "We the undersigned, senior members of the world's scientific community, hereby warn all of humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home is to not be irretrievably mutilated."

      ~ Union of Concerned Scientists, 1992,

      "At the heart of this assessment is a stark warning. Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.
      The provision of food, fresh water, energy, and materials to a growing population has come at considerable cost to the complex systems of plants, animals, and biological processes that make the planet habitable.
      As human demands increase in coming decades, these systems will face even greater pressures—and the risk of further weakening the natural infrastructure on which all societies depend.
      Protecting and improving our future well-being requires wiser and less destructive use of natural assets. This in turn involves major changes in the way we make and implement decisions.
      We must learn to recognize the true value of nature—both in an economic sense and in the richness it provides to our lives in ways much more difficult to put numbers on.
      Above all, protection of these assets can no longer be seen as an optional extra, to be considered once more pressing concerns such as wealth creation or national security have been dealt with."

      ~Statement of the Board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005,


      Nov 26, 2010 at 3:46am

      The excuses for this obviously questionable multi-tentacled international business/charity/banking/lobbying machine are pathetic.

      I do hope the people defending Gregor are getting paid well. It would be incredibly sad to think that there are still a handful of deluded people left in Vancouver who believe in this corporate fairy tale of "doing good things for the world"

      Mike Klassen

      Nov 26, 2010 at 6:48am

      Charlie, congratulations on getting the normally reticent Mayor Robertson to open up a little.

      Gregor seems to be conveniently ignoring the important question: did these charities fund his political campaigns? It could be the Mother Teresa Foundation and it still would be illegal. So talking about how noble Tides is misses the point.

      The questions by the above commenter "Kevin" are appropriate ones, btw.

      Thanks for your excellent coverage of this matter to date. I look forward to hearing more questions getting asked of the Mayor and his cronies on this topic.