A North Vancouver researcher has written a letter to Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson saying she is not part of a campaign to "besmirch" the Tides Canada Foundation.
Vivian Krause also declared in the November 26 letter that she has "no affiliation whatsoever with the fish farming industry nor with any other industry".
"I am writing to you as a member of the public," Krause wrote. "My main concern is what appears to me to be the influx of large amounts of foreign funding—and the influence that goes along with that. I'm concerned that this hasn't exactly been out in the open."
Robertson, a former director of the Tides Canada Foundation, told the Straight yesterday (November 25) that there are "ideological witch hunts" underway to demonize people trying to improve the world.
The mayor said that he has asked "tough questions" about subsidies to the oil-and-gas industry and about oil-tanker traffic risks in Vancouver and along the B.C. coast.
"There may be concerns from the industry side about that," he added.
For months, Krause has been raising questions on her website about how millions of dollars have moved between U.S.-based charitable foundations to the U.S.-based Tides Foundation, the Endswell Foundation, and Tides Canada Foundation, which funds environmental organizations.
It's illegal for registered charities to be involved in partisan political activities.
In her letter, which is one of several that she has written to Robertson and his closest associates, Krause raised questions about money raised for Robertson's successful NDP provincial campaign in Vancouver-Fairview in 2005.
She stated that the Endswell Foundation has spent $11.4 million since 2003, including $1.9 million to an investment company called Renewal Partners. It is an investor in Happy Planet, which is the juice company created by Robertson and his business partner, Randal Ius.
Renewal Partners is headed by the mayor's close associate and financial backer, Joel Solomon.
Krause noted that Renewal Partners and Strategic Communications, which identifies itself as a "partner" of Renewal Partners on its website, contributed $153,783 to Vision Vancouver in 2008.
In addition, Krause wrote in her letter, Strategic Communications—which is run by pollster Bob Penner—donated $28,529 to Robertson's NDP campaign in Vancouver-Fairview.
Another $20,641 flowed into Robertson's NDP campaign from Convergence Communications, which was headed by the mayor's chief of staff, Mike Magee. It billed the Tides Canada Foundation $204,036 in 2003 and 2005, according to Krause's letter.
Robertson was a director of Tides Canada from 2002 to 2005. Magee was senior adviser to Tides Canada from 2002 to 2007.
Krause's letter to Robertson noted that in 2004, the Tides Canada Foundation received $70,000 from the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation to develop a strategic plan to address oil and gas development in B.C.
Since then, Krause stated, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation has contributed another $9.2 million to Tides Canada Foundation and the U.S.-based Tides Foundation to address the oil and gas industry.
Krause's letter to the mayor asks five questions in connection with the Tides Canada Foundation's strategic plan:
”¢ What did Tides Canada's "strategic plan" involve, back in 2004?
”¢ Did that "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 that U.S.-funded plan involve Tides Canada/Tides USA funding a large number of organizations—as reported recently in the Financial Post and Vancouver Sun—to campaign against Alberta oil?
”¢ Did that "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 that "strategic plan" involve supporting a particular political party, or a particular politician?
For his part, Robertson told the Straight that it's "unfortunate" to see this story getting traction in the national media.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.