The information below comes from an article submitted by Vivian Krause to the Financial Post. Vivian Krause is a Vancouver researcher and writer for the Financial Post. We do not take any credit for the article and all credits go to the writer and publisher.
Below is additional information on the operations of some environmental charities: Tides Canada back in 1993, the U.S. Tides Foundation incorporated in B.C. under the name “Tides Foundation.” Ten years, later, Tides changed the name of its Vancouver office to Tides Canada Foundation, records show. Since 2010, one third of Tides Canada’s revenue is foreign.
For 2014, Tides Canada’s expenditures totalled $30 million for a range of environmental and social programs. With 220 employees, it has an annual payroll of $17 million, including $9 million for consultants. That’s no small operation. In 2013, Tides made at least 20 payments that are not listed in the details of publicly available U.S. tax returns nor are any of these these payments mentioned in the Tides’ annual list of grantees.
Without the covering letters, there would have been no way of knowing that Tides made these payments to Canadian charities through the Tides Canada Foundation Exchange Fund. Some of these payments, but not all, are clearly for Tar Sands Campaign.
For example, Tides paid the Sierra Club of B.C. $15,000 for a project called, “Our Coast, Our Call: Mobilizing and Strengthening Opposition to Tanker Expansion on the B.C. Coast.” All payments went through the Tides Canada Foundation Exchange Fund, the covering letters say.
Tides Canada says that the Exchange Fund facilitates gifts to Canadian charities from U.S. individuals, corporations, and foundations. “This unique solution provides donors the flexibility to support international charities and gives charities the flexibility to receive gifts without money ever crossing the border,” says Tides Canada in an undated web-page, adding that this arrangement has enabled gifts of $22.6 million to Canadian charities.
Back in 2012, then federal cabinet ministers Joe Oliver and Peter Kent suggested that Canadian environmental charities were using foreign funds to block pipeline projects, Tides Canada’s CEO, Ross McMillan, expressed outrage, calling these allegations “desperate and preposterous.” “There is no evidence that any of this is taking place.
He should apologize,” McMillan told CBC. Sara Goodman, then a senior employee of Tides Canada testified to a standing committee of the Senate of Canada, “This myth of huge amounts of American funding coming through Tides Canada to oppose the oil sands is exactly that: It is a myth.” And yet, according to the covering letters on payments that have come to light since then, forwarding U.S. funds to Canadian charities that are involved in the Tar Sands Campaign is exactly what Tides and Tides Canada have been doing.
Since 2013, the CRA requires charities to report revenue from outside Canada that is ear-marked for political activity. Tides Canada Foundation reported zero such funding in 2014 and only $2,000 for 2013. And yet, one of the covering letters on a 2013 payment to Tides Canada Foundation was for $20,000 “to push the government of Alberta to enact or strengthen climate policies.” For 2014, Tides Canada reported spending $160,000 on political activity, 0.5% of total expenditures, and on foreign-funded political activity, zero. And yet, last year Tides Canada provided $1.1 million on the Great Bear Initiative, a central organization in The Tar Sands Campaign, paid at least $394,000 by Tides.
Tides Canada spent a further $475,000 on Pacific Wild, which has since been folded into the Great Bear Initiative. In a fundraising proposal for a $400,000 project with five staff, Pacific Wild wrote to a U.S. funder that its goal is the cancellation of Northern Gateway and federal legislation banning tanker traffic on the north coast of B.C. Pacific Wild’s goal was to create public pressure directed at the Canadian government. “Simply put, if tankers are banned from the coast, no pipeline will ever be built,” wrote Ian McCallister, the project’s director.
Communicopia, another organization funded to some degree by Tides Canada, provides communications support and develops “on-line real estate” for at least 60 environmental and aboriginal organizations involved in The Tar Sands Campaign. Communicopia helped with Neil Young’s concerts, the Act on Climate rally in Quebec, and Pull Together, a campaign to raise funds for First Nations legal action against Enbridge.
Through the Charitable Impact Foundation, Communicopia has been funded by Tides Canada for unspecified purposes. But unless you read U.S. tax returns, you wouldn’t know. Organizing for Change, a project of Tides Canada, has received at least $650,000 from U.S. foundations since 2010. This project has a long list of policy-related goals, including a B.C.-based review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Popular Change, also partially funded by Tides Canada, provides voter/supporter identification and telephone services. Its client list also includes Lead Now, the Dogwood Initiative and at least six charities involved in the Tar Sands Campaign along with their U.S. funders. In view of its U.S. funding and activities, it does not stand to reason that on total expenditures of $30 million of which $9 million ($8.3 million & $698,000) was from from outside Canada, the amount that Tides Canada received for foreign-funded political activity was zero (line 5032).
Dogwood Initiative Having received more than $1 million from Tides, Dogwood is a leading organization in the Tar Sands Campaign and has heavily involved itself in B.C. politics at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. The Dogwood Initiative has said on-line that it is funded through the Salal Foundation. That information was removed earlier this year. Created in 2001, Salal has long been directed by Joel Solomon, a former board chair of Tides, and other individuals involved with Tides and Tides Canada.
Between 2000 and 2008, Salal had no financial activity other than $5,000 paid to tides Canada in 2004. Created in 2012, DI had only $3,267 in revenue that year. In 2013, DI took in $121,063 of which 99 % was from Tides Canada, and was transferred to the Salal Foundation, tax returns show. As such, DI’s only financial activity in 2013 was to forward money from Tides Canada to Salal, which funds or funded, the Dogwood Initiative. In 2014, DI reported zero revenue and total spending of only $66.
Hollyhock With combined annual revenue of $4.5 million, Nextwave and the Leadership Institute run Hollyhock, an ocean-front facility on Cortes Island in British Columbia. Hollyhock pitches itself as a retreat centre for personal development. It also runs strategic planning sessions for the Tar Sands Campaign but those aren’t mentioned in Hollyhock’s published program of activities. Last year’s week-long event, attended by a who’s who of The Tar Sands Campaign, included sessions on “public opinion and the Canadian election” and “why should Canada have a national energy policy?” According to the 16-page, participant’s workbook for last year, sessions were held on oil by rail, divestment and supporting First Nations legal challenges.
Pembina Five years in a row (2009 – 2013), the Pembina Foundation for Environmental Research & Education has reported zero foreign funding. However, tax returns indicate that during these years, Pembina was paid $1.6 Million by U.S. foundations. Besides that, The Pembina Institute, a sister organization to the foundation, received at least $1.6 million for The Tar Sands Campaign.
Raincoast Conservation According to a covering letter on a payment from Tides, Raincoast was paid $10,000 “for your organization’s participation in the Joint Panel Review (JPR) and ongoing communications to the public about the risks of the Enbridge Northern gateway pipeline.” For 2014, Raincoast Conservation reported zero foreign funding meanwhile one of its longstanding U.S. funders, the Wilburforce Foundation, reports granting Raincoast $100,000 for a project called “Carnivores and Enbridge.”
RAVEN Trust RAVEN Trust reports that it has supported the Beaver Lake Cree, The Tsilhqotin and the Treaty 8 Nations in their legal battles against the Alberta and B.C. governments. On total expenditures of $2.2 million (2010 – 2014) of which 43% is from outside Canada, RAVEN reports zero expenditures on political activity. Whether legal action constitutes political activity is determined on a case-by-case basis, the CRA says. Sierra Club of B.C. For 2013, The Sierra Club of B.C. reported that it received zero funding from outside Canada that was intended to be for political purposes.
Presented with a covering letter on a payment from Tides, Sierra Club acknowledged that it had incorrectly reported its foreign funding for political purposes for 2013. That covering letter said that Tides paid $30,000 to the Sierra Club “to stop the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines including working with First Nations, PowerShift and others.” Some environmental charities reported zero spending on political activity of any kind: Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Yukon Conservation Society, RAVEN Trust, Skeena Wild, the LI Leadership Institute, the Nextwave Foundation, the DI Foundation and the Salal Foundation. In view of the campaign that these charities have been involved in for many years, this does not ring true.
SkeenaWild SkeenaWild also reported zero foreign funding and yet U.S. tax returns show that it was paid $1.5 Million (2009-2012) from the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. Based in San Francisco, Moore is the biggest funder of environmental groups in B.C. and has granted $140 million over the past decade. Of that, $90 million was for projects on the north coast of B.C. To its credit, SkeenaWild acknowledges that its foreign funding was reported incorrectly and for 2014, SkeenaWild reports that more than 80% of its million dollar budget is from outside Canada.
Yukon Conservation Society The Yukon Conservation Society reports that is hasn’t spent a penny on political activity in five years. This claim is hard to reconcile with information that YCS has reported to U.S. donors who have funded the Protect The Peel campaign to ban industrial activity in 14% of the Yukon, an area the size of Ireland. YCS, in conjunction with CPAWS, reported to one of its U.S. donors that they lead a groundswell of opposition to a government decision to allow oil and gas exploration, leading to a five year moratorium. YCS & CPAWS also report that they persuaded Yukon government to commit to a consultation on fracking.
That’s political. And yet, on total expenditures of $2.8 million, YCS reports zero expenditures on political activity. World Wildlife Fund Canada WWF Canada reports in its U.S. tax returns that a focus of its programs has been to pressure the National Energy Board to deter hydrocarbon development and pipelines. In 2012, WWF Canada reported that it had launched a joint campaign with Coastal First Nations to rally Canadians against the Northern Gateway pipeline.
WWF took partial credit for the B.C. government’s decision to disapprove the pipeline. Between 2009 and 2013, WWF Canada reported spending less than 0.5% of its budget on political activity on total spending of $114 million. Back in 2009 WWF Canada received $160,000 for its participation in the Tar Sands Campaign. At the time, WWF’s president was Gerald Butts. He left in 2012, paid $296,000 that year, tax returns say.
Over the years, Tides has markedly increased funding to Canadian organizations that are not registered charities. In 2014, Tides paid $379,000 to the Sisu Society, a non-profit society that supports LeadNow, and $201,000 to the Dogwood Initiative.
The total that Tides has paid to Sisu since 2012 is $609,000 making it the top Canadian recipient of funds from Tides over the past three years. According to a covering letter on a payment, LeadNow was funded “to generate on-line campaigning, grassroots organizing, and public events designed to foster a national conversation about a Canada that is not driven by tar sands development and which will encourage policy reform to protect the climate and the environment.”
The manner in which the Tides has shifted away from funding Canadian charities is evident in amounts paid to the Sierra Club of Canada. Between 2009 and 2011, Tides paid $435,000 to the Sierra Club of Canada for the Tar Sands Campaign. Of that, $250,000 was for forwarding to the Prairie Chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada, Keepers of the Athabasca and the Climate Action Network, and $185,000 was apparently for use by the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation.
In 2012, Tides ended payments to the Sierra Club of Canada and since has been making payments directly to Keepers of the Athabasca Watershed Society ($146,898) and the Prairie Chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada ($60,000). Tax returns for 2014, recently posted at the CRA’s web-site, indicate that despite whatever audits may be underway, total revenues and expenditures are up slightly, with some exceptions. For 2014, the 15 environmental charities mentioned earlier had total revenue of $76 million. According to their tax returns, they received $17.3 million from outside Canada, triple what they reported in 2009 when the C.R.A. began to require charities to report their foreign funds. The CRA’s audits are a step in the right direction.
The CRA should also require the same level of disclosure as the Internal Revenue Service. This would mean that charities would report the names of the highest paid employees and contractors, the amounts paid and the services provided.
Note the last portion were comments by Tzeporah Berman, funny how she failed to talk about what was in it for her.
“Eyebrows were raised this week when an American group gave US$2 million plus unspecified “expert resources” to Tzeporah Berman, the Vancouver-based campaigner who has made a lucrative career out of working with her U.S.-based advisors to kneecap the Canadian resource economy.”
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