Krause: My fair questions to Gregor Robertson

Gregor + Carole James
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."

+++ 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.

Gregor Robertson MLA button 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 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…

Mayor Robertson,

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.

Gregor NDP TabRecently, 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."

Fig Hewlett Oil & Gas $12 Million 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?

Hewlett Plan 2004 $70,000

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.


Vivian Krause


2 Gregor NDP $138,528
1 Convergence & Strat Comm

Excerpts from U.S. tax returns of Tides Canada Foundation showing payments to Convergence Communications:

3 TCF Convergence 2003, 2005

Note: In the 2004 return, this table is not included.

Excerpts from the campaign finance disclosure statements of the NDP Vancouver Fairview Constituency Association:

5 Gregor NDP Disclosure pg1

6 Gregor NDP Disclosure pg2

7 Gregor NDP Disclosure pg4

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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.

Bloedel Conservatory brightens up for Christmas
Vision caucus stick together through thick and thinning

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About The Author

  • Over Dacliff

    Isn’t that a lovely photo. If Bill Tieelman has his way, Greggy will soon become the new leader of the NDP. You can take that one to the bank. It’s only a matter of time before he and the dissidents tear poor Carol apart, leaving lots of room for our green mayor to make the leap back into provincial politics. Premier Gregor Robertson has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? I’m sure Solomon is laughing so hard he’s almost keeled over.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    Cheers, to Vivian for going down a very long and winding road. You are avery brave woman. I know that the current regime is engaging in character assination, so, you are doing something very right!
    Re: Gregor as premier. Yes, today Vancouver…tomorrow, Victoria! What would happen to his US backers were he to take a run? Everything funnelled thru Tides Canada to elect him to the NDP leadership, in order to go to the next phase of the “500 year” reign?
    The well funded Vision machine which has representatives that turn up at every community meeting, Metro Van meeting, could have deep roots into the Prov. NDP. Who close to the Mayor would benefit? Wow, there sure could be a lot of US $$$ largesse meted out to a few key players. Hmmm. Guess we wouldn’t hear too much “Yankee Go Home” sloganeering from the usual suspects, would we?
    And this: First Nations getting $$$ from US “non-profits” to work against the economic development interests of Canada? Really? Perhaps INAC could unilaterlay pull the plug on those FN who are “double dipping!”

  • Juice Boy Revealed

    Things just keep getting worse and worse for Juice Boy. The voters of Vancouver have learned a harsh lesson in voting this clown in. Hopefully more people will get out and vote next time. Can’t afford three more years of the grinning idiot.

  • Elissa Stark

    Vivian asks “why are these U.S. foundations spending so much in Canada? Why not Africa or Asia?”
    This is misleading – they aren’t just supporting initiatives in Canada. Look at the Moore Foundation, for example. They are spend way more outside of Canada than within.
    See their grants:

  • Fred

    Excellent research and many questions Emperor Gregor will go out of his way to dodge, obfuscate and deny.
    The scary part is, when you boil it down, that two rich Americans can use the money they inherited – they have never done anything to actually earn money, can literally buy themselves a political outcome.
    This is a very serious threat to the core of our democracy.
    Very bright lights need to be focused on Caroll Newell and Joel Solomon and their funding and fund raising activities.
    The very ugly ad campaign now be foisted on Canadians by Greenpeace might well be funded by all the Tides money sloshing around.

  • Elissa,
    I disagree that the question is misleading. Yes, they spend more money outside Canada than within, but that point is irrelevant to the question. They spend money in the U.S. and in Brazil (where, in my opinion, they may also be exercising protectionism in the name of the environment) but not spending any significant amounts of money that I am aware of in Africa or Asia.

  • Coco

    Excellent work, Vivian.
    To be honest, when I started to read this I thought it might be a case of making a mountain out of a molehill but your compelling research has convinced me that your questions are valid and deserve answers.
    Which is why the responses – or rather, the lack thereof – where equally interesting. (Martha’s was my favorite) If there is nothing to hide, why not give you some time and answers.
    Please keep us informed on your progress (or lack thereof).

  • Rick

    Thank you for work on this. When is mainstream media going to cover this? I know the Post gave extensive coverage but don’t recall seeing any feedback from readers.

  • Yuri

    Vivian you are a hero. Helping to expose this supports our democracy. You should be nominated for order of Canada! Keep up the good work and ignore the attacks.

  • A Canadian

    I agree Vivian should be given “The Order of Canada” for her excelent research uncovering this Solomon/Newall charity fraud. “The Order of Canada” should be resinded from Carol Newall. The background behind Newalls OAC award needs investigating.

  • Steven Forth

    Out of curiosity, who funds Vivian Krause and who funds City Caucas. In the interests of fairness I hope you will disclose that information.
    I personally am glad that there is at least some money to counter the heavy investments in misinformation from the energy industry, the real estate development industry, the lobbyists against progressive taxation, … I suspect the amounts above pale in comparison.
    To pretend that organizations like the Fraser Institute are not involved in or trying to shape local politis flies in the face of the facts. Go to their website and see their reports. And look at their funding.
    I am seriously concerned about Vancouver’s economic resilience and health and it is the long-term economic drivers that are behind my support for Vision. If the NPA has credible policies in these areas I am eager to hear them.

  • boohoo

    I’m all for busting corruption but…now I know some of you are delusional. The Order of Canada? lol!
    Also, whenever you title someting ‘my fair questions…’ it sounds somehow shady. Why do you need to qualify that they are fair?

  • George

    I don’t agree with your question to City Caucus and Vivian Krause, “at this point in time” it is irrelevant.
    I think you are making an attempt to imply something….
    If either was running for public office, or had connections to a candidate, we absolutely have the right to know, just as we have the right to know where our Mayor gets his funding.
    Neither are elected Politicians spending pubic taxpayers money.Therein lies the difference for me…

  • Max

    Journalists are either on contract with a particular new outlet, or, if they work ‘freelance’ then are paid by whomever they supply their work to. In the case of Ms. Krause, I believe it was the Financial Post that first ran her story.
    Freelance journalists are paid either by the word or the column inch, again depending on the publication.
    Over the years MSM has become somewhat sedate in their news reporting – this comes more from cutbacks to budgets. Once upon a time hanging onto lead journalists was a battle, now, they are replaced by persons fresh out of school and it shows.
    Journalists have followers, just like City Caucus and Alex G. I used to read Alex’s column in 24 hours until, one day he was gone. As well, with the change to reading on-line, and the ability to comment on story right away, the traditional papers are that one step behind. Interaction is important and does lead to further discussion, artilces, blogs on topic subjects.
    Robertson made a comment (I believe) to Krause’s first article which I would say, opened the door to futher scruitny. And, we cannot ignore the ‘Solomon’ factor and infulence at City Hall.
    If BIG Amercian dollars are flowing into Canadain politics, and influencing outcomes, the general public has every right to be made aware.

  • rf

    Steven, you have missed the point as usual.
    It is absolutely fair game for both sides to fund their agendas.
    However, what Krause is pointing out is that this version of the left is apparently funding the drive with political donations disguised as tax deductable charitable donations.
    Municipal political donations are not tax deductable.

  • One Pissed Vancouverite

    Charities who’s ‘executive directors’ make 150 grands per year for basically moving monies around from one account to the other until it’s become ‘clean’.
    WTF!? Claire Newell receives The Order of Canada for ‘placing’ 60 million. That’s why The Order has become a joke. Anyone could have it now for 60 mill + $1!
    Robertson it turned out to be the ‘worse Mayor money could buy’. He sucked as MLA, abandoned ship, made the taxpayers pay for his ‘aspirations’ and then as mayor basically served himself to the public purse.
    The pay back for his win may be counted in the numerous friends and ‘relatives’ appointed in senior management positions with no contest, no qualifications, no experience.
    1 $Billion dollars later in uninsured debt…
    But who cares. The Hollyhock Mafia is not on the hook for this. We are. When next year the crooks will go away,clean cut, we’ll still be here looking to rebuilt the city and for (laughs in here)justice.
    The type of justice where they’ll get strict visiting hours, and parcels from home.
    And BTW, apparently Solomon and his gang got to Jenny Kwan. It happened before. They destroyed COPE now they are looking at the NDP. And I dislike both! But still…
    Canadians must stand up to these bullies, who are buying their ways into our lives. Not everything and everyone is for sale you [edited by CityCaucus]!

  • Max

    If Carole James falls, it opens the door for Robertson to run for the leadership of the NDP, which, there seems to be great deal of specualtion on as is his run for Premier.
    Lord help us all. Can you only imagine the damage a Vision BC party could do to the province, and in short order?
    Perhaps that is why they are staying such a tight knit group.

  • douglas

    I love your comments on this, and mostly agree. Your last one however moved me to think…. The muni. elections are Nov. 19 2011. Therefore its a math problem for Gregor (and anyone feel free to comment if they find my math is wrong).
    Originally, the timing was right for Gregor to consider the city as a stepping stone to NDP leader (not an unthinkable hypothesis). ‘One term mayor to pursue premier’s chair’ and all that. Now however, Jenny’s calling Carole out probably advances any NDP timetable for leadership, and this puts Gregor in a quandary – he’d have to abandon ship in Vancouver if he wanted a piece of the NDP pie. If Carole survives and the party survives (giving long odds to the former) then Gregor is basically SOL, for Carole remains leader. If the party survives but Carole falls, Gregor can still go for it IF HE ABANDONS HIS POST HERE, but he’s already damaged goods and so are they. Quitting Vancouver now won;t make him better leadership material there.
    I think the NDP may be a bit hooped here, and so may be our Gregor, if his ultimate goal is to return to NDP as saviour.
    Oh well.

  • Steven, I am not funded by anyone. I am not affiliated with any industry or any political party.

  • Daniel

    Municipalities are creatures of the provincial government and therefore accountable to it.
    If individuals consider corporate, foreign and union donations a problem, then the provincial government should ban them.
    This website will be interviewing B.C. Liberal leadership candidates. If this website is concerned about such donations I encourage it to question the candidate’s position on this matter.
    A cursory look at the campaign finances of COPE, NPA and VV reveals that special interests dominate the contributions.
    This website criticizes VV as Civic Scene does the NPA. Rarely does this site commend VV. Similarly, Jonathan Ross incessantly lambasts Suzanne Anton in disrespectful posts.
    Let’s cut what Bill Bennett rightly calls the ‘bull shit’ in politics and elevate the conversation to objective, analytical and respectful dialogue. Let’s take advantage of the internet and use it for constructive purposes. If the media doesn’t then all political parties benefit and the public suffers.

  • Sally Forth

    @ Steven: Ms. Krause’s research stands on its own and relies upon publicly available legal documents. The Fraser Institute isn’t ashamed of its donors and publishes peer-reviewed research to help inform policy decisions (and they don’t think nefarious conspiracies are trying to besmirch the vital work they’re doing to save the planet). That’s not the same thing as lobbying for the prohibition of entire industries or simply buying politicians lock, stock and organic apple barrel.
    You demand to know “who funds Vivian Krause and who funds City Caucas (sic)”. Remember what I said about that navel? You first. Open-ness and transparency begin at home.
    There’s a difference between how things make you feel and the facts. The facts are real and must be faced. Your feelings really only matter to you.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Day
    “Interior. Hairdresser salon. It’s relatively quiet. Clicking of scissors. Turning of pages. A guttural cough here, a cell phone ring-tone there. Hair is cut methodically. Next to the window, in the full view of the occasional onlooker, Vivian is cutting away, in silence, to the rhythmic ‘Ooooh and Aaaaah’ of her impromptu audience. Only she’s not cutting hair. Balls! She’s cutting, balls. One. By. One.”
    Vivian, I can’t praise you enough for your research and gutless reporting, I can only imagine the depths of this ‘green’ charity scam that’s going on around the world, and not only in our own backyard. Tell you what, you are waaay, to nice and polite to them greedy lying Hollyhock bunch.
    Here’s the thing. Communism has been compromised; capitalism failed badly as well, and is still around us only because it’s kept on ventilators at huge costs by the vanishing elite, but on ‘other’s people money – as in taxpayers’.
    Only thing that’s left: re-branding try-outs, moving and hiding of assets, paying no taxes on the loot, and spinning and hoping that the new racket will see them ‘con artists’, as the new leaders of the pack.
    Revisit the history of the last century. It’s only repeating. Funny thing, it’s almost the ‘same’ selected, special and self-appointed people that are stirring the bullshit!
    Excellent article. On my wish list for the weekend? I hope Robertson’s sphincter is slumming shut so fast one could use it as a cigar cutter.
    And no, I don’t cater for any particular party or individuals or am affiliated with any organization either. But they are, and they, do know it! Here’s the truth about the truth. It hurts!
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Mira

    Ouch Glissy,
    ‘I hope Robertson’s sphincter is slumming shut so fast one could use it as a cigar cutter.’
    I am not smoking but I’l start if he does that. Too funny.