Collaboration Amongst Eco-Warrior Charities and ENGO
Somewhere between 2007 and 2010 the McConnell Foundation (a charity registered with the CRA and assets of $628 million) donated $338,000 to: “The Pembina Foundation for Environmental Research and Education supports initiatives to develop our understanding of the ways we produce and consume energy, of the impact of these means on the environment and on communities, and of options for the more sustainable use of natural energy resources. It goes on to note: “Pembina acts as the coordinating partner for The Strathmere Group.”
The “Full Description” on the McConnell Foundation site identifies the “Group” consists of the following familiar climate change advocates:
Pembina Institute, World Wildlife Fund, EcoJustice Canada, Nature Canada,* Sierra Club of Canada, Pollution Probe, Greenpeace, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, David Suzuki Foundation and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
All are registered charities with the Canada Revenue Agency with the exception of Greenpeace! The latter lost it’s charitable status in June 1989 when “Revenue Canada’s charities division says that the Greenpeace Environmental Foundation can’t be considered a charity because its activities “have no public benefit.” One could easily say the same about the others in the group!
It should be noted that 4 of the members (David Suzuki Foundation, Pembina Foundation, Environmental Defence and Equiterre) of the “Strathmere Group” were at one point being investigated by the CRA however those audits were cancelled by the Trudeau led government when they attained power in 2015.
Those on the opposing side of eco-charities and Greenpeace might wonder what is “The Strathmere Group” about and what are the initiatives they plan to develop? Trying to find specific information on the “group” is difficult beyond what the McConnell Foundation has under their grant message. They note the 11 member organizations “have over 358,000 members, 420 staff and annual budgets totaling over $50 million.”
One should wonder why didn’t the “group” organization with 358,000 members simply use 0.67% of their annual budget or ask members to cough up $1.00 each instead of asking for a tax supported handout?
The specifics of the McConnell message included a reference to a paper written by environmental lawyer Jerry Demarco, dated June 8, 2005 titled “Ideas for a More Effective Environmental Movement in Canada”. At this juncture it is worth mentioning; Demarco was the former Associate Chair of the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal [2018 income of $214K]) and is now Ontario’s Commissioner of the Environment reporting to the Ontario Auditor General so he is still dependent on Ontario taxpayers for his salary. The “Law Times” touts Demarco as an “Expert in environmental policy and law” whatever that means! Demarco’s paper, as one of three recommendations, suggested: “environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs)** must overcome the “silos” isolating them from one another in order to “think and act like a movement”.
It would appear the “Strathmere Group” was created to break the “silo” holding them back! Back then the Pembina Institute was reputedly headed up by Marlo Raynolds. Today Marlo Raynolds holds the title of “Chief of Staff” with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
Sometime in April 2012 Raynolds was interviewed by the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network or CEGN (name changed to Environment Funders Canada). NB: CEGN is a charity founded by Bruce Lourie whose claim to fame within the eco-charities is jaw-dropping! The McConnell Foundation is a member of EFC and have donated in excess of $230K to them in the past 5 years.
In reviewing Raynolds “linkedin” page he states he was a “Senior Advisor” with Pembina Institute until August 2012 yet the April 2012 interview states he was, “former Executive Director of the Pembina Institute and co-ordinator of the Strathmere Group of large Canadian environmental organizations working on environmental policy.” It would seem both the dates of tenure and his title when with Pembina are askew! This makes one wonder how well he is managing his position of authority as “Chief of Staff” at the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change?
The Pembina Institute were registered with the Registry of Lobbyists by Marlo Raynolds on February 6, 2005 and since then have reportedly had 489 meetings with government officials. Strathmere Group on the other hand don’t appear to have registered but searching government records discloses on April 9, 2018 the Strathmere Group of Environmental Organizations met with the Minister of Finance. As noted above finding information on the Strathmere Group is difficult but an undated CEGN 48 page “Climate Communications Survey” includes some references to the group and its members but other than that its activities are hard to find.
So, what happened to the Strathmere Group, did they spend the $338K the McConnell Foundation granted them and achieve the desired results?
Stay tuned for the next Chapter in the history of the Strathmere Group to follow.
**The word “charity” cannot be found in Demarco’s paper yet 10 of the eleven members of the original Strathmere Group were registered charities.