The Strathmere Group Part 2

Collaboration Amongst US and Canadian Eco-Warrior Charities

In Part 1 of this series the formation of the Strathmere Group was outlined with only a tenuous grasp of what they were all about and how Marlo Raynolds, played the major role in its creation.  While Part 1 disclosed the McConnell Foundation granted $338,000 it didn’t disclose that in 2016 they also granted them $150,000 and a Montreal based charity, Echo Foundation, granted Tides Foundation Canada $100,000* “To support the Strathmere Group to nurture collaborative work among ENGOs”.  

What also wasn’t disclosed was that Raynolds was a candidate for the Liberal Party in 2015 in the riding of Banff-Airdrie and came in a very distant 2nd to Blake Richards who was the Conservative candidate.  Despite that loss however Raynolds was hand-picked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a senior position as noted in a  Nov. 12, 2015 post on the CochraneToday website: After losing his bid against sitting Conservative MP Blake Richards in the Oct. 19 federal election, Raynolds moved to Ottawa on Nov. 2 to work as chief of staff for minister of the environment and climate change Catherine McKenna.” Needless to say, Raynolds was happy to be ordained by PM Trudeau!  

What is an unknown is; was Raynolds still in charge of the Strathmere Group when they obtained that grant from the McConnell Foundation in 2016 as by then he was firmly in the position of “Chief of Staff” to Minister McKenna?  If so, perhaps the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada should investigate. I would note the date of the ECHO’s grant is an unknown!

Just two years before Raynolds ran as the Liberal candidate he wrote a book titled: “Prepare your Non-Profit Organization to Help Create a Wave of Positive Change”.  The only reference to the Strathmere Group is in Chapter 12 on page 89 of this “how to” book and he subtly pats himself on the back.  The following is the excerpt:

After leading the Pembina Institute for a year, I realized that the environmental movement’s organizations really did not connect with each other very often, in fact hardly at all, and almost never at the executive director level. As a result, I initiated meetings between the different groups and for seven years, I led what became known as the “Strathmere Group”, which brought together the executive directors of 12 major Canadian ENGOs directly engaged in public policy. There was outside pressure to make this group the strategic centre for the movement, but the primary purpose was to start by building stronger personal relationships between the leaders of the very different organizations in the movement. Over the years, there has been an increased level of genuine collaboration across the participating organizations.” 

The 124-page book was not advice for the hundreds of NGO formed in Ontario to fight against the intrusion of industrial wind turbines that harms birds. bats and humans and damages rural well water!  It was advice for the proponents who favoured shutting down our use of fossil fuels and believed it would save the world while creating jobs.  A related excerpt from Raynolds abut jobs in his “how to” book says: “Your job is to help the politician tell the story you want to be told. You need to show how your policy idea fits into their broader narrative of what is important to them. If they care about jobs, you need to find a compelling way to connect your policy idea to a good story about jobs.”

It should be disconcerting to all who believe in democracy to note Marlo Raynolds, who lost his bid for power as a Liberal MP has been in a position of power since late 2015.  He has been able to foist his beliefs on the rest of us as Chief of Staff to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and continues to do so! 

Moving back to the Strathmere Group’s objectives it appears the first issue on the “Group’s” agenda was to formulate a series of Questions to be asked of Canada’s political leaders in respect to the then upcoming COP 15, Copenhagen meeting leading to “the next global climate deal”. The questions are referenced as: “Backgrounder: Questions Asked of Each Leader” (Appendix A)  and posted on Pembina’s website. The questions focused on; putting a price on emissions, conservation, funding for developing countries and renewable energy “like wind and solar” and as a matter of course scary stuff like “global warming”.

Canada and many other countries agreed to reduce emissions at the COP 15 Copenhagen meeting and Prime Minister Harper called it a “comprehensive and realistic” agreement, while U.S. President Barack Obama hailed it as a “meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough.” The agreement was however, non-binding, and allowed countries to set their own emission reductions targets.  Needless to say, the eco-charities had a hissy-fit that it wasn’t compulsory!

The leaders of the Strathmere Group’s 12 members, months before the COP 15 conference; met in late May and/or early June 2009 “outside of Washington, D.C. to discuss solutions and areas for Coordination”. At that point Nature Canada had dropped out and Equiterre (a registered charity) along with Climate Action Network Canada (CAN-RAC) a not-for-profit had been added. The ”Strathmere Group” member’s leaders met with 21 U.S. environmental and conservation “leaders” for the purpose of expanding the “silo” and setting combined targets to “protect our fragile natural areas such as the Artic and the Boreal Forest.”

Just over two years later (October 6, 2011) and two years after the Ontario GEA was passed an election in Ontario was held and the McGuinty led Ontario Liberal Party (OLP) eked out a minority win.  From all appearances the OLP benefited via support from several of the eco-charities who were, as now determined, members of the Strathmere Group.  As a result the writer personally complained to Elections Ontario via a letter dated October 11, 2011 about the activities of those eco-charities and others including public sector unions.  Five (5) of the members of the Strathmere Group, including Pembina Institute were highlighted on the complaint letter including; Environmental Defence, Sierra Club, David Suzuki Foundation and Climate Action Network Canada. The response from Elections Ontario was benign and if they took action, they did not inform the complainant ie; yours truly!

Chapter 3 will examine the joint meeting between U.S. and Canadian eco-warriors and the career advancement of the Canadian signators.

*Thanks to Scott Luft for providing this information. 

Appendix A

Backgrounder: Questions Asked of Each Leader

1. There’s a consensus among experts that putting a price on greenhouse gas pollution is a key element of any credible climate plan for Canada, and we have recommended a price level of at least $30 per tonne in 2009. At the same time, countries are heading into the second half of crucial negotiations on the next global climate deal, which is scheduled to wrap up in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

How will you ensure that Canada has an adequate price on pollution in effect by December 2009?

2. Few places in the world can still boast the kinds of wild spaces — and wild species ―that can be found from coast to coast to coast in Canada. But in the face of rapidly accelerating climate change and pressure to expand resource development, we need to move fast to secure this natural legacy.

Will your government, in partnership with the provinces and other stakeholders, seize the opportunity to implement a “conservation first” planning framework for our lands and waters that will protect at least half of Canada’s intact wild areas and all our species at risk?

3. As we mentioned earlier, countries are now heading into the final stretch of crucial negotiations on the next global climate deal. Two important issues at those negotiations will be funding for developing countries, to help them deal with the impacts of climate change, and national targets that are consistent with climate science.

Please tell us what you would put on the international negotiating table as Prime Minister to make a positive contribution to the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol.

4. Evidence from across the country suggest that Canada will soon face a national water crisis. Climate change, burgeoning urban and industrial water use, and persistent pollution pose threats to water quality and quantity, and in turn to both human and ecosystem health. Water policy experts, scientists and concerned citizens are all calling for a national water strategy to address this looming crisis.

Do you and your party agree that Canada needs a national water strategy and support efforts by provinces and other stakeholders to manage water resources sustainably? What issues or regions should be priorities in addressing Canada’s water concerns and how will your party take action in addressing these priorities?

5. Emerging renewable energy technologies like wind and solar energy can help address climate change and represent a new industrial economic opportunity for Canada. The federal government’s only major support mechanism for renewable electricity, the eco ENERGY for Renewable Power program, will run out of funds next year. Stable policies have been a key part of creating steady growth renewable energy in many European countries.

First, will you commit to renewing and expanding this support program in or before Budget 2009 ― yes or no? And second, does your party have specific targets for renewable electricity in Canada in the medium term (2015–2020), including set asides for northern and remote communities?

6. In one way or another, each of you have acknowledged that climate change is one of the most urgent threats facing humanity.

To help our viewers gauge your personal interest in this issue, please tell us about how you personally came to understand the seriousness and urgency of global warming.

Author: parkergallantenergyperspectivesblog

Retired international banker.

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