Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Parker Gallant: The Broadbent Institute and their selective report on “Political Activity” by charities

Following is a guest post written by Parker Gallant. I've collaborated with Parker on articles that have appeared in The Financial Post and on the Energy Probe site noted by Parker and the Broadbent Institute.
I've previously posted articles from Parker that had no obvious home. A topic of those orphan columns were loans to a charity - MaRS - by an Ontario government body that didn't exist to give money to charities, but to fund Ontario's MUSH facilities. Years later the MaRS scandal is unfolding, as I hope a faux charity scandal will over time.

The Broadbent Institute and their selective report on “Political Activity” by charities

A recently released report from the Broadbent Institute claims it is dismayed the CRA doesn't come down harder on “right leaning charities” and picks 10 of those and desperately tries to provide quotes from reports and articles to back up their premise. (link to .pdf)

The report doesn't claim authorship by anyone at the “Institute” but the writer's personal opinion is that it sure looks like the author is Rick Smith, formerly Executive Director of Environmental Defence and now ED of the Broadbent Institute. The report tries to glorify five (5) of the charities currently under audit by the CRA including the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence. Those charities claim some of their revenue was spent on “political activity” whereas the 10 “right leaning” charities didn't make those claims.

The “report” attempts to vilify the latter by finding appropriate quotes/data from articles or reports. One of my quotes was included in an effort to discredit Energy Probe where I occasionally contribute articles. The quote; from a September 21, 2013 article I had penned about the “Sussex Group” and leaked documents the Toronto Star had reported on in 2010. In the article I noted “The “Sussex” document disclosed the “unnamed green energy developers would be in the company of Environmental Defence and the GEA Alliance, both instrumental in creating the Green Energy and Green Economy Act when George Smitherman was Energy Minister.”

I have penned several articles about Environmental Defence over the years when Rick Smith was their ED and more recently since Tim Gray took the reins. One of the earlier articles disclosed how much money ED had received from Ontario's taxpayers via the Trillium Foundation, Friends of the Greenbelt and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund. It was over $3 million!
The quote they picked from the hundreds of articles I have written had this lead in: “Furthermore, much of Energy Probe’s online content squarely attack government policies.” connecting it to footnotes stating “Much of Energy Probe's online content is authored by Parker Gallant”.

The quote they chose was: “Our biggest hope is that the NDP finally wake up and discover the very people they claim to represent are the ones suffering the most from the GEA. At that point perhaps Ms. Horvath will stop playing nice with Premier Wynne and trigger an election…Stop the confusion, kill the Green Energy Act!” This led to a reference to “energy poverty” caused by escalating energy prices.

As we know Ms. Horwath did help to defeat the Liberals as her party did not support Finance Minister Sousa's budget. The rejection of that budget led to the June 12, 2014 election that gave the Liberals a majority. I have trouble determining how the Institute considers the remark to be “political activity” but perhaps they have a different perspective! That becomes particularly evident if one explores the numerous activities of a political nature that Mr. Smith championed during his tenure at ED.

I will follow with a few of those but first it is important to see what ED have posted on their “about” webpage: “Environmental Defence is Canada's most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.” Now some examples of ED's “political activity”!
  1. ED sponsored a big event at the MaRS Discovery District bringing in Al Gore to congratulate Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals for shutting down Ontario's coal plants putting out a press release. 
  2. ED put out another press release in the run-up to the 2011 Ontario election announcing they were using 8 year old Penelope to promote green energy. Mr. Smith and Penelope were both speakers at the Queens Park launch. Penelope put out a “report card” on the political platforms of the three parties that clearly favoured the Liberals and the GEA. 
  3. ED also put another press release out just prior to the recent Federal Budget noting they were ready to comment on any and all aspects relating to the environment. 
  4. Looking at the lobbying efforts of ED you can also determine they are aggressive with eight (8) people on the Ontario Lobbyist Registry. ED officials met twice with the Ontario Minister of Energy in late May 2013 and early June 2013 before Minister Chiarelli launched his “engagement” to seek input on a revision to the Long-Term Energy Plan. 
  5. Tim Gray is also on the Federal Lobbyist Registry. It is laughable that the Federal Registry notes Tim Gray’s, first effort was focused on:“seeking funds from Consumers Affairs.” 
  6. ED's 2013 annual report has familiar names as donors (presumably tax deductible) including Bruce Lourie and Summerhill Group, Jack Gibbons (Chair, Ontario Clean Air Alliance), David Love, Executive Director, Conservation Foundation of Greater Toronto, Olivia Chow (MPP), Tom Rand (MaRS Discovery District), etc. all of whom are involved in the same cause with several other organizations that are not being audited by the CRA. 
  7. ED created a website: just prior to the 2011 election that requested people send a letter to all parties that stated: I'm concerned that our new clean energy jobs, our greenspace, and our clean air and water could be taken away from us. Ontario's elected officials are all over the place in talking about these things, leaving us confused about the direction we are heading in. Please let me know where you stand on these issues. Please come clean!” Only the PC Party had declared they would kill the GEA during the campaign. 
  8. Just before the 2011 election Rick Smith sent out letters that carried this message: “Environmental threats such as unsustainable growth and global warming mean we risk handing a planet to the next generation that is polluted and unstable.” and told the recipient: “VOTE. And before you do, look your kid, grandkid, niece or neighbour’s kid in the eye, think about what type of future you want for them, and whether we’re making the choices now that will give that to them. Penelope has done all she can. Now it’s up to us.” 
I could go on providing more examples of ED's “political activity” but this simply highlights the hypocrisy of the Broadbent Institute in trying to make a case where there isn't one. If I was to venture into others under investigation by the CRA it wouldn't be difficult to provide blatant examples of their “political activity”. Just one example is David Suzuki's endorsement of Dalton McGuinty in a short video still available for viewing.

It is simply mind boggling that the media pay any attention to these purveyors of bogus reports that traditionally are author-less; signifying they are perhaps afraid they might be questioned on their ability to conduct proper research rather than launch spurious claims!

But that is simply my opinion made without anonymity!

Parker Gallant, 
October 26, 2014

1 comment:

  1. Keeping Penelope out of school to promote "green" energy was most likely illegal but nothing was done about this. Ontario has compulsory school laws.

    Now the Ontario government has awarded contracts to companies to influence grade school children about energy use. At the very least this is unethical. Grade school children are not old enough to understand this situation. Why are school boards allowing this to happen?