April 10, 2015, The Vancouver Observer wrongly reported that Vivian Krause, who writes this blog, was part of a planned attack on environmental charities involving suspended senator Mike Duffy, now in court on criminal charges, and Ezra Levant, a former broadcaster with Sun News. This is entirely untrue.
Within days, The Vancouver Observer retracted 15 sentences from its article, including the entire headline, and substantially re-wrote the rest. Some errors were not corrected. At my suggestion, a disclosure was added to acknowledge that the publisher, Linda Solomon Wood, is the sister of Joel Solomon. Mr. Solomon is a former employee and board chair of the Tides Foundation. He is also president of several charities, including the Endswell Foundation whose questionable expenditures have been exposed by my articles in The Financial Post, The Georgia Straight and elsewhere.
While blocking me on Twitter such that I couldn't read their tweets, The Vancouver Observer and the National Observer tweeted their story widely over the weekend of April 10 - 12. At least 12 of their tweets have since been deleted but before they were deleted, those tweets were re-tweeted more than 200 times to thousands of people, including, for example, Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party who has 140,000 followers on Twitter.
After 10 pm on Sunday evening, April 12, The Vancouver Observer apologized on Twitter that 'scheduled auto-tweets went out in error.' A vague apology was included in the article but The Vancouver Observer has refused to issue a proper correction to set the record straight.
May 10, 2015, The Vancouver Observer and The National Observer published a story by Sandy Garossino and Mychaylo Prystupa, with the headline "Duffy Connected Charity Critic to Lucrative Industry Cash." Again, this headline and the gist of this article are entirely untrue. The Vancouver Observer has been informed of numerous inaccuracies in the article, none of which have been corrected.
Below, I explain what has happened.
Background: Foreign Funding & The C.R.A. Audits of Environmental Charities
Since 2007, when I wrote my first open letter to David Suzuki, I have been following the science and the money behind environmental campaigns in Canada. More recently, I have written a series of articles, published in The Financial Post, about the anti-pipeline campaign, financed by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Tides Foundation and other U.S. sources.
In 2012, the federal government allocated $12 million for the C.R.A. to increase monitoring and audits of registered charities. A common idea is that the CRA's audits began with that extra funding but according to documents turned up by Peter O'Neill, the Ministry of Finance has had concerns about political activity and foreign funding since 2011.
The NDP and some of the media have characterized the C.R.A.'s audits as a witch hunt and a "war on charity." But there are legitimate issues. According to my lay analysis, at least 25 environmental charities have under-reported their foreign funding and/or political activity, or not reported it at all. Both the Sierra Club of B.C. and the Skeena Wild Conservation Trust have acknowledged that they have incorrectly reported their foreign funding in their tax returns.
In early April, the CRA announced the preliminary findings of some audits. Among other things, the CRA announced that it has found "serious non-compliance issues, beyond those related to political activities," including, "delivery of an undue benefit to a person involved with the charity." That's been one of my main concerns.
The CRA also announced at it intends to revoke the charitable status of at least five charities. The names of these charities have not been made public.
Joel Solomon has been asked whether any of his charities have been informed that the CRA intends to revoke their charitable status. He has not replied. Asked about the outcome of its CRA audit, Tides Canada replied but did not answer the question.
April 10, 2015 Article by The Vancouver Observer
Late in the day on Friday, April 10, 2015, The Vancouver Observer published an article by Danny Kresnyak with the headline, “Duffy Diaries Indicate Senator Coordinted Efforts With Krause And Levant To Attack Charities." That headline has since been entirely retracted.
Mr. Duffy's agenda (referred to as his "diary") is among the court exhibits related to his on-going trial on criminal charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
Far from co-ordinating with Mr. Duffy and Ezra Levant, I have criticized the manner in which Mr. Levant has used my work.
Why does my name appear in Senator Mike Duffy's agenda?
On the basis of my research, I have been asked to testify to committees of the House of Commons and the Senate. In the spring of 2012, a Senate committee conducted a study based on my work. Mr. Duffy was a member of that committee.
My first article was published in The Financial Post in October of 2010 and I first testified to a committee of the House of Commons in December of 2010, more than two years before I ever spoke with Mr. Duffy.
None of this relevant information is reported by The Vancouver Observer.
Did Mr. Duffy help me in any way?
Yes. Mr. Duffy gave me a referral to a speakers agent, Marilyn Cassidy who helped me with the contracts for events at which I had been invited to speak in the spring of 2012. Ms. Cassidy did not arrange for me to speak at any events at which I hadn't already been invited. To be clear, she did not seek speaking engagements for me. She did help me with contracts for events to which I had already been invited, and I appreciate her assistance very much.
It would have been correct for The Vancouver Observer to report that Mr. Duffy gave me a referral to a speakers agent. But that's not what The Vancouver Observer has reported. A referral to a speakers agent is not at all the same thing as connecting someone to "lucrative industry cash," as the Vancouver Observer has incorrectly reported.
The organizations that hosted events at which I gave presentations in the spring of 2012 are The Vancouver Board of Trade, the Association of Mineral Exploration of B.C., the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association and the Inuvik Petroleum Show. All of these organizations have confirmed in writing that Mr. Duffy played no role whatsoever in my involvement at those events. The Vancouver Board of Trade replied, "... We have no record or knowledge of any involvement of Mr. Duffy in this event. Any assertion that Mr. Duffy was involved in this event is without merit or evidence."
Undisclosed Relationship Between Vancouver Observer Publisher & Joel Solomon
Around noon on the day after the first article was first published, I received a call from Jenny Uechi, an editor with The Vancouver Observer. I explained that the article contained numerous, serious errors and that, in my opinion, The Vancouver Observer should have disclosed the relationship between its publisher, Linda Solomon Wood, and Joel Solomon.
As a former chairman of the Tides Foundation, as a director of Tides Canada and as a financial backer of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Joel Solomon is at the centre of a series of unanswered questions that I have raised about payments of $979,527 to Mr. Solomon, payments of $1.4 million to one of Mr. Solomon’s “investment firms,” the purchase of a $US-2 million ocean-front property adjacent to Mayor Gregor Robertson's real estate on Cortes Island, Mayor Robertson’s campaign finance with both the N.D.P. and with Vision Vancouver and the funding of the anti-pipeline Tar Sands Campaign by the Tides Foundation.
Mr. Solomon has allowed himself to be portrayed as a millionaire philanthropist. My analysis of the U.S. tax returns of the Endswell Foundation finds that his contributions to Endswell, of which he is supposedly a benefactor, are zero. In other words, as it appears to me, Mr. Solomon did not put in one penny into the foundation that supposedly he endowed, along with Carol Newell.
At my suggestion, The VO added a disclosure statement on April 11, 2015. Initially, the disclosure was at the top of the article. Then, it was moved to the end of the article and the reference to Tides Canada has since been entirely removed.
More than 20 Sentences Retracted or Re-Written
In all, The Vancouver Observer has retracted 15 entire sentences and re-written parts of eight sentences from the article originally published on April 10, 2015. Here are some of the sentences that The Vancouver Observer retracted entirely:
- The Vancouver Observer incorrectly reported that my name appears 12 times in Mr. Duffy's agenda. A subsequent version of the article, published on April 14, was even more incorrect, stating that I was "named 14 times" in Mr. Duffy's agenda. Both that statement and the original statement have been retracted by The Vancouver Observer.
- The Vancouver Observer incorrectly reported, "How Vivian Krause's attack on charities moved from her North Vancouver basement to the halls of power in Ottawa has long been a mystery. Duffy's diaries reveal clues." Those sentences have been entirely retracted. (And while there’s nothing wrong with living in a basement, it so happens that I don’t, nor do I attack charities).
- The Vancouver Observer incorrectly reported my testimony to the National Finance committee of the Senate of Canada. The article originally read, “…Vivian Krause alleged a conspiracy between American financial interests and Canadian environmental groups. She said the collusion was meant to ensure Canadian energy resources would remain destined for American markets rather than exported east to meet the growing demand in China.” Both sentences have been entirely retracted. On April 16, The Vancouver Observer replaced the two retracted sentences with the following text, which is correct, “Vivian Krause argued that "the campaign against Alberta oil is being funded as part of a massive campaign to foster the renewable energy industry in the United States."
- The Vancouver Observer incorrectly reported, “In the same time frame (referring to the spring of 2012), Krause received significant funding from the oil, gas and mining industries and has admitted 90% of her income in 2012, 2013 and 2014 was drawn from speaking fees and honorariums funded by energy industry giants - though she has not declared who or how much she was paid." The underscored part of this sentence has been retracted. While that is an improvement, the sentence is still misleading. If I had been paid to do the research that I have been doing, I would have no hesitation to say so. The fact is, I have done my research of my own initiative, unpaid. I have been tracking environmental funding since 2007. After having been at it for five years, I began to receive invitations to speak at events and have received honorariums for some of those presentations. I have posted information about that here and here.
- The Vancouver Observer incorrectly reported that my blog was a favorite of Fox News. To the best of my knowledge, my blog has never been mentioned on Fox News. This has been retracted.
Other details, the name of my blog and the date of my testimony to the senate’s National Finance committee were also incorrect and have since been corrected. The Vancouver Observer also removed photos that it had patched together of Mr. Duffy, Mr. Levant & me.
The Vancouver Observer’s Use of Twitter
Over the weekend that the first article was published, the Vancouver Observer tweeted it at least a dozen times. All the while, I was blocked on Twitter by both The Vancouver Observer and by the publisher, Linda Solomon Wood. When the article was brought to my attention, I tweeted that it was grossly untrue and asked Linda Solomon Wood to please unblock me on Twitter. Eventually, she did, but has since blocked me again.
On Sunday evening, April 20, 2015, the Vancouver Observer deleted eight tweets and four more were deleted during the early part of the week of April 29, 2015.
This is not the first time that The Vancouver Observer has published an article containing factual errors about me and then blocked me on Twitter while tweeting the story. The same thing happened in June of 2012 when I testified to the Senate's National Finance Committee.
When the The Vancouver Observer ran its second story, Sandy Garossino tweeted that Mr. Duffy had connected me to "oil $$" and in a string of tweets, she called into question the audits of charities by the Canada Revenue Agency. She has since quietly deleted at least one of those tweets. Ms. Garossino has a long history of disparaging me on Twitter, comparing my work to Colin Powell's infamous U.N. speech on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and so on.
After 10 pm on Sunday, April 12, 2015, The Vancouver Observer apologized on Twitter that some of its scheduled tweets had been issued "in error." No apology nor explanation was given for the tweets that were not scheduled but were deleted. In a revised version of its article, published on April 16, 2015, the Vancouver Observer added a vague apology.
In my view, an apology needs to be accompanied by the correction of all errors and the publication of a note to inform readers that the original publication was incorrect, and how it was incorrect.
Response from The Vancouver Observer & The National Observer
April 27, 2015, I sent a letter to Sandy Garossino, the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief of The Vancouver Observer, asking for correction of the remaining inaccuracies in the article. Sandy Garossino declined. I wrote back, asking her to please re-consider. She refused.
On May 14, I sent a letter to Mychaylo Prystupa, Sandy Garossino and Linda Solomon Wood in which I pointed out numerous errors in their second article. Since then, we have had an exchange of correspondence (more than a dozen letters & e-mails). None of the inaccuracies that I have drawn to their attention have been corrected.
Danny Kresnyak, Jenny Uechi and Mychaylo Prystupa, the writers of the articles, were included on all of my correspondence with Sandy Garossino and Linda Solomon. From the writers, I have received no reply to any of my correspondence regarding the inaccuracies in their writing.
Posted June 5, 2015.