David Suzuki Foundation defends itself over new right-wing attack

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

The David Suzuki Foundation knew this was coming.

"It should be crystal clear to the public," environmentalist David Suzuki told the Globe and Mail earlier this month.

"The government is selectively going after the environmental groups."

It wasn't quite the Harper government but on Tuesday, an organization which has very close ties to the Conservatives launched an initial salvo at the Suzuki Foundation.

EthicalOil.org, whose current and past staff include a whose-who of Conservative party insiders, sent a 44 page letter to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) calling for the environmental lobby group's charitable status to be reviewed.

"The CRA clearly states that registered charities are prohibited from engaging in partisan activity and sets very strict rules for political activity," a press release from Ethical Oil notes.

"With 12 registered lobbyists, the David Suzuki Foundation has more lobbyists on staff than most government relations firms. Charities are supposed to do charitable work: feed the poor, take care of the sick, and fund life-saving advancements in medicine."

Despite Suzuki's resignation from the Foundation's Board of Directors earlier this month, Ethical Oil argues that actions like the group's frequent condemnation of government policy are signs that the Foundation is a political organization and not a charity.

James Boothroyd, director of communications for the Suzuki Foundation, says he's not surprised by this latest attack.

"We are proud of the work we do at the David Suzuki Foundation, especially given the overwhelming support we receive from people all across Canada. We also take great care to ensure that we operate within the guidelines of the Canada Revenue Agency and that we are transparent in our financial records," he said in written statement sent to Yahoo! Canada News.

"It is not surprising that Ethical Oil, a front group for the tar sands industry, would like to see the David Suzuki Foundation lose its charitable status. We see this as part of a sustained campaign to silence Canada's environmental voices."