More than any other initiative in the 2012 federal budget, the one that struck a chord with Canadians is $8-million for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to require greater transparency from non-profits with regard to their political activity and foreign funding. An Angus Reid poll found that 80% of Canadians support this move. Environmentalists, however, feel that they’re being picked on.
David Suzuki has dismissed the focus on U.S. funding “twisted logic” and “a conspiracy theory.” Further, in an open letter sent last week, Mr. Suzuki, Canada’s foremost environmentalist, suggested that his foundation is being “bullied.” He also announced that he has stepped off the board of his foundation. “I want to speak freely without fear that my words will be deemed too political,” he wrote.
It stands to reason that David Suzuki would defend his funding. After all, he built his foundation with millions of U.S. dollars. Back in 2000, more than half of the Suzuki foundation’s budget was covered by U.S. foundations. The U.S. share has dropped dramatically since, from 52% in 2000 to 5% in 2010. Still, according to my calculations, over the past decade U.S. foundations accounted for at least 17% of the revenue of the David Suzuki Foundation. In correspondence for this article, the foundation did not dispute these numbers.