Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Who Payed for Gregor?

Gregor Robertson and the Vision team in their flurry of daily announcements included the other day the list of contributors to Robertson’s mayoral campaign.

It is no doubt honest and true.

But it hardly tells the story.

Dig deep enough – and why hasn’t any Vancouver journalist done this? – and you will learn that Robertson is backed by a very curious group of strongly interwoven people, all of the same stripe, all of the same background and inclinations, many sharing corporate affiliations, many Americans, and all with a special take on the world.

Each of the persons named below and each of the corporations or non-profits are all inter-linked. They all know each other well. They all are principals in same or linked companies. They can all be “Googled,” with the most interesting results. They have similar lives and apparently similar dreams and goals.

It is the latter that should concern Vancouver voters. Their Yellow Brick Road will cost you dearly.

Gregor Robertson’s main financial support comes from a group of people, many American citizens, starting with Joel Solomon. Solomon, originally from Tennessee, has just become a Canadian citizen. He is the money and the brains behind Happy Planet Foods. He is Vice-Chair of Tides Canada Foundation, chair of the board of Hollyhock Retreat, involved with IMPACS, The Tyee, Pivot Foundation, Pivot Legal Society, and The Endswell Foundation, among others.

He and Carol Newell are Founders of Renewal Partners. Newell is the heir to the U.S. Rubbermaid Co. fortune.

Robertson has received help (funding? cash?) from the following American citizens:

Andrew Beath, Founder, Earthways Foundation, Malibu, California; Gary Hirshberg, Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt, Londonderry, New Hampshire; Paulette Cole, ABC Home and Planet Foundation, Manhattan, New York; Allan & Marion Hunt-Badiner, San Francisco; and Dr. Andrew Weil (bearded Oprah guru), Tucson, Arizona, among others.

Another key player is a man named Drummond Pike, who is the Founder and CEO of Tides USA. Tides provides fiscal sponsorship for over 200 non-profit projects across the US, launches and operates green non-profit centres and has granted more than $500 million dollars since 2000 alone.

Pike could be the poster boy for all of these folks. He lives in Mill Valley, California and describes himself as “a licensed commercial river guide in the Grand Canyon and is an amateur wine maker. He is also an avid runner and squash player.”

In other words, he is fabulous and wonderful.

Everyone I have mentioned is fabulous and wonderful. They are almost all enormously wealthy.

Their public presentation is all about giving and philanthropy. Their private reality is money, real estate, power and more money.

They have almost all been criticized and scrutinized for laundering money from one donor or charity to another, often without much question about results or accountability.

They are all ardent believers in the mantra of the “triple bottom line.” This hot paradigm, this vogue of the privileged class, calls for corporations to focus on “people, planet & profits.” You not only have to make money, you have to have happy employees and green goals and processes. If your CEO or chief administrative assistant wants to take a few weeks off in the middle of sensitive negotiations, that's cool. Because we want everyone to be happy.

Here’s the triple headed problem.

Why is support for Gregor Robertson’s run at the Vancouver Mayor’s Chair coming from rich Americans? If Ladner or Campbell before him had the backing of rich Texas right wing fundamentalist arms manufacturers, can you imagine the stink?

What do these people and Robertson really want?

I’ll take a guess.

They want to use public money to further their special social goals.

For example, yesterday, approaching and cashing in on Remembrance Day in the most cynical way, the Vision team announced that they wanted to insure that City Hall would be working on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Canadian Veterans.

City Hall? Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

This is a Health issue and therefore the complete purview of the Federal and Provincial Governments. The City has no role in such an issue, nor should it.

And as you know, we've done such a great job at the city level with addictions, mental health and homelessness.

But, if Robertson and his crew win on Saturday – as they surely will – watch for the onslaught of 1001 new social engineering programs. Watch for the marriage of city coffers and time and energies with some familiar non-profits and foundations.

As surely as George W. Bush has been widely acknowledged to be the puppet of known and unknown masters like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Halliburton et al, Gregor Robertson is the pretty face of a movement led by wealthy ideologues, living in the shadows.

They are determined to change the world, one kumbaya moment after another. Which would be their prerogative, except that they are making a play to use your money.


Anonymous said...

Excellent research David.

Now for Ladner's partial list? Will he tell us how much money he raised before Vancouver's antiquated election laws required he do any sort of accounting.


Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God.

Anonymous said...

I want to retch.
City hall to work on post traumatic stress disorder for our vets?
My father had PTSD (called something completely different after the war - lack of moral fibre!!! according to the military)
I wish he could have been treated by doctors, supported by the military and helped to live a life that was not a downhill road.
I sure as "----" would not have wanted him to be supported by a City that can't even seem to fill in the potholes on our streets.
Aren't other people as sick and tired as I am of politicians who promise to solve every problem in the City,for that matter the world?
No wonder the trust level is going down,down,down.


Anonymous said...

The problem with politics is money, the same can be said of the NPA and most other civic organizations. What is needed is strict financial constraints on candidates and political organizations.

Say, no one candidate can spend $10,000 on a civic campaign, which would mean little or no TV advertising and much more door knocking.

Anonymous said...


I hope you realize that you've completely fallen off your rocker. Yesterday you're accusing a council candidate of psychopathy and today your framing a villainous conspiracy of citizens who have done nothing wrong except prove that ideals that benefit everyone can be translated into concrete actions. Totally bizarre,

and BTW, what's with that font size?

Anonymous said...

This is nothing more than an anti-American diatribe aimed at smearing
Gregor and his campaign. Shame.

Why don't you investigate Geller's financial backers, or Ladner's or Anton's or Kapripants (representative of the persistently vacuous)? Why don't you try for some objective journalism for a change?

I note you claim to have 50 years experience in addictions--since age 15? Have you forgotten all those years you spent in Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver as a radio voice? And you seem to think you have a degree in psychiatry or psychology, so you can erroneously diagnose Kerry Jang? Time to give it a rest, David. Go visit friends in Winnipeg--rediscover your roots.

Anonymous said...

I'm stunned after looking, albeit briefly at all the links you posted. This needs to be "out there" - radio, TV, journalists (where are the journalists?).

Scary stuff. Two phrases particularly gave me the shivers....

"spiritual depth and passionate engagement in public...." etc. Retreats and the like? My head is spinning. *Whose definition of "spiritual" and societal change? This type of stuff scares me, just as the PNAC (Project For A New American Century) document did.

And this...."Drummond's message: I can hide any amount of money I want and you can't find it. "

Just heard that we now have the police involved in an investigation of City Hall and the snatched document....

Someone has to get all of this out in the open.

Pelalusa said...

In the same way that one can be certain that the clock will show 12:00 twice per day, there is an absolute guarantee that if you dare criticize Gregor Robertson that many on the Radical Left will crawl out from under their rocks (and not surprisingly, often anonymously) to spew their venom and ABSOLUTELY IGNORE WHAT YOU'RE SAYING.

I'm going to link to your post and forward it to every possible Vancouver voter I know.

theUGLYchinesecanadian said...

You may also want to google "Sanitarium", an Australian company, and search for "Happy Planet"

keith said...

David, the more you diss Mister Cute, the more NPA cockroaches appear.
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

"I'm going to link to your post and forward it to every possible Vancouver voter I know."

Heck....Send it to news talk radio stations (Yeah I know, haha)and the few good investigative journalists we have here..

Thinking members of the public need to know about this.

Dave C. said...


Finally got this blogging business sorted out (I hope). Not being familiar with the history of local politics, I usually hesitate to comment on your pithy comments as I'm sure they are well-founded. I did wonder though why you would take umbrage with entrepreneurs burdened with a social conscience. Until I checked the link to Mr. Pike. Bragging about his ability to launder money sounds a bit arrogant, and therefore dangerous, but perhaps that is how he reconciles his lifestyle with his politics. Readers with a background in family dynamics might think that Mr. Pike's bio would make a great case study. I would title it "Pike's Pique".

Anonymous said...

This is not about being anti-American. It is about the influence of foreign nationals in the affairs of our city.

Ladner has released his list of donors. Go ahead and read through it all. They are the people that usually donate to campaigns here in Vancouver, and they are locals.

Just imagine if Pat Robertson and a host of fundamentalists were sending cheques to Peter Ladner's campaign. What would people say to that?

Now look at Gregor's list. Not American Christian fundamentalists, but followers of a New Age philosphy. And for the most part current and former US residents.

We're ready to roll over and let our American friends elect our next mayor. What a sad day for Vancouver.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Americans have long been a positive force in Vancouver's civic politics and activism. The locals were often hamstrung by colonial timidity and lack of will and ambition. There is an ugly and alarmist tone to this piece despite the fact that the Hollyhock et al crowd are often smug and righteous.
So show a better way, NPA...if you can. But I doubt it. It's business as usual for them.

Anonymous said...

Look into why Gregor really left Happy Planet....there's a nightmare lurking there.

Anonymous said...

Americans have indeed been influential, particularly on the left wing side of the spectrum. In the cases you allude to they have most often moved here to become citizens.

The Americans supporting Gregor live abroad. Do any of them have the slightest idea what local issues are?

Don't make excuses for what is bald-faced influence peddling at City Hall.

Pelalusa said...

I simply can't let this comment go without a response: "Actually, Americans have long been a positive force in Vancouver's civic politics and activism. The locals were often hamstrung by colonial timidity and lack of will and ambition."

This writer clearly has the spinning power to fly Dorothy and Toto from Kansas to Oz!

Such incredible hypocrisy. Just imagine if a bunch of Texas oil billionaires or Christian fundamentalists decided they wanted to dramatically influence Vancouver politics. COPE and Vision advocates would be screaming to the rafters ... and they'd be CORRECT for doing so.

But because this money comes from Left leaning Americans, somehow it's "okay"?!? Give me a break!!!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the police investigation will pick up on this most interesting financial backer list while investigating the "missing document" case. Seems to me they should be investigating backers to all political parties re someone being set up etc. Let's hope so.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that this all seems a bit paranoid. And, egad, imagine people challenging the prevailing economic orthodoxy by positing a triple bottom line! How dare they promote business that is good for the wallet, the environment, and the people!

And as for this:

"They have almost all been criticized and scrutinized for laundering money from one donor or charity to another, often without much question about results or accountability."

Would you care to substantiate these charges, David?

That said, this alleged thing with Vision and PTSD is, well, a bit nutty. I have deep admiration for our vets, but most Canadians would agree that it's just not appropriate for City Hall to address this.

Anonymous said...

I hope David allows this on his blog. I have for the past two years been on a quest to get Storyeum to become a homeless shelter for the street homeless. I decided to run for Council after being told by the Carnegie Centre and everyone else in the DTES that no organization would support it as they all want housing first. People are dying on the streets and these self righteous groups are complicit in this crime. The election is on Saturday and being an independent I have had no voice. The political party machines control it all. Ladner is on record saying he does not want shelters and Gregor's position depends on the last person he has talked to. His new consulting process will just keep the problem on the street. Storyeum can be opened with a turn of a key and can be operational just as quickly. See my blog:

Chris said...

I think your tin hat is on too tight.

It's Lander that receives most of his money from large donars. Gregor has more smaller donors (like myself) who is helping fund his campaign.

Anonymous said...

lets face it they all need to find the big money to support their political campaign, that is the way politics work. little independents do not get elected unless they are given a lot of free media from the big media companies. so it comes down to the lesser of 2 evils or just a change. we need a change. i don't support the whole vision team, but i'm tired of the same old, including peter. we already know that the npa, cope and vision lie about stuff, so lets see how gregor does as a leader, if he really does have that kind of financial support behind him.

come to that, i would like to see a REAL change, like a balance of power with some independents elected. there are some very high quality integral people running on the independent, that everyone ignores because they are not running with a political party and that stupid name, "workless" is not gaining their candidates enough credibility in this work ethic protestant canadian milieu.

they don't get invited or asked to participate in the debates which is insane, if we need real electoral reform, we need to get used to having people specializing in local issues, so we get things done. there is nothing being done about the homeless situation because it has become a political football in a game where the loser is always children living in poverty and the homeless, with sometimes the two together.

i can tell you that i am determined to get to the bottom of this and when i find out who it is that is sitting on their ass, i am going to kick it.

Luke McKeehan said...

don't you live in West Van David?

this is not your election.

and let's look at Ladner's list while we're at it.

it's pretty sick what you're doing here.

the number one issue is HOMELESSNESS IN THIS CITY

why don't you talk about that and come down here and get involved.

I bet you don't publish this

David Berner said...

Dear Luke,

I live in Vancouver and I voted last Wednesday in an advance poll for Peter Ladner for mator and a mix of NPA, Vision and independant candidates for council, school trustee and park commisioner.

I've done way more than talk about homelessness, LUke.

I spent 10 years of my life bringing people from Main and Hastings to clean and sober homes and lives.My work continues without me 40 years later.

Have a good weekend and enjoy the birth of what will be the worst council in city history.

And, by the way, if you live in vancouver and if you have any tax-paying money, watch it fly out the door once the New Social Engineers get their hands on it.

That will go nicely with the millions of wasted dollars already mispent on the DTES.

Linda said...

Hi Mr. Berner,
I'd be very grateful if when you use my photos (Jang, Solomon), and please continue to do so freely, you would be kind enough to give an attribution with a link to

I took that photograph of Joel the morning he became a Canadian citizen.

I'm wondering at what point Americans who become Canadian citizens gain equal footing in the political process, or if duo citizenship, or American birth disqualifies Canadian citizens from equal participation in the society, in your mind

Are there different degrees of being Canadian?

Dumbassvancouvervoter said...

Yay, David! I wish I had seen this post two weeks ago...what a shame.

David Berner said...

Dear Linda Solomon,

Of course, you are determined to obscure the issue.

I have made no comment, nor do I infer one, about degrees of citizenship.

As far as I'm concernd any man, woman or child - oh, excuse me - woman, child or man, who arrives in Canada from anywhere and contributes in any way whatsoever that is positive and obeys the laws is already an exemplary Canadian citizen.

But I didn't write about citizenship, did I?

I wrote about people with a Plan.

No doubt we don't agree on the Plan or the potential impact of the Plan.