The David Suzuki Foundation has registered in B.C. as a lobbyist intending to meet with Premier Christy Clark, cabinet ministers and government employees to discuss a range of environmental issues.
Documents filed with the B.C. Lobbyists Registry also show that the Suzuki Foundation has received funding from a foreign source – the British High Commission donated $39,999.
Federal cabinet ministers have recently criticized environmental groups that they said were using foreign money to finance campaigns on domestic issues, such as opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the B.C. coast. The federal budget this spring announced a crackdown on enforcement of restrictions on political activities and increased reporting requirements.
Peter Robinson, chief executive officer for the environmental organization, said Thursday the Suzuki Foundation is involved in research and education, not political activity.
“[The meetings with government]exclusively relates to the kinds of research we do,” he said. “We work with departments in government on issues related to many things they are working on – climate issues, energy issues, marine issues.
“It does not involve me going and doing any lobbying as we might traditionally deem it, where I go in and close the door with the Premier and say, ‘I’d like you to do this.’ That is not the nature of what we do,” Mr. Robinson said.
The foundation is involved in “ongoing work of connecting with ministers and deputy ministers and research scientists in the ministries,” he said.
Funds from the British High Commission were for an education program within the multicultural community on the low-carbon economy and climate change, Mr. Robinson said. The funds, which accounted for about 0.5 per cent of the organization’s annual operating budget of $8-million, were not related to lobbying, he said. Around five to six per cent of the foundation’s budget comes from outside Canada, he added.
The Suzuki Foundation registered Mr. Robinson and seven others as lobbyists. The list of environmental issues to be discussed with legislators include a ban on cosmetic pesticides, suspension of grizzly bear hunting in parks, a province-wide network of grizzly bear management areas, protection of species at risk, salmon farms and oil-tanker traffic.