Tories slam Suzuki, Grits rise to his defence

David Suzuki (QMI AGENCY PHOTO)

David Suzuki (QMI AGENCY PHOTO)

Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 12:26 PM ET

OTTAWA - Conservative senators are telling David Suzuki to toughen up after the environmental activist’s charity lashed out at some of its critics this week.

“He strikes me as a little thin-skinned in this respect,” said Senator Doug Finley. “He’s never been shy about going flat out with full rhetoric on Canadian politicians, as I say, even to the point of saying they should be jailed.” In 2008, Suzuki told Montreal students he wished for “a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail” for ignoring global warming.

In a continuing Senate inquiry, Conservative Senator Doug Finley has accused environmental charities of “selfishly slanting Canadian domestic policies” ¬ especially around the oilsands - through $300 million in funding from foreign foundations over 10 years.

The David Suzuki Foundation hit back with a form letter campaign, sending upwards of 8,000 e-mails to senators denouncing “immature rhetoric.” Senator Jim Cowan, the Liberal leader in the Senate, backs the Foundation.

“To just kind of have this drive-by smear of charities with whom the government doesn’t agree is just a dangerous, dangerous way to go,” Cowan said.

Rhetoric aside, Finley says his goal is to see a bill introduced to require all charities, not just environmental ones, publicly disclose full details of “where the (foreign) money originates, how it’s transferred through, and the manner in which it’s used.” That idea might get Grit support.

“On the face of it, it doesn’t seem to me to be an unreasonable thing to do,” Cowan said.

Even the David Suzuki Foundation doesn’t reject the idea outright.

“We fully support greater transparency on this issue and believe the Senate may instead want to turn (its) attention to the fact that corporations do not have similar reporting requirements,” Foundation spokeswoman Leanne Clare said.

The Senate debate on foreign funding of politically active charities continues next week.

 


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