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Updated: 10 hours 53 min ago

David Suzuki Foundation applauds federal government's review of Canadian charities and political activities

Thu, 2017/05/04 - 11:00am

OTTAWA (May 4, 2017) -- In 2012, the federal government provided resources to the Canada Revenue Agency to review how Canadian charities were conducting political activities. These activities relate to how charitable organizations communicate about government law, policies or decisions -- as opposed to partisan activities, which are not permitted.

One outcome of the 2012 initiative was that the Canada Revenue Agency initiated a series of political activity audits of charities. The David Suzuki Foundation was among those chosen for an audit, which was completed in early 2016.

In late 2016, the new federal government initiated a consultation process aimed at clarifying the rules governing political activities undertaken by charities, and appointed a five-person panel to review the consultation feedback and make recommendations to government about how to move forward. David Suzuki Foundation CEO Peter Robinson was appointed to the panel. DSF was the only organization represented on the panel that had experienced an audit, and was able to bring our experience to the process.

Today, the government released the report, which calls on the federal government to:

  • Revise the CRA's administrative position and policy to enable charities to fully engage in public policy dialogue and development.
    Implement changes to the CRA's administration of the Income Tax Act regarding compliance and appeals, audits and communication and collaboration to enhance clarity and consistency.
  • Amend the Income Tax Act by deleting any reference to non-partisan "political activities" to explicitly allow charities to fully engage, without limitation, in non-partisan public policy dialogue and development, provided those activities are subordinate to and further their charitable purposes.
  • Modernize the legislative framework governing the charitable sector to ensure a focus on charitable purposes rather than activities, and adopt an inclusive list of acceptable charitable purposes to reflect current social and environmental issues and approaches.

"We are pleased that the government is taking this issue seriously," Robinson said. "The ability of Canadian charities to speak out on issues of public policy and legislation is critical to a healthy democracy. We are also honoured that the David Suzuki Foundation was involved in providing strong recommendations to government about the role of charities in conducting political activities in Canada."

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For more information, please contact:

Brendan Glauser
David Suzuki Foundation

Executive director of Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières Canada named CEO of David Suzuki Foundation

Tue, 2017/05/02 - 1:48pm

VANCOUVER, B.C. (May 2, 2017) -- The David Suzuki Foundation announced today the appointment of a new chief executive officer. Stephen Cornish, executive director of Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières Canada, will join the Foundation on November 1. He succeeds Peter Robinson, who served as the Foundation's CEO for almost a decade, creating a strong national organization operating in both English and French.

"Joining the David Suzuki Foundation is an amazing opportunity," Cornish said. "Over my career, I've been driven by the need to reduce suffering and to contribute toward social and environmental progress. This iconic Canadian organization truly has the power to affect significant change in this country, and well beyond."

Cornish joins the Foundation after five years as executive director of MSF, where he led tremendous change, including overseeing strategic growth by improving public recognition of MSF in Canada, growing the number of staff by 40 per cent to support field operations globally, and increasing revenue generating activities by 76 per cent. He has also held senior leadership positions with CARE Canada and the Canadian Red Cross, and was named one of the top 30 charity CEOs on social media in 2016. Cornish has been at the front lines of crises throughout the world, problem solving under intense pressure.

Cornish is a board member of Youth Challenge International and an honorary board member of Canadian Physicians for the Environment. He holds a BA High Honours from Carleton University plus a master's degree in Global Risk and Crisis Management from Université de la Sorbonne, and is fluent in French and Spanish.

David Suzuki, who co-founded the Foundation with his wife Tara Cullis, is delighted by the appointment. "When we created the David Suzuki Foundation more than 25 years ago, we did so on the principle of interconnectedness. Just as diversity in nature is crucial for our survival, so it is within an organization, within a movement. We feel proud the Foundation is able to attract the kind of talent that Stephen demonstrates. The issues facing us are more grave than ever and we need the continuity of strong leadership."

Cornish's immediate priorities as incoming CEO include strengthening the campaign for a Federal Environmental Bill of Rights, promoting community-based renewable energy initiatives, deepening relationships with Indigenous peoples and protecting biodiversity.

"The David Suzuki Foundation Board of Directors is pleased that Stephen has accepted this opportunity," Board Chair Peter Ladner said. "He possesses the full range of skills necessary for a smooth transition into the next chapter of the Foundation's story. It's vital to have someone of Stephen's calibre guiding the organization toward its urgent environmental impact goals."

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Tracey Friesen, Director of Communications & Engagement
David Suzuki Foundation
(778) 772 3401

Health Canada's glyphosate evaluation flawed, environmental groups charge

Tue, 2017/05/02 - 10:12am

Widespread use of world's most extensively sold pesticide continues, despite international concerns about health and ecological risks

OTTAWA - April 28, 2017 -- Health Canada has dismissed credible evidence in its re-evaluation of the world's most extensively sold pesticide, glyphosate, in today's decision to continue its registration in Canada.

Glyphosate is infamous as the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, and is now used in hundreds of other herbicides manufactured by many of the largest agrichemical companies.

"The widespread use of glyphosate is contaminating the environment and the food we eat," said Louise Hénault-Éthier, science projects manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. "Research shows that glyphosate is persistent and that buffer zones are not necessarily effective in preventing run-off to streams. Furthermore, nearly a third of our food contains glyphosate, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency."

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans." Many researchers also consider glyphosate-based herbicides as potential endocrine disruptors.

Glyphosate also has a role in the precipitous decline of monarch butterfly populations. Widespread use of glyphosate has virtually eradicated milkweed in corn- and soy-growing regions of North America. Milkweed is the sole food source for monarch larvae.

"Glyphosate is used in more than 180 pest control products in Canada, combined with other chemicals such as surfactants and sometimes other pesticides, yet Health Canada fails to consider the cumulative effects," said Elaine MacDonald, program director of Healthy Communities at Ecojustice.

"We are concerned with the changes to the labelling restrictions on glyphosate announced today," said Annie Berube, director of government relations at Équiterre. "Health Canada recognizes there are risks to using glyphosate that warrant those labelling changes, but the burden cannot be on users to manage the risks of using glyphosate by following instructions on labels. It is incumbent upon Health Canada to protect Canadians' health and our environment, and pesticide labels alone are insufficient."

The European Commission has recommended restricting certain uses of glyphosate and is expected to revisit its approval of the pesticide later this year.

Équiterre, Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation are calling on Health Canada to reconsider its evaluation, and restrict the use of glyphosate based on evidence of harm. The groups are also urging the federal government to recognize the monarch butterfly as an endangered species under the federal Species at Risk Act, in accordance with the recent assessment of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). They are also calling for restrictions on glyphosate use in monarch habitats.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Manon Dubois
David Suzuki Foundation

Dale Roberston

Dr. Elaine MacDonald
416-368-7533 ext. 527