A Canadian Taxpayers Federation Report by Derek Fildebrandt:
Using Freedom of Information requests, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has uncovered documents (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3and Part 4) showing that the City of Calgary has provided $340,656 to an environmentalist advocacy group/think tank, the Pembina Institute. A majority of the taxpayer funding was to support ‘professional fees’ for communications, disbursements, greenhouse gas offsets and preparing reports.
What these reports were specifically about, we don’t know, but we can take good guess.
The funding was provided over a three-year period, averaging $113,552 in taxpayers’ cash a year.
The Pembina Institute – like the Fraser Institute – is a think-rank that frequently gets involved in important political debates. That’s a good thing, so long as groups involved in political debates aren’t being pumped full of taxpayers’ cash.
One can just imagine the outcry if the City of Calgary paid the Fraser Institute to write a report on building a competitive business environment or property tax reform. The contents of the report might contain excellent data and recommendations, but that is to miss the point. Groups engaged in political debate – even the non-partisan – should never receive a penny of taxpayer’s cash.
The CTF for its part has never taken a dollar of government funding in its history. We don’t even issue charity tax receipts. People give to the CTF because they believe in our organization. That’s it.
The Pembina Institute does some work that we could support on various environmental issues. Some of their positions – like support for a carbon tax – we obviously find disagreeable. But that’s not the point.
They are a group engaged in political debate, and any group that wades into the political arena should fund itself, without the help of taxpayers.
The Pembina Institute should do the ethical thing, and return this money to the already overburdened taxpayers of Calgary.
The City of Calgary should pass a clear and unambiguous by-law banning the funding of any political advocacy group or think-tank.
Candidates for City Council should also state where they stand on the matter.
Click here to see the CTF’s FOIP documents documents.