The Tides Canada logo, as seen on their facebook page.
OTTAWA - Tides Canada, which funds environmental and social causes, has gone on a charm offensive as Canada Revenue Agency audits it and the feds crack down on charities that are overly political.
"We have absolutely nothing to hide and we're profoundly proud of the work that we're doing," Tides Canada president Ross McMillan said in a Toronto speech Wednesday, though his openness didn't include meeting the media afterward.
In his speech, McMillan tried to counter accusations Tides Canada is too political by using money from foreign foundations to fund anti-oilsands activists.
McMillan said he's seen "absolutely no evidence" his group is political, even while backing federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's claims that Alberta's energy industry is a drain on Canada's economy and praising Alberta Premier Alison Redford's Canadian Energy Strategy.
He also highlighted Tides Canada's social justice funding and released new detail on millions of dollars from American foundations for salmon and forest conservation in B.C., not anti-oilsands activism.
Still, critics were unimpressed.
"They seem to think they can fool Canada by giving cherry-picked information," researcher and blogger Vivian Krause said.
Krause said MacMillan should still explain how $200,000 from the Oak Foundation to push for a low-carbon future and $30,000 from the Bullitt Foundation for "voter engagement" are charitable activities.
"This makes a mockery of Canadians' legitimate concerns about how Tides Canada is trampling on the sovereignty of our country," she said.
Jamie Ellerton, the Tory-connected head of EthicalOil.org, counted 16 foreign donors Tides Canada hasn't been open about.
He also notes the charity still issues tax receipts for donations that end up funding anti-oilsands groups, like Forest Ethics and the Dogwood Initiative.
"Tides Canada can't continue to just gloss over these facts and the reality that they're funding these organizations that are not doing charitable work," Ellerton said.