I have posted this blog and also sent it to a Mr. Cam Tait from the Edmonton Journal who runs a blog called Tait Talk where the two blog posts I mention below are published. I've asked to also be a guest blogger offering a counter argument from someone who has dealt with the Rick Hansen foundation for a number of years.
I also urge you to make your own comments directly on the blog posts in question by following the links below.
I have spent two years organising members of the spinal injured community to seek answers from the Rick Hansen Foundation about their real spending on a cure for spinal cord injury, and especially chronic spinal cord injury, and we have never ever been provided with this figure.
We asked about future plans including projects and spending, and were never answered with any numbers. When you can't get an answer to a simple question from an organisation which raises funds for "a world without paralysis after spinal cord injury" people really start to wonder about the financial stewardship of public funds and donations.
I don't think any of us were surprised after reading David Baines' story in the Vancouver Sun pointing out an $8.1 million deficit (at the end of their 2012 financial year), gratuitous self-promotion, and Mr. Hansen's own bloated salary.
What I was surprised by was two blogs written by guest bloggers on Tait Talk run by Cam Tait of the Edmonton Journal.
The first blogger, Ms. Marie Renaud Martin, almost knocked me out of my chair when she talked about Hansen falling short of his fundraising goals.
Falling "short" is one of the biggest understatements I've heard in a long time. They spent 17 to 19 million with a goal of raising 250 million but in the end only 84 million was raised. Well, you may say that they more than quadrupled their initial outlay, but then if you look at this 84 million, you start to see that most of it was simply a renewal of existing funding. In fact, RHF's revenues did not see any significant change pre and post 25th anniversary spending, but instead they are now saddled with a deficit.
So how does Ms. Renaud Martin defend this? She says, "So what?"
Well, Ms. Renaud Martin is very generous in her forgiveness because she states, "He has given his adult life to raising awareness." And then goes on to disparage Baines' article by questioning how much positive impact he has had on the world.
I myself say; so what?
How does this let Rick Hansen get off for his troubling financial stewardship? How much money is he allowed to be off because he is a good guy? I would love Ms. Renaud Martin to supply us with a figure. To her, Rick Hansen's salary is of no concern, so again I would like Ms. Renaud Martin to offer us a salary figure that she would consider to be too high. In fact, Rick Hansen is paid at least $50,000 more than the highest paid charity executive in British Columbia while all other BC charities paid less than $300,000.
The second post written by Ron Plant is even more shocking.
First he questions Baines' motive in writing the article as if there was some deep dark reason for writing the story in the first place, even though Mr. Plant doesn't even suggest what that motive would be. Well, Mr. Plant, that's what investigative reporters do. Should he have written another media/Rick Hansen love fest piece?
But what is most shocking is that Mr. Plant questions Baines' and even your own right to ask for full transparency from this organisation which is funded by tax dollars and private donations.
He asks, "What business is it of David Baines, how the Rick Hansen Foundation is run, or what compensation Rick Hansen receives?" And then goes on to say that Mr. Hansen does not owe the public any explanation.
Wow! Does he know what he saying? That would be like arguing that the current Senate spending scandal has nothing to do with the average taxpayer. Again, Mr. Plant gives Hansen a pass because, "Rick Hansen is a man who has made huge strides in affecting public perception of persons with disabilities." I'm sure that we could get a few people to say good things about the current Prime Minister and then I guess Mr. Plant wouldn't be bothered if Stephen Harper raised his salary to 400 thousand a year.
Both these writers offer no facts, just emotion. They remind me of those who questioned our right to ask for financial information about cure spending. The arguments were the same. Because they had no concrete reasons to challenge our campaign questions for financial transparency, they appealed to simple emotion. In fact, Rick Hansen himself, when asked our questions face to face at a conference, challenged our right to question by basically asking us how much money we have raised. Mr. Hansen and both of the writers forget that the money doesn't spring from some Rick Hansen well, but comes from me and you through taxes and donations.
We all have a right to ask for information about OUR money and money raised in cure's name, and we should never allow emotion to overrule our minds and do what is right when it comes to both money and a cure for spinal cord injury.
To read David Baines’ full article, please click here.
To read a summary with charts of Mr. Baines’ information, please click here.