Bruce Lourie: Canada's Environmental Guru
Parker Gallant, May 9, 2012
An invitation to receive a $100 rebate in a print ad, simply by bringing an old gas powered mower to Home Depot and purchasing a “Eco-Preferred” lawn mower turned into an obsession to find out who was going to pay for that rebate. The ad referred to “Summerhill Impact/A proud partner of The Home Depot”.
It turns out Summerhill Impact (formerly Clean Air Foundation) is a not-for-profit and shares it's name with Summerhill Group a “for profit” and a “charitable” Summerhill Foundation. These three entities are overseen by an “Executive Advisory Board” that includes David O'Brien, retired CEO of Toronto Hydro, Peter Love, Ontario's first Chief Energy Conservation Officer with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and Annette Verschueren, former President of Home Depot Canada. Summerhill Impact lists as partners, these taxpayer funded entities; the Province of Ontario, Health Canada, Environment Canada, Toronto Hydro and the City of Toronto.
Summerhill Impact, or it's predecessor, received funding from Trillium Foundation ($121,000), Toronto Atmospheric Fund ($98,700), Environment Canada ($24,500) and signed a recent contract with Health Canada for $350,000. Without going through the process of a FOI (freedom of information) process one must assume that the Province of Ontario, Toronto Hydro and the City of Toronto have contributed dollars either “in kind” or directly that are somehow connected with that “rebate”.
Two of three Summerhill websites are active but the “Foundation” site was “under construction”. No search capabilities can be found on the sites and no reference to Bruce Lourie appears even though his biography states he is; “a founder of a number of for profit and non-profit organizations including Summerhill Group, a prominent market transformation consultancy in Toronto specializing in energy conservation and renewable energy.“ Lourie is described as “one of Canada's most influential leaders and thinkers in the environment sector.” and listed as “President of The Ivey Foundation, a private charitable foundation focusing on environmental policy change.” His bio also states; “He is a Director of the Ontario Power Authority, a (former) Director of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and Chair of the Board of Environmental Defence Canada”. The latter has Rick Smith as Executive Director who Lourie collaborated with in writing the book, “Slow Death by Rubber Duck.”
Lourie, via the Ivey Foundation, played a significant role in the creation of the Green Energy Act (Act) as a founding member of the Green Energy Act Alliance (GEAA) that lobbied George Smitherman former Minister of Energy & Infrastructure to create the Act. The GEAA was/is still active and their website is listed on many web pages including CanWEA and Environmental Defence, but can't be accessed when a search is conducted. A call to a contact at Environmental Defence seeking clarification as to why the site is no longer available went unanswered.
Lourie's presence on the Boards of both the OPA and Trillium Foundation represents major conflicts as it relates to both the OPA's original mandate to create a long term energy plan for Ontario and a further conflict with the Trillium Foundation's penchant to grant millions of dollars to Lourie related entities, such as Environmental Defence ($943,000), Tides Canada where Lourie sits as an “adviser” ($1,328,300), Clean Air Foundation ($121,000), the Sustainability Network ($997,100), which Lourie also founded and $27,100 to the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network (CEGN) another of Lourie's charitable creations. Lourie has played a role in establishing more then a dozen of these entities in addition to being a named “adviser” to several others including Premier McGuinty's “Climate Change Advisory Panel.”
Summerhill Impact, one of Lourie's premiere creations used a US private sector company's trademark (aimed at US public utility service companies) as a means to construct a rebate program in Canada and this program has earmarks of subsidization by the Canadian taxpayers. This is one of many displays that demonstrate Lourie's success at influencing politicians and bureaucrats; putting him on level that exceeds David Suzuki despite only getting 34,000 hits versus Suzuki's 5 million plus when you do an internet search on the two individuals.
Stay tuned for more insightful information on Bruce Lourie's influence on how he has changed the electricity sector and influenced the thought processes of our politicians in Ontario and the rest of Canada.
Parker Gallant, May 9, 2012
1. Ecopreferred® is a registered trademark used for Public Utility Services and owned by Exelon Corporation, Exelon Ventures Company, LLC.