The Council of Canadians

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The Council of Canadians
Council of Canadians logo.jpg
Typecitizen's organization based in Canada
Legal statusactive
Purposeadvocate and public voice, educator and network
HeadquartersOttawa, Ontario, Canada
Region served
Official language
English, French
Maude Barlow
WebsiteCouncil of Canadians official website

The Council of Canadians is a non-profit environmental activist group with left-leaning principles that advocates for clean water, fair trade, green energy, public health care, and a vibrant democracy.[1] The organization is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario with regional offices in Halifax, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver and a network of local chapters across the country.[2]

While primarily focused on national issues, the Council of Canadians also does international work through its Blue Planet Project,[3] which focuses on the implementation of the human right to water and sanitation.


The Council of Canadians was founded in 1985 in the lead up to the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and North American Free Trade Agreement. The Council later expanded its focus to include campaigns on health care, water, public pensions, corporate influence, and energy.[4]

The Council was created by Mel Hurtig. The founding members included Margaret Atwood, David Suzuki, Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton, Margaret Laurence, several politicians and other prominent Canadians.[5] The Council of Canadians is currently chaired by Maude Barlow, who is best known internationally for her work on water-related issues.[6]

In 2012, $202,000 was transferred from the Council of Canadians to the Maude Barlow Social Justice Fund Account.[7][8]

The Council publishes a magazine called Canadian Perspectives, which is published twice a year.[9]


For the 2011-2012 fiscal year the Council received 92 percent of its funding from members and supporters who gave an average of $54.59.[10] An additional seven percent of the annual budget came from foundation grants.[11]

The Council of Canadians receives no money from governments or corporations, however it makes no such claims regards funding it receives from organizations such as labour unions or environmental activist groups.[1]

Funding controversy[edit]

On April 14, 2014 a report by Sun News Network accused the Council of Canadians of receiving money from American-based organizations to oppose Canadian energy projects.[12] The Council of Canadians responded on its website, stating "We accept no corporate donations, no political contributions, and no government funding."[13]


Due to its overt political activities, the Council of Canadians does not qualify as a registered charity in Canada.[14]

In 2011, the Council of Canadians backed a lawsuit brought by a group of voters against the Conservative Party of Canada over the 2011 Canadian federal election voter suppression scandal. Ultimately the voters lost the lawsuit and decided not to appeal the decision to a higher court.[15]

In September 2016 the organization launched a boycott of Nestlé in response to the company outbidding a small town aiming to secure a long-term water supply through a local well, stressing the need for bottled water industry reform as the country battles drought and depletion of ground water reserves.[16][17][18][19]

The Council of Canadians will frequently advocate on behalf of unions, such as the British Columbia Teachers' Federation, involved in labour disputes.[20]

Brent Patterson is the Political Director for The Council of Canadians.[21]

Civil disobedience[edit]

On November 20, 2014 Brigette DePape, a Vancouver-based organizer with the Council of Canadians, was arrested with over fourteen others by the RCMP at Burnaby Mountain while protesting against Texas-based Kinder Morgan over the company's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. The protestors were arrested for "civil contempt” of a court order permitting the company's pipeline survey work.[22] All charges were subsequently dismissed.[23]


  1. ^ a b "About Us | The Council of Canadians". Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  2. ^ "Chapter contacts | The Council of Canadians". Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  3. ^ "Blue Planet Project". Blue Planet Project. 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  4. ^ "History | The Council of Canadians". Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  5. ^ "Formation of the Council of Canadians". 1985-03-11. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  6. ^ "Maude Barlow". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  7. ^ "Annual Report" (PDF). The Council of Canadians. Spring 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Maude Barlow Social Justice Fund". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Canadian Perspectives". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Ezra Levant questions source of Council donations". 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  11. ^ "2012 Annual Report to Members" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  12. ^ "Sun News : Council of Canadians likes American dollars". Archived from the original on February 13, 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Ezra Levant questions source of Council donations". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Join the Council of Canadians in acting for social justice - The Council of Canadians". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  15. ^ "Robocalls case won't be appealed to Supreme Court". 31 May 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  16. ^ "Petition calls on Canadians to boycott Nestlé over water grab". USA TODAY. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  17. ^ "Wynne wants new rules for bottled water industry after Nestle outbids town | Toronto Star". The Star. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  18. ^ "'Everyone should care' about bottled water, teen says at rally against Nestlé permit". CBC News. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  19. ^ "People are furious at Nestlé for taking over small town's water supply". Business Insider Deutschland. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  20. ^ "The Council of Canadians". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  21. ^ "Council of Canadians marks 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  22. ^ "Dramatic arrest of Kinder Morgan protesters met with defiance and pride (VIDEOS)". The Vancouver Observer. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  23. ^

Further reading[edit]

Archival holdings[edit]

External links[edit]