Craig, left, and Marc Kielburger at a We Day event. (Canadian Press photo)

Column: ‘Old normal’ disheartening in time of opportunity

We Charity muddle the result of manipulation of money in achieving worthwhile goals, says columnist


Polls around the world demonstrate that most people don’t want a return to the ‘old normal.’

Many have used the pandemic’s gift of time to reflect as well as to look after each other. We have experienced the inadequacies of global business systems based on cheapness and exploitation. We are aware that governing elites will resist losing their privileges and that ordinary people stand to lose everything in the process of change. Whether the examples of mutual aid that sprang up everywhere will overcome the old ways remains to be seen.

But we should recognize the We Charity muddle of Trudeaus, Morneaus and Kielburgers as the result of ‘old normal’ manipulation of money as the means to achieve worthwhile goals. Even the goals were diminished.

The Trudeau, Morneau and Kielburger families are entangled in a conflict of their own making as complicated as the organizational complexities that morphed We Charity, Me to We social enterprise and Toronto real estate worth more than $40 million out of young Craig Kielburger’s original Free the Children dream. While the salaries drawn by the co-founding brothers from Me to We are far less than those of most major Canadian charity CEOs, the passage of money to and from each segment of the Kielburger complex must be perplexing to charities directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency, given that the wives of both Craig and Marc are executive employees of the conglomerate, and the donations of the Kielburger parents pass through the social enterprise to the charity, mixed in with real estate acquisitions worth two-thirds of the group’s assets.

Perhaps it’s because Fred and Theresa Kielburger were teachers before they got into renovating and flipping Toronto buildings that the target clientèle of We Charity is schoolchildren. The concept is that change can be effected by influencing the young, who will improve society as adults. Not a very threatening concept to worry teachers or administrators or school boards as much as the forthright Free the Children original.

COLUMN: Vulnerability to global disasters is our own making

Nutritionist Barbara Bray, writing for the prestigious British Nutrition Society, borrows a term from the U.S. military and suggests that the pandemic has made us ‘volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.’ A new normal must be simpler and locally based. Taking the example of food systems, we have seen the food service sector disrupted, industrial farmers forced to dump food supplies with failed distribution lines and people unable to access food without monetary bailouts and local aid. Situations in the impoverished countries shows the onset of widespread starvation.

Bray relates that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is warning of devastating effects on poverty, food security and inequality as it plans new international guidelines which must stress resilient food systems capable of delivering food security with essential nutrition. Wrong decisions and indecisiveness “could lead to increased inequality, hunger and poverty.” She quotes Norman Borlaug (who warned us that his green revolution was a mere stopgap): “the first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind.”

What we don’t need are house flipping, muddled charity or confused government leaders.

Marjorie Stewart is past chairperson of the Nanaimo Foodshare Society. She can be reached at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo RCMP community policing needs a few good volunteers

Volunteers needed to help Nanaimo RCMP and city deliver crime prevention and safety programs

RDN signs deal with Nanaimo Recycling Exchange to conduct waste audits

RDN working on mandatory waste-separation bylaw for industrial, commercial, institutional sectors

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to Nanaimo

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Conservation officers free fawn stuck in fence in Nanaimo

Fawn was uninjured after getting caught in fence in Hammond Bay area Wednesday

Nanaimo resident wins human rights tribunal case over wheelchair accessibility at condo complex

Tribunal awards $35,000, says concerns weren’t addressed until human rights complaint had been lodged

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Nanaimo council gives school district permission to demolish Franklyn Street gym

Heritage alteration permit issued for unused, fire-damaged building

Arson suspected in fire that destroyed Nanaimo second-hand store

RCMP, Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigating early morning fire set at entrance of Townsite Road shop

Most Read