BREAKING: Head of federal green 'slush fund' resigns

A senior federal official said the government has lost 'confidence' in senior management at Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). A whistleblower filed a complaint earlier this year concerning their alleged mismanagement of public funds.

BREAKING: Head of federal green 'slush fund' resigns
Facebook/Annette Verschuren
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The head of Ottawa’s green ‘slush fund’ has abruptly resigned amid mounting criticism faced by the group.

Leah Lawrence, president and CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) departed the foundation following recent controversy that has the organization in a downward spiral.

"Given recent media reports, House of Commons committee testimony, and the surrounding controversy, it is clear there has been a sustained and malicious campaign to undermine my leadership," Lawrence penned in a letter to her board of directors.

"This compromises my future ability to lead the organization and puts me in an untenable situation. And I want to see this organization succeed," she claimed.

As first reported by CBC, assistant deputy minister to Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED), Doug McConnachie, said the feds have lost "confidence" in the fund’s senior management.

A whistleblower with the foundation sent the federal government a complaint earlier this year concerning their alleged mismanagement of funds.

Under its current agreement with the ISED, the green fund has $1 billion to distribute to clean tech enterprises between 2021 and 2026 — increasing in successive amounts before maxing at $320 million by 2025/26.

In response to the complaint, the federal government hired Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton to identify conflicts of interest and problematic spending within the foundation.

Auditor General Karen Hogan also announced an investigation into its spending last week.

In addition, SDTC chair Annette Verschuren testified before MPs Wednesday, who condemned the bureaucrat for approving $217,000 in COVID relief funding to her own firm in 2020 — one of roughly 140 firms that received equivalent pandemic funding.

Verschuren did not recuse herself from the vote and claimed to have acted on the legal opinion of her lawyer. 

"I took the advice from my lawyer," she told MPs on the committee. "I received legal advice and I think that was the proper approach."

This is a developing story.

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