Letter from Andy Stillman
We are not a political group. We are fiercely non-political. When politics enters the conversations, the Stillman Foundation exits.
But when media stories emerged about the charity and its founders in the summer of 2020, I was surprised and confused. The characterizations of the organization and the Kielburgers were completely different than any experience I had personally or through my family’s foundation.
I needed to find out the truth.
That’s why in the Fall of 2020, I hired top-rated, non-partisan investigators and forensic accountants, including Matt Torigian, former Deputy Solicitor General for the province of Ontario, and forensic accountant Dr. Al Rosen, who has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Their job was to conduct detailed reviews and see if there was any truth to the seemingly implausible allegations.
Their reviews included over 5,000 pages released by the federal government, and nearly 400 documents released by WE Charity, as well as a full forensic audit of WE Charity’s finances and that of the social enterprise ME to WE that funds the charity.
You can read the full reports and their findings. But simply put, there was no funny business, everything was on the up and up as I had always suspected. This has been confirmed again and again by the Federal Ethics Commissioner, other independent reports, and even in the media.
In addition to the reports that I commissioned, over two years WE Charity withstood possibly the most extensive diligence review that any charity has ever undergone. Politicians controlling multiple Parliamentary committees as well as reporters across Canada devoted massive resources and energy to use WE Charity as a pawn in politics. They found nothing improper.
In fact, the nonpartisan Ethics Commissioner concluded that WE Charity was selected to administer a nationwide microgrants program because of its qualifications and expertise, not because of any favoritism.
Let me repeat: We are not a political group. But the attack on WE Charity’s was the result of a political power struggle.
After a year of independent reviews, what came to light was that the whole affair was nothing more than a politically-motivated hoax, driven by politicians eager to take shots at the government through attacks on WE, while being amplified for months by the media.
But it wasn’t just politicians acting irresponsibly. Much of the media coverage was based on inaccurate and unethical reporting, largely highlighted by the actions of the CBC’s Fifth Estate.
The CBC’s coverage was particularly harmful for WE Charity’s work in the United States, where the charity remains active. In a series of stories by the Fifth Estate, the CBC created a false narrative that donors were misled about how their funds were being used.
As long time donors and supporters, we were outraged at the CBC’s coverage and over 150 of us signed an open letter to CBC management. But again, we were ignored.
To their credit, WE Charity eventually realized it had no other choice but to sue the CBC due to its ongoing, false and defamatory coverage. The case remains before the American courts. On this website, you will see a side of the WE Charity affair that you likely have not seen before.
Most importantly, you will hear from the people harmed by the actions of unethical journalists and unscrupulous politicians: the teachers in Canada whose voices were ignored during the media witch-hunt and political assassination of the organization and its founders; the children and artisan women in Africa and Ecuador who lost their livelihoods or chance at a formal education when WE Charity was forced closed; the voices that were ignored because they didn’t feed into the false narrative created by politicians and reporters.
You will also see excerpts from the bestselling book What WE Lost: Inside the Attack on Canada’s Largest Children’s Charity, by Tawfiq Rangwala —an accomplished lawyer and former WE Charity board member—who conducted detailed research and interviews on the political controversy. Even for me, the book was revealing and devastating.
This website shows the other side of the story that existed in the media for two years. What you will see should serve as a cautionary tale to us all.
In the climate of false news and cancel culture, the media – fueled by self-interested and deceptive politicians – can in a matter of months destroy a charity that helped millions around the world for 25 years.
I hope you will listen to the voices of those who were ignored and canceled to learn the real harms that were done to those WE Charity supported. It is time their voices were heard, and the real story is put on the record once and for all.