Politics

Ecklund Picks Up Toys, Goes Home

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 28, 2009

this blog entry has been updated

Local entrepreneur and philanthropist Chris Ecklund was in the news earlier this week after it came up in the city's accountability and transparency subcommittee that two councillors had accepted seats in Ecklund's private box to watch a Ti-Cat game.

Ecklund took the opportunity to discuss his campaign to brand Hamilton as the City of Waterfalls.

Dundas Bookseller Joanna Chapman, who you might remember from her odyssey to have former Mayor Larry Di Ianni held to account for his campaign finance violations in the 2003 municipal election, raised the issue at the subcommittee meeting.

Chapman noted, "someone with money having private access to councillors for his lobbying purposes. That bothers me. It's something that's not available to members of the general public, something councillors should very much be discouraged from accepting."

Philanthropy or Lobbying?

The two councillors, Scott Duvall (Ward 7) and Terry Whitehead (Ward 8), had differing responses to the issue.

Duvall ackowledged that Chapman made "a very good point" and pointed out that he has not gone since.

Whitehead, on the other hand, noted that Ecklund's businss is in serving legal notices and added that Ecklund "doesn't do any business with the city. Anything he does is philanthropic."

The question is whether Ecklund was acting in a capacity as a lobbyist, since councillors are not allowed to accept gifts from lobbyists.

Ecklund does have other business interests in addition to his process serving business. A potential conflict of interest manifests in a recent article published by Hamilton Mountain News reporting that Councillor Whitehead, inspired by Ecklund's campaign, has proposed that the city build an "iconic" waterfall design for the renovated City Hall forecourt.

According to the Spectator, Ecklund is also promoting his Waterfalls campaign with cars "wrapped in splashy photos of local waterfalls". The report notes that Councillor Whitehead and his wife have purchased one of Ecklund's cars, and that they frequently drive it to Ecklund's weekend Waterfall Walks.

Ecklund Cancels Philanthropy

Now Ecklund is so outraged at his treatment in the subcommittee and local media that he is canceling his philanthropic plans.

"At this time," he told the Spectator, "I don't know if there are any donations I can make to any city-related event or anything anymore. After what this committee said, I don't see how I could."

He sent an email to the Mayor and Council stating that he had been planning to make a multi-year funding commitment to the Hamilton Conservation Authority that would total over $1 million, but that he "sadly" can no longer do so. He will, however, continue to finance his City of Waterfalls initiative.

One thing is certain: the steady buzz about Ecklund's possible run for Mayor in 2010 is now pretty much a non-starter. Anyone with such thin skin that they pick up their toys and go home at the first sign of criticism is simply not cut out for the ruthless cut-and-thrust of municipal politics.


Update: thanks to intrepid RTH readers, we have more details on the possibility that Ecklund is a lobbyist. You can jump to the two added paragraphs, sourced in the comments for this blog entry.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 10:16:45

Wow!! All I can say is wow!

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By adrian (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 10:51:10

That's just plain silly. Why does it matter what Chapman says? (Unless, of course, there's some truth in it - but I have no idea if there is). If critical comments were a good reason to just pack things in and go home, this site would have been shut down years ago.

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By Aaron Ecklund (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 11:08:08

Now you meanies are piling on too! Give the poor philanthropist a break. Instead of criticizing him for buying privileged access to councilors for his pet projects, we should be thanking him on bended knee for gracing us with his generosity.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 11:27:25

More drama in our wonderful city. Ms Chapman brings up a good point and she would not be the only person sitting on this committee. As a citizen, she does have the right to bring issues forward for ths committee to discuss, as a group.

This is only my opinion but it makes on stand up and think, why this gentleman would be so upset, if the intentions were one of only a philanthropic interests to make this city a better place for all and not for political reasons.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 12:10:11

Anyone with such thin skin that they pick up their toys and go home at the first sign of criticism is simply not cut out for the ruthless cut-and-thrust of municipal politics.

I don't know about that. DiIanni managed to survive. At least until Joanna Chapman called him out. Oh, wait...

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By Tasty (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 13:01:08


Aaron Ecklund said: "we should be thanking him on bended knee for gracing us with his generosity."

Is Mr. Ecklund now the pope? Should I kiss his hand too? Should I agree to get in a barrel with him and jump over the waterfalls? May I drink some of his kool-aid?

Could someone tell him that his stupid Waterfallmobiles are the ugliest things on the road?

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By JonC (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 13:09:28

I didn't realize Mr. Ecklund had no business interests http://www.ecklundmarketinggroup.com/

It's entirely possible that nothing untoward happened, but councilors should be well aware that any accepted gifts are going to be investigated, especially if two of them accept the same gift.

Side note, from http://www.hamiltonmountainnews.com/news...>

Coun . Whitehead has embraced the city's growing recognition of becoming a "City of Waterfalls", a tag line that local businessman, Chris Ecklund, has been promoting throughout the area. &

It was against this background that Coun. Whitehead proposed a waterfall design for the city hall's forecourt. "It would be iconic to have a waterfall," he said.

Nope, no influence here at all.

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By scoop (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 13:10:17

Found this on www.chrisecklund.com today:

A WATERFALL FOR CITY HALL??
May 11, 2009

On May 8, the Hamilton Mountain News published a story titled 'West Mountain councillor pines for waterfall at city hall'. Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead wants a waterfall in front of the renovated city hall. Admitting that he and his family regularly attend Mr. Ecklund's waterfall walks, he said, ""We need to do something symbolic. What is a fountain symbolic of? Nothing. What is a waterfall symbolic of? Hamilton."

Isn't Mr. Ecklund a lobbyist and perhaps lobbied Councillor T.Whitehead to push the waterfall agenda at City Hall? Didn't I just read that Whitehead just bought one of Mr. Ecklund's stupid looking waterfall wrapped vehicles?

Boosterism at its worst.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 14:26:55

Lol this keeps getting better and better.

Larry DiIanni weighed in yesterday on the accountability committee in an overheated rant that made some good points especially about the Lieberman "graft" kerfuffle but was REAL touchy on well, the obvious. DiIanni of course couldn't resist taking some swipes against his enemies,

the committee -- "It hasn't accomplished much other than delaying inordinately the hiring of an integrity commissioner."

Joanna Chapman -- called her "this fine specimen of a hamilton patriot," said her place on the committee was a "patronage appointment from the Mayor's office" and said, "Joanna isn't about facts. She is about perception."

Mayor Fred -- "Now, if this isn't an integrity issue, I'm not sure what is. The Mayor refusing to take action on a graft allegation and, according to the Spectator, potentially lying about it would have been something for the committee to get to the bottom of."

Oh did I mention Larry DiIanni's blog is hosted by ... Chris Ecklund??

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 14:51:27

a few points come to my mind.

  1. DiIanni's blog is on Ecklund's site and he obviously doesn't like Chapman for sticking it out through the crazy legal process necessary to uncover election scandals. However, I know LD and you can bet that behind the scenes he is telling Chris to calm down and get some tougher skin. DiIanni would never run and go home if someone questioned him. And that's all Chapman did - question Ecklund.

  2. I have no problem at all with Ecklunds waterfall campaign. I wrote this on RTH a few years ago: http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog.asp?i...

And this last year: http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog.asp?i...

Trying to promote Hamilton's natural beauty can hardly be called 'lobbying'. If so, sign me up.

Granted, this news story has uncovered the other 20 some odd 'businesses/websites' run by Mr. Ecklund so perhaps there is more going on than just promoting Hamilton. I really don't know.

All I know is a philanthropist gives for the love of their cause or community, expecting nothing in return. That doesn't seem to be the case here, now.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 15:38:20

Agree with Jason. This action is pretty much the exact opposite of what a philanthropist would do.

The Hamilton Conservation Authority is completely politically neutral (as far as I know).

Accepting gift box seats to a football game by two politicians is illegal if the cost exceeds the following limits: a maximum of $300 per year, and when reach $200, they are required to inform the integrity commissioner about the items.

If he isn't in it for political gain, then why would he even associate the two events. Why would you hurt the cause you claim to care so much about.

Also, Whitehead should bone up on his responsibilities. http://www.dundasstarnews.com/news/artic...

"I can go to the Easter Egg hunt, but not to a football game?" [Whitehead] asked. "I just want to know the rules" and claims "There was no benefit to me"

Whitehead claims there was no value to the ticket. In that case, why not meet at city hall, or a coffee shop. It's a very simple system to practice and I have to follow a nearly identical system for my employer. If you receive a benefit or gift, you keep a record and report it (or turn it down) when it exceeds set guidelines. It isn't up to councilors to arbitrarily decide what counts as a gift.

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By Commish (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 16:15:36

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 16:24:33

@Commish I don't know what Ryan and Nobrainer and Jason are doing to help this city but not everyone feels the need to trumpet their generosity to the world at every opportunity.

Do I hear a Matthew 6:1-4??

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 16:26:54

^Also if your a real philanthropist you don't refuse to help the cause you think is so important just because someone criticized you. I dont know Ecklund from Adam but he sounds very insecure and defensive, like he has something to prove to the world.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 16:31:49

By Commish: What do you need money in order to be recognized as giving something back that would benefit the community as a whole? I was a the launch of the Peer to Peer Mentoring group today, mostly volunteers, whose goal is to empower those who are most vulnerable in our city.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2009 at 17:24:01

I can't see the motivation for what Ecklund is doing here, unless perhaps stopping a donation he didn't want to make.

It doesn't help his image, his initiatives or his ideas at all, and they were as-of-yet not so bad. It doesn't move anything he IS doing forward. I really wonder why he chose to, for all intents and purposes, throw a hissy fit over this.

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By Dumb guy (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 20:16:23

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By JonC (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 21:35:59

That seems like a vast over simplification. In fact it seems inaccurate. I would suggest going back and re-reading the comments on past articles. Most regarding Stinson skeptical at best (mixed with some hope) and in general Ecklund has only received a bad rap on this latest action, which was weak at best. If you care to defend his decision to remove a million dollars in funding from his most favourite thing in the whole world due to questions regarding councilors behaviour (the subcommittee meeting wasn't even about him) feel free, but you've clearly over simplified the comments on the site.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 28, 2009 at 23:40:29

dumbguy, please back up a few entries above yours and read what I wrote not once, but twice on RTH in the past few years about Ecklund's waterfall campaign.

Your comment will probably get voted down because it's wildly inaccurate, and for no other reason.

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By synxer (registered) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 09:27:53

I've been following this site for awhile and among other great tidbits of info now have the fortune of learning the following: Harry Stinson - good. Chris Eklund - bad.

Hey, Chris! Welcome to RTH.

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By Perfect! (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 10:47:42

Look at it this way.. At least we wont have to deal with him during the Mayoral Campaign! What a relief!

This guy is far from a philanthropist; he's always in the media getting his name/face out there, as it is/was clearly a ploy for name recognition for the 2010 elections (if Hamiltonians love anything, it's politicians with a Name(ie: Bratina, Stan Keyes, Sheila Copps, Bill Kelly, Jody from Today's Special, etc)

And ps, those Waterfall Vans/Suvs/RVs ARE pretty ugly... but nothing beats the South Pacific Chinese restaurant's delivery truck!


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By Contrarian (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 12:01:38

Perfect said: Look at it this way.. At least we wont have to deal with him during the Mayoral Campaign! What a relief!

Quite to the contrary, remember the adage: all news is good news in politics, just spell the name right. I'd say this latest blip has increased his visibility and is sure to push him to running. Keep up the propaganda, RTH

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By Failed Politician (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 12:39:42

Nice to see you on RTH again Larry!

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By Councillor Terry Whitehead (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 14:29:54

I appreciate all the comments made on this issue and I feel compelled to clarify some points. Chris Ecklund and I have been friends long before I entered politics. The City lawyers have clearly stated that the test of whether a gift should be refused is if you were not a councillor would you have received the same opportunity? The answer in this case would be "yes." The City lawyer indicated in that case a councillor would not be in violation of any code of conduct. I have season tickets for the Tiger Cat games and was made aware that Chris was renting a box and asked me to drop by. At half time, I dropped by his box as well as others to say hello. He bounced ideas, as he has in the past, about his waterfall branding. There has never been a cost to the City in relation to these ideas. He has always looked after the funds without City assistance of any kind.

I think the Water Fall Branding is great. This is why I suggested it for the forecourt of City Hall. Chris will not gain anything from this suggestion, whether it goes through or not. It would merely benefit the City. Whenever a citizen proposes a good idea to me, I will bring it to my colleagues. As elected officials, that is what we are suppose to do. There is a big difference between this and having someone lobby for their personal benefit.

Chris is not in politics. He has the good fortune to be in a position to give back to the City. I meet him in 1992 and he had been actively donating to different organizations even before then. His Water Fall Branding is an extension of his monetary donations to these causes. I have met both local people and out-of-towners on many of the walks my family and I have taken around these falls. Everyone has always told me how much they love these walks and how surprised they are to find these treasures in Hamilton.

The context of the discussions at the Transparency Committee was about developing a Code of Conduct that addresses matters of gifts and what constitutes a gift. I absolutely agree with the principle that Joanna has put forward. I do not agree that the example she gave adequately shows the problems with excepting gifts from lobbyists. Chris does not stand to gain any monetary advantage from the ideas he put forward to me; he is purely philanthropic in any interaction I have had with him. However, this disagreement on what constitutes a gift, what is acceptable behaviour and what is in conflict is the very reason that the Transparency Committee exists. Currently there is no clear policy and that is why we are having the discussions. To this the end, if it is decided that even situations such as this should be reported, I will respect the decision of the majority. We will have to wait and see what the committee puts forward.

What is unfortunate is that comments were made about a philanthropist in our community at a City Committee attended by the press. I feel that Chris Ecklund's name could have been left out of the discussions and the point still could have been made. If it was absolutely necessary to name people, it could have been done in a constructive manner. In the end, this was not the case.

I have seen many comments calling Chris "thin-skinned." He is not a politician. He has never announced that he would like to run for mayor. His motives for his philanthropy have always been for the good of the City. Why is anyone surprised that he feels his generosity has been for nothing when the media turns his good deeds into an ulterior motive? Why is anyone surprised that he is hurt by these allegations? You are right - if he was a politician, he is being too sensitive. But he is not!


Councillor Terry Whitehead
Ward 8 - West Mountain
City of Hamilton

Office: (905) 546-2712
Fax: (905) 546-2535
Cell: (905) 317-6001

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2009 at 14:36:55

Dear Councillor Whitehead,

Thank you for sharing your detailed comments on this issue. I think you get to the heart of the matter when you write, "this disagreement on what constitutes a gift, what is acceptable behaviour and what is in conflict is the very reason that the Transparency Committee exists."

I hope that the committee can act to make the policy clear and unambiguous so that councillors and the public understand clearly what is allowed and what is not allowed. That way, we will be able to determine that the city's political affairs are being conducted in a clear, transparent and lawful manner.

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By markwhittle (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2009 at 15:51:52

With all this talk of Lobbyist and their influence on the decisions of council it is instructive to click the link below to find out who is actually registered with the City of Hamilton Lobbyist Registry to legally lobby city council.

http://www.myhamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/92...

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By what controversy? (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 16:07:45

We are discussing a huge consipiracy to get people to admire our waterfalls?

Ms Chapman, a woman I have great respect ofr is right in bringing the issue forward given her position on the committee. But I think how it has been taken by others is causing undue dammage to an intiative which is trying to promote a great aspect of Hamilton.

That does not give it a pass to give different standards to people depending on their lobby, but we should not be so quick to mangle an opportunity when someone wishes to spearhead a way to promote Hamilton without changing or "developing" it.

People should check out his site and learn more before making too many judgments. I doubt the use of his seats has made any polititian reevaluate his priorites in favour of waterfalls. A bit of inpropriety but not worth ending all future waterfall endeavors.

I for one am not too concerned if he does get some spin off marketing income somehow at a later date if he can help make Hamilton a City of waterfalls rather than a city of roadways and empty smokestacks.

Note I have never met Mr. Ecklund nor am I a part of his work.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2009 at 16:10:58

Setting aside for a moment that there is apparently only one registered lobbyist in the city of Hamilton, what on earth is this data doing in a PDF? It's like the city is making public information public only reluctantly and as unhelpfully as possible.

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By Random Screen Name (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 16:23:53

^^"That does not give it a pass to give different standards to people depending on their lobby, but we should not be so quick to mangle an opportunity when someone wishes to spearhead a way to promote Hamilton without changing or 'developing' it."

Sorry but I have to speak out on this one. NO ONE is telling Ecklund not to promote his city of waterfalls initiative, from the comments above most people think it's a pretty good idea.

Ecklund HIMSELF is the one that pulled the plug just because an ethics committee questioned if it's appropriate for two councilors to accept the 'gift' of seats in his private box.

If he's being criticized now, it's not because of his Waterfalls plan or even his lobbying efforts (if they ARE lobbying efforts, not even the committee seems it can figure this out), it's because of his ridiculous over-reaction after the committee was just doing it's job!

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By markwhittle (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2009 at 16:39:09

What's wrong with City Hall presenting factual information in a PDF at their web site Jason, there are hundreds of them there? In my oppinion there is a huge amount of lobbying going on under the table at city hall.

I refused to be part of it (integrity) and requested that they provide a volunteer registry, which they did. If i'm the only one on it what does that say to you Jason?

The committee Chapman sits on should be strengthening this legislation to close the loop holes you can drive a truck through.

For example, when developers send representatives to fight for their cause at committee meetings, such as the committee of adjustment, they should be called "lobbyists" as is the law in Toronto, and many other jurisdictions.

One would think that you of all people would support more open, transparent and accountable local government and support a mandatory Lobbyist Registry, instead of the present voluntary one.

In your oppinion, how many lobbyist for the environment Industry are in town pushing their cause at the committee level, or the poverty industry to name another lobby group with members embedded in certain committees of council.

Why else would Hamilton need an Integrity Commissioner if the city didn't have a lack of integrity in the first place?

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 16:58:41

MarkAlan: could you elaborate more on what you mean by "poverty industry"?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 17:42:57

and "environment industry"?

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By markwhittle (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2009 at 18:09:09

Groups that advocate for the poor, like Mc Queston Legal Services or groups like The Friends of the Red Hill Valley or CATCH, the list goes on and on.

Matter of fact, I just saw Tom Cooper on CHCH News tonight, from the Round Table on Poverty opining about how Hamilton residents will somehow be lifted out of it (poverty) if Copps Colliseum get's an NHL team, when 20 or more studies prove this is nonsense in every city they studied that has an NHL team.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 19:34:19

Mark Alan: Thanks so much for elaborating, I was just curious by what you meant by your definition of the poverty industry.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 20:59:00

Hi Councillor Whitehead, Thank you for your clarification, but Mr. Ecklund is being thin-skinned. The chain of events (as I understand them) is that Chapman brings up a transaction that includes him (I agree that there isn't any particular reason to bring up individual names in a sub committee meeting), and the newspaper reported the events of the meeting. His reaction is to pull a planned million dollar donation from the Conservation Authourity. That doesn't make sense. At all.

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By Chris A (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2009 at 22:10:40

Paper thin skinned is the most flattering description of Chris Ecklunds behaviour. He is courting politicians but launches into this wounded Duchess routine? I don't buy it for a minute; it is nothing but transparent dramatic posing. There was something profoundly disturbing about the way he implied he had cancelled a major donation to the RGB because of the integrity questions. First it says this is a man who is so small that he would derail a valued project totally unrelated to his greivance out of spite. Even more disturbing no one was informed of this planned donation is was going to be a surprise of sorts. This sounds more like a pouty child than a "philanthropist". There is an overwhelming stink to this story and after a look around chrisecklund.com I see marketing for Chris and not much else. I am confident that time will tell the same story to many others that any service or philanthropy provided to the community is purely incidental. Any person who would try to pass off that pant load about the RGB donation is not deserving of trust as to their ethics, nor are they entitled to the respect accorded true philanthropists. Good luck to Chris in learning the meaning of the word.

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By logonfire (registered) | Posted May 30, 2009 at 01:10:21

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 30, 2009 at 07:42:43

based on the letters to the ed being printed in the Spec, it would appear as though this minor question by Chapman and subsequent over-reaction by Ecklund is being used by the local elites to try to demonize Chapman. I can understand DiIanni piling on. He lost an election because of her. But it would appear as though others are now using this to try to (once again) paint her out to be something more than a concerned citizen who's tired of money=political power.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 30, 2009 at 08:23:46

logonfire wrote >She would seem to judge others by thinking that they would act as she would.

Yeah. What a loser for thinking that local politicians would OBEY THE LAW.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted May 30, 2009 at 08:40:23

"Chris Ecklund, whom I do not know, must be a man of character, for he no longer wants to associate himself with an organization which can be so thin in intelligence and tact."

That is in no way what has happened. He is punishing an unrelated party (assuming the donation was actually going to transpire that same day). He cancel all his donations to the subcommittee if he wants, but all his actions have done is draw attention to what I (and I assume most people) never would have thought twice about if he had ignored the matter, or responded to the comment and left it at that.

"If we do not allow people to talk freely - even wealthy and influential people - among themselves, we have lost a freedom." & "trying to gird it with such tight rules, regulations and oversight that not very much can be accomplished"

Anyone is allowed to talk, but councillors give up some of their freedoms when they take a public office and are required to take certain steps to ensure transparency. These rules already exist and the subcommittee is inquiring as to whether they are being followed, which is the purpose of the subcommittee. If the steps aren't clear, as Councillor Whitehead has indicated, then certainly they should be clarified, but in any case, if the councillors are unclear, the onus is on them to seek the clarification.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted May 30, 2009 at 09:10:42

Wow, what can I say, so now we have the possiblity of a waterfall in front of cityhall, that will cost how much?

Yet we have people who struggle, fighting for an extra $25.00 a week to able to buy fresh food, instead of relying on the foodbanks, which often gives out food that is past the expiration date.

Maybe Mr Ecklund should of gone to the forum on poverty and health and heard the actual stories of those that really struggle in our community.

Many in the grassroots, have struggle long and hard just to get the voices of those that struggle out into the mainstream.

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted May 30, 2009 at 16:56:11

I just spent way too much time on chrisecklund.com - hours in fact - to find out just what sort of person he is. I liked the waterfall campaign and thought it was an excellent idea. I had done nothing to really examine all aspects of either the "branding" by Ecklund or Chris Ecklund himself. His reaction to Ms. Chapmans questions of his guests from city hall prompted me to do both. Chris Ecklund is not a philanthropist, he would like everyone to think of him as one but he runs a couple of businesses and he makes some charitable efforts which also advertise those companies. Therefore they are exactly the same type of contributions made by companies everwhere in this city /province/ country. He takes great pains on his site to mention his name in the same breath as Chester Waxman and Morgan Firestone musing that these are big perhaps impossible shoes to be filled. He relentlesly informs the reader he has a "driver", so far this year he has identified this "driver" as Dan once, although he did identify him at least several times in 2008. The point is he mentions this driver 14 times on the first page of his blog alone covering Dec 13 2008 to May 20 2009. Hopefully this helps you see him as wealthy and too preoccupied with ideas or as conducting active business enroute. During that same period Chris Ecklund tells you that he is one of the "movers and shakers" of this city 6 times. Anyone else see a pattern here? I see a self styled marketing guy trying to manipulate perception of himself. His blog reminices on his long and succesful business carreer and attempts to portray him as having earned insight available only to those as succesful as him. Just in case you missed Chris's blog intro on the top "Welcome to the official blog for Chris Ecklund, Hamilton businessman and philanthropist....." Odd that the only person to describe Ecklund as a philanthropist is Ecklund. So far this year Chris Ecklund has sponsored a waterfall walk / clean up and an Easter Egg hunt. He has hosted at least 2 other waterfall walks during 2009. I would say Chris Eckland is a good corporate citizen but his claim to be a philanthropist is misleading self promotion and or the product of a distorted ego. Eckland Marketing Group is the primary enterprise of Chris Eckland and a potential beneficiary of any "conversations" Chris might have with a councillor at say a football game. I think Ms Chapmans questions were not surprisingly well founded and reasonable. I might even say without any hidden agenda if not beyond reproach. Chris Eckland is another matter. He is far too manipulative and deceitful to be taken at face value. It would not surprise me discover that his waterfall campaign is a construct of his marketing company he hopes to sell to the city or failing that he will see if he can spring board a political carrer through his charitable contributions and his "moving and shaking". He had better stick with the former though if you look at his blog he asked for the police chiefs resignation for undisclosed reasons in 2008. In 2009 he claims there is some sort of cabal in city hall called "The Slate", and that he has met their leader. However he did turn down their request he join them. The reason he gives is - I'll let Chris explain ".. as I always do this myself each election it was a conflict between us as we already had differences on who we wanted in for the next term." Good to know that things like circumventing the democratic process were not a bother. That last one reminds me of the RGB contribution story.

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By Mad Man (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2009 at 17:35:37


Chris Ecklund is a "Marketing Guy" because being a "Bail Bonds Man" is about as sexy as being a garbage man.

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By Copperfield (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2009 at 12:56:19

Thank you Chris Angel for the expose on Mr. Ecklund. On the other hand I scowered the net and the lists of benefectors to local agencies, churches, museums, food banks and other institutions needing help. No reference to Chris Angel ever having donated a thin dime!!! Why not write a note on your own philanthropic efforts so that we too might emulate same!

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted May 31, 2009 at 22:13:38

You are quite welcome Copperfield. I have never claimed to be a philanthropist and would not ask anyone to emulate anything I do. As a matter of fact any person who proclaims themself a philanthropist is a horses ass. It is like proclaiming ones self a hero. It is for others to decide if your efforts warrant such honorific descriptions. By Chris Ecklunds definition any corporation or individual who makes charitable donations and efforts apparently is one. Even if some of those efforts are self serving. Lastly, you know nothing of me or what I do. Your claims to have conducted any search of this nature are ridiculous. I will not disclose any contribution of money or time to dignify your silly remark. Unlike some who are buying advertising when they donate I like many others do so with a quiet dignity foreign to people like Chris Eckland.

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By Copperfield (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2009 at 11:18:34

Thank you for clarifying your stand on philanthropy, Chris Angel. Would that you were so humble about people's motives as well.

Abracadabra...you are gone!

p.s. and forgotten!

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By Houdini (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2009 at 11:47:32

Seriously - someone has a magician gimmick on here? And he makes posts and posters disappear?

Lame.

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted June 01, 2009 at 13:14:46

Oh my sides ache from laughter ... the disappearing bit well no one until you has pointed out the similarity between my name and Criss the video illusion guy. Wait - you are "Copperfield" as in David and its an "anonymous". Did you make that up just for me? I am touched and humbled by your gesture and awed by your boundless wit.

I really am not to concerned with Chris Ecklands motives. He is going to have to have something to sell before he can peddle the waterfall thing to the city and any transaction would be scrutinized by honourable members of council like Ms. Chapman and the public in general. As to a political career it would be short lived even if he managed to get elected which is doubtful. Just in the last 6 months he has demanded the resignation of the chief of police, come out with some crack pot story about "The Slate" cabal and pulled a hissy fit and taken his toys and gone home after blogging some petulant garbage about how he was just about to offer the largest donation of his carrer. Much like the $10,000 he was "planning" to donate to Fieldcote in 2007. I guess he was going to announce that he was "planning" to donate an even larger amount to the RGB just as soon as he gets around to honouring all the empty promises he has made. It is easy to be generous when it does not cost anything or when you are generous with someone elses money.

What are his toys? - Well, a few cars and a motor home. He sends "Dan" out in the motor home to pick up food donations in the off season. I wonder given that he uses it for charitable purposes besdes personal, if he doesn't write off gas and maintenance and either lease costs or depreciation? It seems all 4 vehicles this person owns is wrapped in waterfall decals and the same tax credits and very likely additional credits applied. Thats OK with me and it probably is with Revenue Canada. Anyone can do the same so it is a level playing field. Councillor Whitehead is now doing it having purchased one from Eckland, I am sure at market value. I suggest everyone follow this fine philanthropic example. After all if you can't sell whatever you are "branding" to the city you are out nothing with the tax credits you have been able to claim. Put me down for waterfall car #4 from chriseckland.com I especially like the hood photo of the chick in the bikini on all fours in front of some nameless waterfall. Nothing says Chris Eckland to me like this vehicle. I have the perfect bumper sticker for it - something about how no one rides for free. Good luck to Chris "branding" himself as the politician / philanthropist without the common sense to veto that shot.

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By Confused? (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2009 at 13:47:18

Why is it so difficult for Hammerheads to get to the nub of conflict of interest issues and influence peddling. I remember a defense for Councillor Mitchell's actions when it was thought he'd tried to use his position on Council to avoid a traffic ticket, as being "That's okay, I'd have done the same." I remember when the Chief of Police accepted a paid trip to, I think Israel, the argument in favour was that other Chiefs of Police in Ontario did the same (and wondered how that denfense would work in against a traffic ticket.) I've never understood why, given Mayor DiIanni's election over-fundng was an honest error, it took so long and so much effort for the error to be admitted. Am I naive?

In the case of Mr. Ecklund, if you live or do business in a community and you promote the benefits of living and/or doing business in that community, you are also, directly and/or indirectly promoting your own interests. That isn't immoral or unethical. Technically that is not philanthropy, but that doesn't negate the value of community contributions. If you want to run for political office, I should think a perceived ability to promote the community's interests would be a benefit, and I don't see why someone who openly contributes to what he or she considers a benefit to the community should be discouraged from running for mayor.

If you promote what you consider to be in the community's interest, to local politicians and administrators, then you are lobbying and I don't see anything wrong with it unless lobbyists try to influence politicos to make decisions based upon anything other than the merits of their cases. There is a big difference between attending a football game on a lobbyist's ticket to talk over subjects of interest to the lobbyist, and a politician already attending the game dropping by a lobbyist's box at half-time to discuss subjects of interest to the lobbyist. One is simply like-minded people talking; the other becomes a conflict of interest for the politician, and as such the politician should be disqualified from participating in any decisions regarding the subject in conversation. Transparency is the issue, as Mr. Whitehead points out. Appearances, perceptions, ARE important in the public arena.

I like Hamilton promoting itself as a city of waterfalls. I think that is of value to local citizens, and could positively influence the perceptions by others regarding our community as a good place to live and do business. I think that Mr. Ecklund's idea to leverage his own marketing business with the promotion of this concept (which he does on his marketing website) is imaginative and creative. I'd seriously consider such a creative and imaginative individual for political office if he decided to run. Whether he does or not is up to him.

On the whole I don't understand why Mr. Ecklund perceives a slight in Ms. Chapman's comments, at least in the context that Mr. Whitehead describes. If he wishes to withdraw his contributions to the community in order to preserve his notion that he is a philanthropist first and foremost it is not for me to question his motivations but that does not alter the need for public scrutiny and openness. None of this changes the merits of the argument for declaring Hamilton a city of waterfalls. If the quality of life in this city hangs on the giving of public gifts by one or a very few individuals, that is a bigger problem than blindly accepting gifts can solve.

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted June 01, 2009 at 14:17:30

Don't be confused it is very straight forward. Despite all the crap about philanthropy Ecklund owns Eckland Marketing Group which is a potential beneficiary of City of Hamilton business. It may have already have recieved contracts or other business with the city or perhaps not. In any event it could. Whitehead should have owned up that it was inappropriate to attend Ecklunds box, but would not. If he is buying cars from him I don't wonder that he is stone walling on this. There are a few nickel and dime sleaze bags who don't want there little ducets to dry up - they like freebees. They would like to muddy the waters and feign ignorance of what is appropriate or not and Whitehead is one. That does not wash in this day and age. They are doing their best to tun back the clock to an era when even 3rd string politicians were courted with gifts. Too bad for these douches those days are gone.

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2009 at 14:59:10

If Chris Ecklund did not make such a deal over the 'conflict of interest' would the issue have even been reported in the paper to the extent it was?

Front page news, tongues wagging, numerous comments on blogs.

Maybe this was a planned marketing move. It has sure been a boost to the city of waterfalls message.

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By Lurky Lurky (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2009 at 15:11:55


"Maybe this was a planned marketing move. It has sure been a boost to the city of waterfalls message. "

The only thing boosted was Chris Ecklund's image. I'm sure he is happier than a pig in a shit that he is being talked about online and in the press.

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted June 04, 2009 at 22:48:21

I really doubt if Ecklund or his waterfall thing received any kind of "boost". He comes off looking very bad and very phony through this. There is such little substance and so much BS to almost everything he does that it is a mistake on his part to invite any scrutiny what so ever. If he does not totally control the script like on his blog or in his marketing and promotional stuff it all unravels very quickly. He is an inspiration though, I am about to embark on my own campaign to brand Hamilton as either the city of fake philanthropists or Hamilton the city where everyone can afford a politician. I'll wrap my car with either of their sorry faces and write of depreciation, all the fuel, maintenance and insurance just for a start and then work in charges to deduct from taxes my time to conduct the campaign. Did I mention I will now be called Saint Christopher for having given so much.......

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By I wanna be a mayor (registered) | Posted June 06, 2009 at 09:19:36

All

What I find most amazing is the ability of an individual to cascade a wide net of evasion to truth, logic or reality of his current situation. We have seen it all including an RV that has many sponsorship names, selective participation to several committees only to conclude that when it gets tough the only alternative is to deploy an attack.

Leadership is a privilege not a right in this community.

One cannot attach themselves to any/all reported developments of this community for the sole purpose of personal benefit or gain. Without claim.

More importantly attach such claim to every public/private event in and around the City of Hamilton for the purpose of publicity via a home grown Web page? Is this the true calling of philanthropy. Clearly amazing? Read between the lines.

I think this current event extends right into the laps of the City of Hamilton. The reality is that many more events will follow as matters are fully exposed.

It takes a man to declare that he has done something wrong.....but it takes a bigger man to leverage it. This is the current methodology and demenor that can only be described as a witch hunt.

Don't let this event die down. Get on board the RV or the Suv`s. We can call them the peoples free business expense or just plain party favours to all that will listen.

And if you have read this far, give me a chance before you pick-up your ball from the play ground and back pedal to Grimsby.

Try to remember my friends. Leadership starts with "Lead not BIG." Cash is short term.......integrity like Ms Chapman last a life time. Priceless.

I wanna be a Mayor Too.

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By The Hammerthing (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2009 at 18:12:20

I know for a fact that Chris Ecklund likes to come here and read this blog once in a while but the only problem is, he doesn't know how to read English. You have to speak and write to him in Pig Latin:


OINK OINK OINK OINK OINK OINK OINK

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By concerned-citizen (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 11:13:40

There is no one more "in it for himself" than Chris Ecklund. He's the worst kind of Philanthropist. If he’s handing out money, you’ll know about it. Just read his blog, gawd, it’s disgusting what he thinks of himself. He runs his business like a personal piggy bank, keeps his employees under paid and under appreciated, while funding things like the waterfalls on the dime he should be dumping back into his employees.

The man is a bully, always has been, and now that he has money, it’s much, much worse. I can say Chris Ecklund is the smallest man I’ve ever had the misfortune to know. Hey, look at his e-mail address… bigeck@... LOL I mean, doesn’t that just say it all?

I'd love for him to run for mayor one day. Then he'll really know what a dark cloud he casts over the city he loves.

Comment edited by concerned-citizen on 2011-01-17 11:15:24

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By concerned-citizen (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 16:19:43

Also, that whitehead is Ecklund's Toady. The guy has been bought and paid for by the biggest tool in the city. They deserve eachother. Hopefully they both go down with the sinking ship that is Chris Ecklund!

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By Fan of Concerned Citizen (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 14:44:27

Ecklund is a jerk, plain and simple. That's my opinion.

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By Witness (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2011 at 09:14:01

insult spam deleted

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By Canadian Hero (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 12:01:26

insult spam deleted

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