“McTaggert––you’re it,” says Watson

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1997:

VANCOUVER––Sixteen self-described founding
members of Greenpeace upstaged ceremonies in Vancouver to
mark the 25th anniversary of the start of the group with an open
letter demanding “a ceiling on salaries,” a “leveling out of the
hierarchical structure,” and other changes to insure that “the
organization which broke new ground in environmental campaigning
continues in that tradition, continues to be at the cutting
edge of environmental reform, and does not simply
become part of the institutionalized political landscape.”
The “founding members,” whose actual founding
roles came at various points from the 1969 formation of the
Don’t Make A Wave anti-nuclear testing expedition that
evolved into Greenpeace to the 1976-1977 formation of
European chapters, argued that a decline in global membership
from 4.8 million in 1990 to 30 million today reflects the treatment
of members as a source of funding, without real input
into setting policy and choosing campaigns.

The letter was reportedly drafted after the 16 signers
met in October at former Greenpeace chair David McTaggert’s
farm in Italy. Now “honorary chair,” McTaggert either
“retired” or was “kicked upstairs”––versions differ––in 1991.
“Those present,” reported London Independent environment
correspondent Geoffrey Lean, “included Nick Hill,
the first captain of the Rainbow Warrior; Monika Grielaba,
who became environment minister of Lower Saxony; Pete
Wilkinson, one of the founders of the pressure group in
Britain; and John Castle, a longtime skipper of Greenpeace
boats who spearheaded the action against the Brent Spar,” an
obsolete oil rig that Shell Oil unsuccessfully sought to sink in
the North Sea.
Conspicuously uninvolved was Paul Watson, who
“was there in 1972 at the formal establishment of the
Greenpeace Foundation,” Ric Scarce recalled in his 1990 book
Eco-Warriors, “but even then was pegged as ‘too radical’ by
those in control of the organization.” Watson was forced off
the Greenpeace board of directors in 1977 for defying Canadian
law by picking up a baby harp seal to save her from clubbing,
according to The Greenpeace Story, a quasi-official history by
Michael Brown and John May, but still disputes that he was
ousted from Greenpeace. He founded the Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society in 1978.
Issuing similar criticisms of Greenpeace in blunter
terms, while McTaggert was still the presiding figure, Watson
told Scarce that the group had become “nothing but the Avon
ladies of the environmental movement, knocking on every
door asking for handouts.” Accusing Greenpeace of emulating
Sea Shepherd campaigns just to raise funds on his reputation,
Watson added, “Those people are just as bad as the whalers
and sealers themselves. In fact, one sealer once referred to
Greenpeace as the highest paid sealers of them all, because
they make a business of saving seals. So long as the seal hunt
is going on, they’re getting paid.”
Faxing the London Independent coverage to A N IMAL
PEOPLE, Watson said he stood by his earlier statements.
“It’s typical that McTaggert is now saying the same
things I said then,” Watson added. “He always copied everything
we did, a year or two later, when he’d had time to rev up
to grab some headlines.”

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