Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is facing a major shakeup as chair Annette Verschuren resigns amid allegations of conflict-of-interest breaches and mismanagement within the federal funding agency. In a letter to Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Verschuren announced that she would step down on December 1, citing her commitment to the organization’s best interests.
This resignation comes as the federal ethics commissioner begins a probe into Verschuren’s role in providing $38 million in relief funding for SDTC’s companies during the pandemic, including one she leads as chief executive. The investigation ordered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada revealed evidence of inappropriate funding and breaches of conflict-of-interest rules. These findings were a result of allegations made by a whistle-blower group comprised of current and former employees of the organization.
The departure of both Verschuren and former SDTC CEO Leah Lawrence, who cited a “sustained and malicious campaign to undermine” her leadership as the reason for her departure, is likely to have a significant impact on the future direction and leadership of Sustainable Development Technology Canada. Verschuren has been the chair of SDTC’s board of directors since 2019, while Lawrence served as CEO from 2017 until her resignation earlier this year.