Piece by meticulously researched piece, Vivian Krause has spent almost 10 years exposing this story SPECIAL TO FINANCIAL POST Updated: March 14, 2019
A protest in Washington against Canada’s oilsands.
Canadians watching Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election might be tempted to find comfort in their certainty that such foreign interference could never happen here.
Except it already has. And while the Russian government at least denies interfering in American political affairs, the perpetrators who meddled in Canadian elections have publicly trumpeted their success in devising and executing their plan aimed at helping elect who they wanted.
This story has all the elements of a fiction novel. Unfortunately it’s real
This story has all the elements of a fiction novel. Unfortunately it’s real. Piece by meticulously researched piece, B.C.-based independent researcher Vivian Krause spent almost 10 years exposing the story. Every detail has been corroborated, including with American and Canadian tax records, together with documents and statements from the perpetrators themselves.
The story begins in 2008, when a group of radical American anti-fossil-fuel NGOs created their “Tar Sands Campaign Strategy 2.1” designed explicitly “to landlock the Canadian oil sands by delaying or blocking the expansion or development of key pipelines.” A list of key strategic targets included: “educating and organizing First Nations to challenge construction of pipelines across their traditional territories” and bringing “multiple actions in Canadian federal and provincial courts.” A “raising the negatives” section includes recruiting celebrity spokes-persons such as Leonardo Di Caprio to “lend their brand to opponents of tar sands and generating a high negative media profile for tar sands oil.”
- Canadians are realizing foreign groups sabotaged our energy economy — for no good reason
- Joe Oliver: Yet more proof foreign radicals (yes, radicals) are sabotaging Canada’s economy
- ‘Eco-colonialism’: Rift grows between Indigenous leaders and activists
Since both American and Canadian tax laws require charities to document receipt and disbursement of funds, Krause was able to gather irrefutable evidence that tens of millions of dollars were transferred from Tides U.S. to its Tides Canada affiliate. Moreover, Krause was able to obtain 70 covering letters showing the recipients and how they used the funds.
They went towards mobilizing First Nations against the fear of oil spills, including payments to help build “indigenous solidarity resistance to pipeline routes,” to maintain “opposition to oil tankers” and to “provide legal support for actions constraining tar sands development.” Funding also went to the Great Bear Initiative Society to build support for designating the so-called “Spirit Bear” habitat as a nature reserve.
Payments went to the Pembina Institute to “advance…the narrative that oil sands expansion is problematic”; to Greenpeace Canada “for events to show opposition to pipelines and tar sands expansion”; to the Living Oceans Society “to build opposition to the Kinder Morgan Pipeline”; and to Forest Ethics “to conduct education and outreach opposing the Kinder Morgan and Northern Gateway pipelines.”
But the American anti-oilsands funding effort didn’t stop at encouraging opposition to oil pipelines. The Victoria-based Dogwood Initiative received millions of dollars from Tides Canada to run get-out-the-vote campaigns in the 2017 B.C. provincial election, including deploying a throng of campaign workers in the riding of Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver. After his election, the B.C. government would be in the hands of an NDP/Green alliance bent on fighting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Money was also funnelled to campaign activists working to help the Liberals win the 2015 election. Vancouver-based Leadnow received directly and through the B.C.-based Sisu Institute more than $1 million from Tides Canada towards the objective of defeating then prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, which supported expanding the oil and gas industry. Leadnow claims its campaigners helped defeat Conservative candidates in 25 ridings.
If it weren’t for all that American funding directed at a campaign mobilizing First Nations and other anti-pipeline activists, the Liberals might not have been so successful in running against the Harper Conservatives; but then, without the election of an ideologically anti-oilsands Liberal government, the funding for the anti-oilsands campaign might not have been enough, either. The website of the Tar Sands Campaign boasted until recently a quote from team leader Michael Marx: “The controversy from the campaign contributed to political victories at the provincial and national level in 2015 and led to bold climate commitments by Canadian leaders.” After the CBC reported this past January on the campaign (which the National Post and Financial Post, with Krause’s help, had been reporting on for years) on The Weekly hosted by Wendy Mesley, Marx’s quote was taken off the campaign’s site. (The episode is very much worth watching.)
But the campaigners received a bonus beyond their wildest dreams when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed one of their most dedicated eco-warriors as his principal secretary. Prior to ascending to the most powerful post in the Prime Minister’s Office, from 2008 to 2012 Gerald Butts was president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF Canada), an important Tides campaign partner. Butts would use his new powerful position to bring other former campaigners with him: Marlo Raynolds, chief of staff to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, is past executive director of the Tides-backed Pembina Institute. Zoë Caron, chief of staff to Natural Resource Minister Amarjeet Sohi, is also a former WWF Canada official. Sarah Goodman, on the prime minister’s staff, is a former vice-president of Tides Canada. With these anti-oil activists at the epicentre of federal power, it’s no wonder the oil industry, and hundreds of thousands of workers, have plummeted into political and policy purgatory.