This isn’t the kind of Yankee imperialism Canadian protesters typically protest. Powerful American interests pay Canadian environmental activists big, big money—well over half a billion dollars so far—that does nothing for the environment but undermines our economy and national unity. That’s Vivian Krause’s message and, as the pipeline controversy gains intensity, her story’s gaining prominence. But, she argues, Ottawa still shows no intention of using its power to stop this foreign interference.
The money trail begins with huge American backers that include the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, she says.
They fund intermediaries like the Oak Foundation, Tides Canada and its U.S.-based parent organization the Tides Foundation.
The intermediaries, in turn, channel money to Canadian groups like the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, the Pembina Institute, West Coast Environmental Law, the Dogwood Initiative, several first nations and the Council of Canadians, supposedly founded as a nationalist group to protect Canadian sovereignty.
Some examples? The Moore Foundation alone, she says, has pumped $259 million into Canada through more than 500 payments averaging about half a million each. Tides got $83 million. “West Coast Environmental Law, for example, receives on a monthly basis between $25,000 and $100,000 just from this one foundation.” Some first nations got $58 million in 99 payments averaging $580,000 each.
Backed by U.S. bucks, the beneficiaries go after Canadian resource industries, especially Alberta oil production, focusing on proposed Canadian pipeline projects and oil tanker traffic. Oddly excluded from the concerns of American funders and Canadian protesters are American oil production and American tanker traffic—even the American tankers that navigate British Columbia’s coast.
Ready to reveal sources, her website links to tax returns, policy papers and other documents to substantiate her message. Not only does she expose so much of their funding, but she also disputes the truthfulness of some of their key statements. Working “from my dining room table, using Google on my own nickel,” Krause single-handedly challenges an extremely well-funded and vocal movement.
She’s been accused of shilling for the federal Conservatives and the oil industry. But that brings a spirited retort: “I did what I did in spite of the Conservative party and in spite of the oil industry,” Krause tells ResourceClips.com. “I actually did what they should have done. But none of them were doing proper issue management research. They weren’t even following this.”
Having spent the 1990s working for UNICEF in Guatemala and Indonesia, she then took a job with one of the world’s largest producers of farmed salmon, an industry opposed by B.C. environmentalists. She happened to find documentation tracing their money and strategies to American sources. Then the money trail branched out.
“The same funders blocking farmed salmon from markets were starting to do the same to Alberta oil,” she recalls. “The tactics were the same, the funders were the same, some of the same individuals were involved.
“I worked with charities so I understand charities and charitable foundations. I worked in Indonesia, one of the most corrupt countries in the world, so I was trained to spot things that are fishy, and I also knew a resource-based industry—I witnessed the frontlines of activism against the salmon farming industry.”
As her research continued, she “couldn’t find anyone else who would do this. I kept wondering which think tank, which organization will take this over so I don’t have to do this anymore. I couldn’t find anybody.”
She acknowledges some honorariums in the past and the occasional speaker’s fee, but she remains a self-supporting individual fighting a one-person counter-campaign.
That’s against a movement that “doesn’t help the environment,” she argues. “All it does is bench Canada from the world market. And I would argue that we are one of the best oil producers. Look at what Alberta has done—they put on a carbon tax, they capped production and they created a protected boreal forest. No other oil-producing jurisdiction has done anything near that. Despite all that the Alberta government has done, they’re still being bullied out of the market. So I would argue that this anti-pipeline activism, if it intended to help mitigate the climate and environmental impacts of oil, has had the opposite impact.”
Despite all that the Alberta government has done, they’re still being bullied out of the market. So I would argue that this anti-pipeline activism, if it intended to help mitigate the climate and environmental impacts of oil, has had the opposite impact.
The American-funded campaign also intensifies the conflict between Alberta and some other Canadian jurisdictions, thereby weakening national unity, Krause says. Additionally she’s found American money intruding into Canadian election campaigns.
In one example following Canada’s 2015 federal election, she discovered the Oakland-based Online Progressive Engagement Network (OPEN) boasting that its Canadian campaign contributed “greatly to the ousting of the conservative Harper government.” Krause describes OPEN as a Rockefeller intermediary and the parent organization of Leadnow. Leadnow claimed to have defeated 26 Conservative incumbents, an obviously dubious statement, but Krause maintains the group may well have made a difference in some ridings.
So what’s Ottawa doing about this foreign interference? Nothing, Krause says. Her submissions to the Canada Revenue Agency have gone unanswered. As for Elections Canada, “I feel that they ignored crucial evidence and had they not ignored it they would have come to a different conclusion.”
Canada’s Elections Act has loopholes so big “you could drive a heavy hauler through them,” she adds. “And the amendments that the current government has proposed will not solve the problem.”
But any solution would depend on the CRA, she emphasizes. “As I was told during the Elections Canada investigation, if the Charities Directorate allows Canadian-registered charities to bring in money for those purposes, they then ‘Canadianize’ the money. And then, when those charities report the money to Elections Canada, for the purposes of Elections Canada it’s Canadian. So the CRA needs to enforce the Income Tax Act so that charities are not conducting activities that are not exclusively charitable.”
Nevertheless, she remains optimistic. For that, she credits several prominent natives for “lifting the taboo. There was a taboo on talking about this American funding. The BC Liberals, for 10 years, said we can’t fight it. They used to say, ‘They’ve got billions, we’ve only got millions. We have to go along with this Great Bear Rainforest’ [a 6.4-million-hectare West Coast environmental reserve] even though they knew that there’s no great bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.
“The taboo has been lifted. Now we can start asking for some accountability, starting with the CRA.”