Vivian Krause speaks at the Smithers leg of her tour, which is being presented by Together for LNG, Canada Action and The North Matters. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Vivian Krause wants U.S. money out of anti-resource activism in Canada

Vivian Krause is fed up with U.S. money going to anti-resource activism in Canada.

The scientist and independent researcher was in Smithers June 11 to discuss American funding of a number of environmental advocacy groups in Canada.

In her presentation, Krause pointed to organizations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which have donated millions to numerous Canadian activism groups.

She further suggested that a number of American companies were investing money into curtailing Canadian resource development.

“The reason that we are where we are, that we can’t build a pipeline we can’t build any oil or gas projects is because of a campaign. It has a name, it’s called the Tar Sands Campaign and it’s been running now for a decade,” she said to an audience of more than 100 at the Pioneer Place Seniors Activity Centre in Smithers.

According to Krause the campaign is funding largely by American dollars, specifically a company called CorpEthics (CE), which she said started the campaign with RBF money, adding that an old CE mission statement for the campaign said its goal was to “landlock the oil sands so that the crude could not reach the international market where it could fetch a high price per barrel.”

But she said that mission statement has now been changed after a CBC article reported this information.

Currently, a mission statement on the CorpEthics website with the title Tar Sands Campaign states that the goal of the campaign is to “[educate] citizens about the harmful impact of tar sands expansion to our climate, native forests, and First Nations’ sovereignty,” going on to list a number of accomplishments it helped achieve.

“Together we successfully persuaded President Obama to block the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and publicly declare that to avoid catastrophic climate change, some oil must stay in the ground.”

Detailing numerous grants and donations to various environmental groups, many who are hold oppositional views to fossil fuel development, Krause posed the question of why so many American environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGO) are sending financial backing, sometimes exclusively or disproportionately, to Canadian organizations.

Krause suggested that a lot of these donations might be done not with the best intentions of the benefactors, but rather to curtail Canadian resource development and sovereignty while bolstering America’s own resource perspectives, adding that the RBF has also had a hand in funding the anti-forestry and anti-fish farming movements in Canada.

While she said she didn’t feel it was American resource companies involved, but rather philanthropists who wanted to see their green dreams become reality, but not at the expense of American interests.

“This is now the third time that we have a Rockefeller-funded campaign against a major resource based industry [in Canada],” she said.

“What’s this really all about? … out of all these tankers and all these pipelines criss-crossing North America, the only tankers and the pipelines against which there is a campaign are the ones that would take Canadian oil to export markets.”

It is not illegal for an American ENGO to sent backing to Canadian charities or environmental organizations and it is not a crime for those organizations to accept that funding.

Krause also acknowledged that she supported the overall goals of transitioning to sustainable energy and weaning off fossil fuels but that she doesn’t think it’s fair for them to be made at the expense of Canada but not the U.S.

“Those broader goals I think we can agree with but one of the ways that they want to get there is by keeping Canada out of the global market [for natural gas and oil] and that’s the point where I think as Canadians we have to say no.”

She added it’s important for all countries to have a fair shot at transitioning to a green future.

“We all want to be as green as we can … as for the barrels of oil that we still need to burn, the few of them, let’s make the best use of them, that’s what energy efficiency is all about,” she said.

“We need a situation that’s fair for all countries … [especially] a country like ours that is putting on taxes and caps.”

During a question period, Krause herself faced a question about speaking fees that she had taken from the resource industry.

Krause has stated on Twitter that, In 2012 and 2013, over 90 per cent of her income came from honorariums from the oil, gas and mining industries.

She acknowledged that she has received fees from these industries but also added that she wanted to clarify she had only received around $200,000 over the last seven years.

“I don’t apologize for an honorarium to speak at a conference … that happened five years after I did all this research, I started it in 2006 and it wasn’t until last fall that people started paying attention. So the work I did [was] in spite of the oil and gas industry and in spite of the conservatives, not because of either.”

Another question surrounded Skeena-Bulkley Valley’s NDP nominee and Smithers mayor Taylor Bachrach’s involvement with the B.C. non-profit Dogwood Initiative.

“[Bachrach] worked for Dogwood as the director from 2002 to 2007, can you tell me if Dogwood was active on the tar sands campaign then?” the questioner asked.

“Yes … and Dogwood was also funded directly by CorpEthics at that time,” Krause responded.

“Protecting the environment and tackling climate change are legitimate causes suported by millions of Canadians,” Bachrach told the Interior News when asked for a response to the comments. “Conspiracy theories don’t help us get any closer to solving the biggest challenges of our time,”  

Another question came from Pat Moss, who sits on the board of directors for Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research (NIBR).

“Are you aware that in the 70s, 80s and 90s, before there were any paid activists in the region, there were a number of issues where northwest residents voiced their concerns … isn’t that what’s still going on despite the fact that there are a few organizations that have received some funding?”

“Obviously, yes,” Krause responded.

“None of us are part of the Tar Sands Campaign,” Moss continued.

“Yours is. You have been funded by it,” Krause responded.

“Not by the Tar Sands Campaign, anyway, we don’t have to get into that debate … I don’t feel that groups in the northwest who have raised legitimate issues around [resource development] are part of some nefarious plot by American issues,” Moss responded.

Later on Krause was asked about what proportion of funding Canadian organizations are receiving from the states.

“Pat, why don’t you answer that for your organization,” she said.

“I have no idea,” Moss said.

“Well I can answer it for your organization, but you won’t like it.”

Krause is an independent researcher with a bachelor of science from McGill University and a masters of science in Nutrition from the University of Montreal.

The talk was presented by Together for LNG, Canada Action and The North Matters.

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