12/05/2011 12:02 EST | Updated 02/04/2012 05:12 EST

The Big Money Behind the Anti-Oil Sands Movement


Anyone who's been closely following the organized lobby against Canada's ethical oil sands knows that many of the ENGOs (Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations) here in Canada that have been attacking oil sands development are really front groups for big American trusts.

Vancouver researcher Vivian Krause has done excellent work at her blog, Fair Questions, exposing the millions of American dollars that have been funneled northward to fill the pockets of The David Suzuki Foundation and other groups campaigning against Canadian industry. The National Post has written about it here and here.

Vivian Krause's latest exposé reveals just how much money we're talking about: $116 million for just the top 20 grants from U.S. interests to Canadian eco-groups. As Krause writes:

Most of these grants are not among the most telling, nor do they constitute the bulk of the money that American foundations have paid to environmental organizations in Canada. However, what this list does indicate is just how big some of these grants are.

The anti-oil sands Canadian Boreal Initiative alone received US$60 million from U.S. funders.

There's nothing to suggest any of these quiet arrangements where foreigners fund supposedly "Canadian" groups to attack and lobby against Canadian industry are illegal. Whether they should be is another matter. But at the very least, Canadians should know more about them: When groups pretend they're standing up for Canadians, but are actually funded from American billionaires, they're deliberately misleading our citizens. (, by the way, accepts no foreign funding.)

Which is why it's great to hear the federal government suggest that it's interested in shining a little sunlight on the murky funding arrangements behind some of these purported "Canadian" ENGOs. As Krause reports on her blog, in an interview with Global TV Vancouver, Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested that he'll ensure Canada's interests in the Northern Gateway project are "protected" against the influence of murky U.S. funders.

Here's what was said:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper: There are environmentalists who will oppose any of these projects. Obviously, there will be environmental assessments and there always have to be negotiations with First Nations but that all said, this is a critical and important project to Canada as a whole.

Global TV: Canadian opposition may not be the only stumbling block.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper: I think we'll see significant American interests trying to line up against the Northern Gateway project, precisely because it's not in the interests of the United States. It's in the interests of Canada.

Global TV: Could they do anything to stop it?

Prime Minister Harper: Well, they'll funnel money through environmental groups and others in order to try to slow it down but, as I say, we'll make sure that the best interests of Canada are protected.

Earlier this month, former senior cabinet minister Jim Prentice told the Financial Post that he thought "environmental organizations based outside the country [should] be required to reveal who gives them funding when they participate in Canada's regulatory process to influence Canada's internal decisions."

We're glad to see the concerns over environmental false-flag operations are getting through to the highest levels in Ottawa. Canadians should be the ones making decisions about the oil sands. We understand the issue far better and only we can look out for our interests; certainly the Pew Charitable Trust and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund couldn't care less about the thousands of Canadian jobs at stake in the oil sands. When it's Canadian policy at issue, Canadians should be the ones in charge. It's great that our government understands that.