Over a barrel: Documentary breaks down foreign funding of opposition to Canadian oil and gas

Researcher Vivian Krause speaks at the 2019 Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show. Image: Brian Zinchuk/Pipeline News

Update: This documentary has been made available for free on YouTube and Facebook until Oct. 31, 2019.


Writer and researcher Vivian Krause’ documentary, Over a Barrel, was released on Oct. 8 on Vimeo, after showings in Calgary and Edmonton in the days before.

The 32-minute film distills the research Krause has conducted since 2010, which documents foreign funding of groups that have been working to landlock and cut off Canadian oil.

“There’s a global movement to go off fossil fuels. Even the oil industry is onboard,” she notes in the video. “But not in the United States.”

Krause traces the coordinated opposition to oil, gas and pipelines in Canada to the “Tar Sands Campaign,” which she stumbled across in June 2010. Her research shows this campaign has largely been funded by powerful U.S. groups such as the Tides Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Meaningfully, Over a Barrel cuts from Canadian Natural Resources executive chairman Murray Edwards speaking about climate change and protecting jobs to a news broadcast about the massive growth of oil production from the Permian Basin in West Texas.

“Here in Canada, we can’t build pipelines. We can’t even build a natural gas pipeline to help China get off coal,” Krause says.

“Without pipelines, Canada can only sell oil and natural gas to the United States. So the U.S. has a monopoly on Canada, and no incentive to pay world prices. Last fall, it got so bad that Canadian oil producers were losing $50 on every barrel of oil.”

“Building pipelines is about breaking the American monopoly that has Canada over a barrel,” she says.

The documentary includes several Indigenous people and their perspectives including Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance and former chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation; Ellis Ross, MLA for Skeena and former chief councillor of the Haisla Nation is another; and Wilson Brown, former chief councillor of the Haida Nation.

Ross speaks about giving his people purpose through economic development.

The net effect of the coordinated opposition to Canadian oil, gas and pipelines is the subsidization of fossil fuels in the U.S., Krause says.

She explains how hundreds of millions of dollars were provided by American foundations to groups in Canada to oppose the export of Canadian oil and gas by tankers. She points out that the B.C. coast is targeted, but not Alaska, Oregon, or California, where offshore platforms are visible from the beach.

Krause links Justin Trudeau confidant and former senior advisor Gerald Butts to the Tar Sands Campaign, including a $297,000 severance package he received when he left the World Wildlife Fund, where he had been president and CEO.

— with files from Pipeline News

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