Weyburn – Vivian Krause has spent the better part of a decade digging into foreign funding backing campaigns to block Canadian salmon farming, and then Canadian oil.
She was one of the headline speakers at the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show on June 5.
Krause pointed out that Texas oil production has more than doubled and it is now exporting oil to 20 countries, while in Canada there are protests against further oil and gas development.
“How is it that we got to this place? How is it that pipelines, of all things, are now a major election issue? We’re not talking about fentanyl, or drug prices,” she said.
“What are we talking about? Pipelines? They used to be out of sight, out of mind. No one ever had a pub conversation, or dinner conversation, over pipelines. But now we do.
“This didn’t happen for no reason. It was planned. It was the intended outcome of a campaign, a campaign with a name,” Krause said, explaining she first stumbled on it eight years ago with three little words: “tar sands campaign.”
It started with fish
Originally working in the salmon farming industry, Krause first worked on discovering the roots to a campaign to discredit farmed salmon from British Columbia. She soon found commonality with that campaign and the one against the oilsands.
She dug into tax returns of charitable foundations in the United States. She first found efforts to shift people away from farmed salmon. Activists were “de-marketing” farmed salmon, getting them to buy less, and they were being supported by these foundations. “De-marketing is done by instilling FUD: fear, uncertainty and doubt,” Krause said.
The fight against aquaculture, or farmed fish, was used to prop up the market for commercial fisheries, principally in Alaska, under a banner of sustainability.
These tactics would later be used against Canadian oil.
The organizations she found backing these efforts included the Tides Foundation, based in San Fransisco, and Tides Canada, based in Vancouver.
“It was in the course of this fish farming research that I found in the tax returns of the Tides Foundation an organization called Corporate Ethics got $700,000 one year for something called the tar sands campaign,” Krause said.
She noted that the Tides Foundation took money from other donors and passed it along, so she sought out the origins of the money.
“I found it, in the tax returns of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.”
The funds were meant to stem demand for Canadian oil, the third time a resource-based industry had been targeted. First it was forestry, then aquaculture, and now oil.
Tar sands campaign
From 2007 to 2012, money poured into Corporate Ethics for the the coordination of the tar sands campaign. Then the Rockefeller Fund switched to the New Venture Fund, based in Washington, D.C.
“The interesting thing is the purpose for which the money was being provided. The grants database said the money was specifically to cap tar sands production in Alberta,” she said. And in 2015, the then-new NDP government in Alberta did exactly that by way of the oilsands emissions cap it introduced in 2016.
The money kept coming to fuel the tar sands campaign.
Another area of concern was a new park along the B.C. coast to protect the “Great Bear,” and became known as the “Great Bear Rainforest.”
Krause pointed to payments that had been made to Indigenous groups in opposition to pipelines. Others organized students and youth. For awhile, much of the money went to opposition in the United States to the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Over the years, I’ve traced the funding of all these reports, all these stunts and celebrity appearances and many more, all these protests. Every single one of them is funded as part of the same campaign. I can’t find one single organization that’s not funded as part of the same campaign,” she said.
The CBC did a story on her efforts earlier this year. In that story, the Corporate Ethics webpage was highlighted, noting from the very beginning, the campaign strategy was to “to landlock the oilsands so the crude could not reach international markets.”
Days after that story aired, that verbiage was removed from the website or rewritten to talk about “educating voters.”
Corporate Ethics took credit for delaying the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL projects. Krause added that 11 years ago, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline was targeted.
“If we don’t respond differently to the activists against the current pipeline projects, that is, Line 3, Trans Mountain, Keystone, expect the same fate that happened against the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline. It’s the same campaigners, the same money, the same funders. It stands to reason the results are going to be the same, unless there is a different response,” Krause said.
Living Oceans was another organization involved, and it was a key participant in the court challenge that stymied the Trans Mountain Expansion last summer.
She noted that $63,576 was spent in one year on the application to the Federal Court of Appeal.
“What this means is that that court ruling was brought about as part of a campaign to landlock Canadian crude, and keep Canada out of the oil market. Now, I’m not saying the judge was influenced by the money. I am saying that the application, the legal work that brought that application to the court, was partially funded as part of this campaign.”
Three organizations got $700,000 from the Tides Foundation, she said. The leading applicant of the court challenge was funded specifically to oppose and stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline project.
“What this means is that when the judge ruled that government needed to consult, and meaningfully, with First Nations, what she was telling the government was that it was needing to consult with the very same First Nation that was getting funded to shut down the project. Of course, in the ruling, none of this was mentioned.”
Krause said she didn’t come across this until after the ruling came about.
“I can go through every single court ruling that has slowed down or stopped all the pipeline projects, and there isn’t one single court ruling that has been brought about, that has not been funded. Every single court action slowing down these pipeline projects is part of this campaign,” she said.
A small amount of money has been spent on door-to-door campaigns during elections, Krause added.
Other money was spent to set up “fake grassroots campaigns” run from a private company run out of a treehouse office on Salt Spring Island, B.C.
The funding foundations, she said, are all members of an umbrella group called the “Consultative Group on Biological Diversity,” created in the late 1980s by the U.S. government, which still provides a very small amount of funding.
Large scale initiatives vary from protecting bears to another which includes two-thirds of Canada, half of which they want no “extractive industries,” no logging, roads, mining, hydro, oil or gas. Protecting large tracts of land, from the beginning, was about protecting the habitat of iconic species like caribou and grizzly. It was also about restricting oil and gas development in Canada, Krause said.
In the U.S., the initiative only affects states that don’t produce 95 per cent of America’s oil.
Great Bear Rainforest
Krause said that the premise of the Great Bear Rainforest formed the basics of Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, which passed into law a few weeks after the presentation.
She noted there are about 100 blonde-coloured black bears, the Kermode Bear, in a small area. They are of spiritual significance to some First Nations people.
The original idea was to protect those bears. But the area was expanded, from the northern tip of Vancouver Island, to Alaska.
(The British Columbia website for the Great Bear Rainforest notes it is the size of Ireland).
“Now we have this huge area that’s called the Great Bear Rainforest, but in most of it, there are no Great Bears. Now we’re told we can’t have any tankers there. The bears don’t like it,” Krause said.
“What started off as a good idea, a protection of the habitat of a special bear, that idea has morphed and become a great trade barrier. Something is being protected here, and it’s not the bear. It doesn’t even live in most of the area. What is being protected is the American monopoly on our oil, that is keeping our country over a barrel. That is what is being passionately protected,” she said to applause.
She noted that of the Moore Foundation (Gordon Moore co-founded Intel) has put $267 million into organizations operating in Canada, of which 90 per cent was for activism. Tides Canada got $83 million, and First Nations groups got a combined total of $58 million.
Of the Moore Foundation’s $267 million, $115 million went to developing four marine plans for the West Coast of British Columbia, which want no pipelines, no tankers, and no trade infrastructure for exporting energy products off the northern B.C. coast, in the name of protecting the Great Bear.
OPEN and SAFE
“What concerns me most is that this campaign hasn’t kept one barrel of oil in the ground,” Krause said. That oil is simply being produced by other countries.
According to Krause, the Online Progressive Engagement Network (OPEN), based in California, reported they ended 2015 by moving the needle in the Canadian federal election and contributed greatly to the ousting of the Conservative Party of Canada as government.
OPEN is the parent organization of Leadnow, which was active in that election. Krause said she provided information about this to Elections Canada, but got nowhere.
All the various components of the anti-pipeline campaign trace back to 2003-04, not long after the beginning of the Iraq War and the California energy crisis, Krause said.
“These two events are really what triggered this group of California philanthropists to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get control of our global energy supply, our policy.’”
One of the organizations established at the time is Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), which was funded by some of the same foundations who funded the tar sands campaign. It is to protect American businesses from high and volatile oil prices.
In 2004, the Packard Foundation made a $15 million payment to start the Great Bear Rainforest. Another payment for $12 million were made to start the Canadian Boreal Initiative.
“As I was studying the history of this, it was very clear to me that the same charitable foundations wanted to get the West off Mideast oil. It was geopolitics, and it’s very clear in their explaining this,” she said. But she couldn’t explain the campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline.
The 2013 strategy paper she found made it clear to her that not only did they want to get the West off Mideast oil, “They also wanted to discourage investment in Canada. And if you think about it, 10 years ago, we were the best place to invest. The goal was to turn us from the best to the worst. That wouldn’t have happened if Keystone had gone ahead. Part of the strategy was to make investors nervous.”
Harper-era Canadian Revenue Agency audits into related charities found 41 of 42 in non-compliance, and many got funding they weren’t supposed to get. “All these charity audits were put on hold in 2015,” she said. The law has since been changed and charities are now unlimited in this regard.
In summary, she said there were four motivations of the American funders. “They want more renewable energy. They want more energy efficiency, and they want more energy security. All of that is good stuff.
“But then they have this fourth objective, and that is to landlock our country and keep Canada out of world oil markets. And that’s where I think we have to say no. Because we all want to make the very best use of every barrel of oil that we need to burn. But as we go on this green transition, no country, least of all Canada, should be benched out of the oil market.”
She said she was encouraged by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, saying, “Finally, we have Canadian politicians with the courage to take on the Rockefellers. So I think we need to make sure we continue to support them, let them know they’re not alone in this fight. This is no small ordeal. It’s a huge, daunting challenge.”
Documentary film on foreign funded campaigns targeting Canadian oil
Krause said she is making a documentary film “to get everybody up to speed.”
She had launched a $160,000 GoFundMe campaign on June 3 to back it. By June 24, it had raised $145,150 towards that goal, with 1,053 backers. The aim was to reach $160,000 by June 30, and ongoing progress throughout the month put it on track to coming close to, if not surpassing, that goal.
“We are hoping to get the film out this summer, well ahead of this fall. We need everyone to know what is going on,” Krause said.
The GoFundMe page noted a $10,000 and $5,000 anonymous donations, as well as donations attributed to names which match numerous oilpatch executives. Notable donors names GoFundMe lists include Scott LaPrairie, (CEO of LaPrairie Group of Companies), $4,500; W. Brett Wilson, $2,500; Compass Energy Systems, $1250; Alex Pourbaix (CEO of Cenovus), $1,000; Lyle Kallis (chair, Apex Oilfield Services), $1,000; Pat Ward (CEO of Painted Pony Energy), $1,000.