Vivian Krause is not a conspiracy theorist

Mark Milke, Toronto Sun, June 26, 2019


For anyone who paid attention to policy debates over energy and resource development in the last 15 years, the name Vivian Krause is synonymous with investigative journalism.

Krause noticed a pattern most journalists didn’t: American money, from wealthy individuals and U.S. foundations, were flowing into policy and political efforts to stymie Canada’s resources sector, especially Alberta’s energy and cross-country pipeline development. Foreign money was even trying to influence Canadian elections.

To her credit, Krause discovered that the size of U.S. foundation endowments, and annual donor budgets to Canada, was substantial, especially for progressive environmental priorities. 

Let’s review what Krause has found over the years. In the mid-2000s, some anti-resource groups in Canada began to seek and receive money from American foundations and wealthy individual to attack Canada’s energy sector. One group, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, gave $200-million to activist groups in British Columbia alone between 2003 and 2018.

Krause also found that in another, the anti “Tar Sands” campaign, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the Sea Change Foundation, the Tides Foundation and other charitable foundations provided at least $75-million for campaigns to stymie pipelines and lock in the oil sands.

The U.S.-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund to denigrate Alberta’s oil sands was worth $7-million alone, and in 2008, the Calgary-based Pembina Institute received some of that money. In one document, the Rockefeller Fund highlighted the Pembina Institute’s role and listed a staffer as a key Canadian contact. Pembina has opposed one resource project after another with the help of U.S. money.

That coordinated flow of foreign money – mostly American, and from large non-governmental organizations and foundations – distorted our domestic debate over the future of the Canadian energy industry. Foreign-funded groups even interfere in Canada’s political process, including taking credit for defeating Conservative candidates in the 2015 federal election. Leadnow, in its own post-election 2015 report entitled Defeating Harper, summarized how effective its campaign was in the 2015 general election. “The Conservatives were defeated in 25 out of 29 ridings, and . . .  in the seats the Conservatives lost, our recommended candidate was the winner 96 per cent of the time.”

Because the media is reporting on Krause’s work with more interest and frequency, the groups she has exposed now label her a conspiracy theorist. It’s a political tactic means to disqualify her from the debate and silence her. Yet, Krause is listened to because her research is solid. The fact is that American foundations have substantial endowments and that can have a huge impact on Canadian public policy, and negative, if directed to shutting down an entire sector such as energy. 

For example, in their 2012 book, The New Leviathan, which looked at the size of American foundations, David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin calculated that as of 2009—just about the time some U.S. foundations started to substantially fund anti-oil and gas advocacy in Canada, the financial assets of 115 major tax-exempt foundations which the authors identified as liberal and progressive were worth almost U.S.$105  billion and gave out $8.8-billion annually with 75 foundations they categorized as conservative worth $10.3 billion and disbursed about $800-million annually. 

The dollar amounts show that American foundations can be quite powerful vis-à-vis Canada if only a sliver of them turn their attention north. That is what happened in energy debates over the last 15 years in Canada, including interference in at least one federal election.

Mark Milke is a contributor to Canadians for Affordable Energy. His latest book is Ralph vs Rachel: A tale of Two Alberta Premiers. Photo credit: Pixabay

Mark Milke