By Michelle Stirling © 2019
These are my personal opinions.
Markham Hislop recently wrote an article which appears to claim that Vivian Krause has come up with a conspiracy theory about foreign funding and pipeline/oil sands development in Canada – when in fact it is a matter of public record that foreign-funded environmental groups, most of them charities, have made a coordinated attack on the oil sands and other natural resource developments, with the help of millions of dollars from foreign sources. Let me present my argument. I have been following this story since 2005.
- Foreign funding to ENGOs to stop economic activity is very different than foreign funding to develop legal and approved economic activity that pays taxes, creates jobs and product streams, which creates more jobs and pays more taxes.
- Geopolitical games by transnational corporations and foundations operate at a level that is unelected and unaccountable, and through working directly or indirectly, or funding directly or indirectly certain ENGOs, favorable climate and energy policies can be established which appear to be from the ‘grassroots’ when they may not be.
- ENGOs are unelected, unaccountable and mostly unregulated; they are able to willingly make over-the-top statements or make misleading claims about various resource industries, laws, or policies – but industry is not able to fight back in the same way because essential service industries are highly regulated by governments and closely watched by shareholders, investors and regulatory agencies.
- “Non-profits” and “charities” play on the perceived moral virtue of not being a commercial enterprise, but they live off the subsidies of hard-working taxpayers while immorally putting thousands of people out of work and driving off the good will of investors who do want to make money, but who also share their profits with all via taxes, buying goods and services, making donations to the arts and social charities, and employing people in well-paying jobs.
- Following the implementation of the Alberta Climate Leadership plan, Hislop writes that this ‘collapsed’ the tar sands campaign, in fact it blossomed! The Prime Minister, aligning with ENGOs on Northern Gateway, cancelled the pipeline and established Bill C-48 (tanker ban), then ‘Tar Sands Campaign’ ENGOs went after the National Energy Board (NEB), turning it upside down and into Bill C-69. That has left most major projects in Canada and potential investors in limbo for 4 years, as reported by lawyer Terri-Lee Oleniuk of Blakes, during a University of Calgary law forum on Bill C-69. Many former ‘Tar Sands Campaigners’ were hired in-house in government, making it even easier to block progress. According to Counterpunch, that was the plan.
- Excerpts of “Money Matters” report: The revenues received by the ENGOs and their EnviroLaw counterparts over the period 200-2018 was over 18 times the revenues received by all federal political parties, and over 27 times the revenues received by the market oriented institutes.
- “Money Matters” The revenue received by the Tides organization alone is more than the combined revenues of Canada’s two largest federal political parties, the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada over the period.
- “Money Matters” The David Suzuki Foundation’s average annual revenues exceed the annual revenues of the federal New Democratic Party.
- “Money Matters” Eight ENGOs have annual revenues that exceed those of the governing Liberal Party of Canada.
- As Bank of Canada Governor Steve Poloz warned last week, investors have lost confidence in Canada, Canadian fossil fuel assets, particularly the oil sands, are ripe for vulture investors and market mayhem. Who is behind that? Was that the original plan? To dupe Canadians into locking in and giving up the third largest oil reserves in the world, that we own, on the premise that using our oil would kill the planet, while oil producing competitor nations laugh all the way to market and then to the bank.
Markham Hislop wrote a 9,000-word article, published May 14, 2019, in which he claims to debunk the work of Vivian Krause, the researcher who spent about a decade tracking the foreign-funding of the various Canadian environmental groups via IRS and CRA filings. Most of these environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) are federally registered charities, meaning that you and I subsidize them.
Hislop takes aim at what he calls Krause’s ‘conspiracy’ theories on the Tar Sands Campaign, as if she wears a tin-foil hat and got her numbers from playing with an Ouija board instead of painstakingly tracking records of the IRS, CRA and related annual filings.
Conspiracies normally take place in secret. So…what if it was all out in the open…but so open and vast it would be almost impossible to connect the dots. Not a ‘conspiracy’ but… a global plan.
Matthew Nisbet is a very accomplished, very prolific Professor of Communications at Northeastern University. He has contributed to dozens of journals and books on climate change communications. And he has been tracking this group of billionaires who have been running the “Design to Win” campaign for many years. Their plan is on-line, too.
In his 2011 ClimateShift report, climateshift_report_americanuniversity-updated nisbet 2011 he documents how a group of billionaire philanthropists combined forces in 2005 to create the “Design to Win” plan to fund local ENGOs worldwide, to push for global cap and trade systems, carbon pricing and renewables. In 2018, he published an update showing that hundreds of millions of dollars had been spent by these ‘green billionaires’ – most of whom have vested interests in renewables, on denigrating fossil fuels, millions on demarketing coal and phasing-out fossil fuels, millions on ‘social justice’ and pushing electric vehicles, cap and trade, carbon pricing and renewables.
Source: Excerpt of Nisbet (2018)
We find that the ClimateWorks partners are reported funders of the environmental groups that Vivian Krause has researched. Her reports on funding and activities match up with many aspects of the reports of Dr. Nisbet, though the Tar Sands Campaign (likely part of “OilTrain” in ClimateWorks docs) is just a small subset of the much larger ClimateWorks global plan. ClimateWorks partners want to set up global cap and trade systems, carbon pricing and put their vested interest renewables on the grid. So, they have been demarketing coal, oil, oil sands and to some extent, natural gas, and pushing electric vehicles as ‘the answer’ for over a decade. To do this, they have funded local ENGOs to create the aura of a ‘grassroots’ demand for climate and energy policies that favour their goals. They have done this worldwide, and as far as I can see, have no permission from any sovereign government to interfere in this way. It is not clear to what extent any Tar Sands Campaign partner might know of this plan.
The much larger plan was exposed in the ClimateWorks Podesta Wikileaks files where a full case study of the Design to Win plan was revealed. In this document it was revealed that McKinsey & Co., the world’s most influential management firm, was a key consultant to the project.
To cross reference the funding information, one can download the on-line Oak Foundations grant database like we did and see the many grants to Canadian ENGOs…and to international ENGOs – many of which are engaged in things like the UK Tar Sands Network or the efforts to denigrate Canadian oil sands product via the European fuel quality directive.
The facts are a matter of public record both online, open‐source vanity presses – such as Oak Foundation – as well as publicly available IRS‐990 filings. These are the facts repeated by many. They are not contestable. What Vivian Krause and Ron Arnold, and others have done is to “harvest” and aggregate them for analysis and interpretation. This information is readily available to any interested person. Why well‐paid and capable talented research journalists – like Markham Hislop – have been unwilling to check the source information is perhaps the biggest mystery.
The Tar Sands Campaign is a project of Corporate Ethics International, formerly CEI, now known as CorpEthics. Indeed, on CorpEthics website, in Michael Marx’ bio he claims to have managed 100 ENGOs in Canada, the US and Europe.
Who knew that the Tar Sands Campaign was in fact so international?
Here are a few selected grants to establish the case I present, but there are dozens more.
In Canada, we see that in this 2007 grant from the foreign Oak foundation, Greenpeace Canada (a non-profit, but not a charity) planned to enact its Phase-out Tar Sands by driving off investors and in its 2010 grant, by raising the risks of the oil sands in the minds of Members of Parliament.
Source: Close up excerpt of Oak Foundation grant to Greenpeace.
Original source of close up above.
In this grant (below) for the foreign Oak Foundation, we find TIDES Foundation (we assume in Canada) was given $700,000 in 2009 to fund research on the Athabasca river quality downstream from the oil sands.
Source: Oak grant database
This appears to have been the funding for one of the well-known Schindler/Kelly studies linking the oil sands to cancer. At the time of the release more than 20 ENGOs in Canada, all related to the Tar Sands Campaign, publicized the Schindler/Kelly findings across all media, causing a tremendous outcry across the country and indeed, around the world.
The CBC co-produced a documentary based on the uproar from that PNAS ‘contributed’ study. “The Tipping Point: Age of the Oil Sands” starred many key players from the Tar Sands Campaign-funded organizations. Only two oil sands defenders appeared on camera for a few minutes out of a ~2-hour documentary (Rob Renner, then Alberta Environment Minister and Don Thompson, then President of the Oil Sands Developers Group. Thompson had 35 years experience in the oil sands, compared to little-to-none for the activists) CBC told me other oil sands executives declined to appear, likely sensing a “drive-by shooting” in the offing.
The most important aspects of the documentary are the facts that were left out. I put many of them in my compilation of letters of complaint to the CBC. 
Here are some more examples of foreign funding and economic damage to Canada and to investors.
We see that West Coast Environmental Law was granted money to create a legislated tanker ban and it is noted in the grant description that this would cause the cancellation of Northern Gateway. It’s a small amount of money, but contrary to what Hislop reports, these ENGOs collaborate to amplify their powers.
Source: Oak Foundation database
Read: “Manufacturing a Climate Crisis” – a case study about West Coast Environmental Law’s activities.
We find the online document of the International Funders of Indigenous People where American Michael Marx of Corporate Ethics, lead organization of the Tar Sands Campaign, reports on how ENGOs in the US and Canada were going to collaborate on the Rethink Alberta Campaign – intended to smear and destroy Alberta’s tourism sector and drive off industry. He explains that ENGOs on both sides of the border and First Nations groups were working together to block Keystone XL in order to shut down the oil sands.
Source: International Funders for Indigenous Peoples 9th Annual Conference Report page 47
Climate Action Network (CAN), in an undated “Tar Sands Report” claimed Canada was not only exporting ‘dirty oil’ but also ‘dirty policies.’ For a bunch of folks that say they don’t collaborate, sure seems like they do. My count of the members of CAN who are literally ‘all on the same page’ comes up with 117 parties in the network, including major unions like CUPE and UNIFOR and major faith groups.
On the face of all this evidence, it is hard to see how Markham Hislop can claim there is no coordinated campaign – there obviously is. And billions of dollars in economic losses to Canadians and investors.
People might wonder why blocking pipelines could benefit these foreign billionaire groups who actually want cap and trade, to sell more of their vested interest renewables and to push carbon pricing.
Well, here’s a proposal as to why – by making Canadians believe we are a global pariah, we are willing to give up control of the oil sands – seeing it as a detriment to our reputation and a potential threat to the world. Vulture investors love that!
By talking us into locking in the Boreal Forest or Great Bear Rainforest, they are setting up the basis for using the forests as carbon sinks for carbon trading. In fact, two such large carbon trading projects exist right now – perhaps more. Remember the Great Bear Rainforest? Remember how Canadians threw in money to protect that rare Kermode Bear? Well, it’s a carbon trading property now.
Now about Darkwoods – Nature Conservancy of Canada has guaranteed it as a carbon sink for a hundred years, kind of a risky thing in a wildfire region. Who will pay the tab if it all goes up in smoke?
So, we are carbon dupes, Canada, and totally naïve to geopolitics.
The land locking of Canadian oil is certainly of benefit to other oil exporting nations; certainly, US producers benefit from our competition being pushed off the market as Vivian Krause has pointed out in the past; though they benefit, to me, it doesn’t seem like US oil producers are behind this campaign. It seems more likely that Canada and our economy are being squeezed to force us into carbon trading….in fact, shortly after Minister McKenna returned from the COP-21 Paris Agreement, this op-ed appeared…. “Trading for Tidewater.”
In some circles, this kind of arrangement might be known as a …shakedown.
While Hislop makes the case with all of his interviewees about Vivian Krause’s work that the ENGOs have only received nominal funding from foreign entities, here we see that Oak funded Tides in Canada to set up a $30 million fund (2010) – presumably drawn from Canadian philanthropies and corporations. (The other grants shown were in 2006 for media campaign and 2005 for Kyoto Protocol plan).
Source: Oak Foundation grant database.
Millions of dollars were poured into Quebec early on. Global Climate Change Action group – or tcktcktck.org – was funded to enlist unions and faith groups – both of which had existing large constituencies that could be easily converted to support climate catastrophe ideology by claims of profitable pension fund investment in renewables, or religious and moral mantras about virtuous acts of saving the planet. 
And…who is funding BankTrack – a group of some 40 ENGOs that regularly attack and harass banks who finance oil, oil sands, natural gas and coal projects? (Answer – I don’t know but would like to know)
Who funded the Global Climate Change Action group in Montreal for millions of dollars – a group that now claims to have 470 partner ENGOs in 70 countries worldwide, all opposed to fossil fuels? No collaboration? Come on, Markham!
It is hard to believe that a journalist with the credentials of Markham Hislop was unable to find this information, because I found most of it by using google and…following the money.
In fact, the ‘conspiracy’ has elevated itself to transnational levels with the development of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment group – whose guru on ESG is Al Gore. And the Rockefeller Philanthropic Advisors’ charity called the CDP Worldwide – or Carbon Disclosure Project. This innocent sounding charity invites cities and corporations to voluntarily report their carbon footprint and any local ‘climate change events’ – this information is aggregated into a report by a firm like PwC or Accenture – and then UNPRI investors decide to invest according to the report’s “Black” or “White” list ratings on who is producing ‘clean’ energy or who is ‘dirty’. Thus, as a corporation, reporting your climate risk footprint in good faith makes you a target to green fanatics and activist investors.
That’s what happened to the oil sands in 2016 when CDP issued this report.
It is a matter of public record that many banks, institutional investors (who are signatory to the UNPRI) and major transnational corporations have funded ENGOs to buy them ‘social license’ or to push for things that benefit their vested interests, directly or indirectly.
Case in point?
David Suzuki Foundation. Funded by Power Corporation since 2007.
Source: Power Corporation CDP Report
David Suzuki Foundation pushed for coal phase-out in Alberta…pushed the Alberta NDP government climate plan with a submission for the implementation of renewables, especially wind.
Source: Cover of David Suzuki Fund submission to Alberta Climate Panel.
Power Corporation has a renewables subsidiary.
Now, Power Corporation’s subsidiary is building a wind farm in Jenner, Alberta!
What a happy coincidence!
We can confirm that Vivian Krause is certainly on the right track with her research. We have issued four reports that Robert Lyman produced independently. Robert Lyman is a former public servant and diplomat who spent decades in government in senior policy positions advising on things like the Kyoto Accord, GHG reductions in the Transport Division of Environment Canada – and Robert expands the scope of Vivian’s work and shows us the impacts on the Canadian economy.
Other than the evidence shown, we cannot ascribe intent or motivation to any of the individuals or groups involved, but – we can see the outcome.
Bill C-48, the tanker ban, killed a major pipeline project that had been approved by the NEB. Some ENGOs were overjoyed.
Perhaps to ensure Northern Gateway could not be revived and that Trans Mountain would be held up forever, ENGOs then went after the NEB to turn its 60 year track record of excellence, it’s fair and thorough, highly technical process upside down.
That became the contentious BillC-69.
We know the outcome of all this activity by ENGOs is that US energy investment banker, PPHB, has stated in its newsletter “Musings” that Canada has become “hostile” to investment.
Source: PPHB “Musings” April 27, 2018
How did that happen?
Over a decade of international smearing of the oil sands reputation, harassing of bankers, insurers and investors, over a decade of driving up regulatory and operational costs by The Tar Sands Campaign and all its actors. And this came on the heels of decades of attacks on the forestry industry in the “War of the Woods” using similar tactics.
And no one fighting back for the oil sands – until now.
Until Premier Jason Kenney.
Citing the research of Vivian Krause. So, of course the ‘greens’ must delegitimize her!
Underlying the Tar Sands Campaign has always been the claim that our ‘dirty oil’ was more destructive to the world than anything else – because it had higher carbon dioxide emissions.
In fact, two leaders of foreign-funded ENGOs, Marlo Raynolds of Pembina Institute and Steven Gilbeault of Equiterre were the first to call oil sands production ‘dirty oil’ – back in 2008. How patriotic of them!   (Both are now in federal government advisory capacities.)
Contrary to Hislop’s reported claims by Simon Dyer of Pembina that there was no climate change legislation or environmental management of the oil sands a decade ago, the Alberta government had implemented the Climate Change and Environment legislation in 2002 – 16 years ago! The first legislation of its kind in North America.
I personally know there was careful attention to the oil sands on the environmental and climate issues because I worked at Alberta Environment in 2005. I had to interview many of the field experts on environmental issues in Alberta – they were all scientifically qualified and very balanced in their comments.
The ClimateWorks campaign is all about the alleged human causation of climate change – because without climate hysteria you have no reason for cap and trade or carbon pricing or renewables. With climate hysteria, you also have a means to constantly create make-work industries at the expense of taxpayers.
For instance, you build a wind farm telling the public it is ‘free’ or ‘cheaper than coal’ – only later do they find out they need to add a $1.4 billion natural gas plant or risk blackouts, plus they have to pay for billions in transmission lines and IT upgrades to manage fluctuating wind power. But that’s good business for whoever invested in it – and the wind farms typically guarantee your rate of income for 20-40 years, even if output of energy is tiny by comparison to investment. The climate change claim is that wind and solar farms are renewables – but nope. They all have to be backed up with a natural gas plant (or large hydro facilities).
Google engineers found that wind and solar do not stop climate change, after years of research and an unlimited budget. Bill Gates says “…let’s quit jerking around with wind and solar…” But wind and solar do generate trade-able Renewable Energy Certificates and subsidies by the boat load. And everyone of the Tar Sands Campaign ENGOs pushes for….carbon price, renewable energy, phase-out coal and phase-out oil sands.
Now here’s the problem.
Since 2002, the science community has found that carbon dioxide is not the main driver of climate change. By 2013 the IPCC reported there had been no statistically significant warming since 2012.
Source: IPCC AR5 Working Group I report
And today we have dozens of studies showing that the effect of carbon dioxide on global warming is nominal. Scientists miscalculated the effect of carbon dioxide, but climate campaigners and the ‘clean-growth’ industry paid no attention as scientists began to turn the ‘carbon Titanic’ around – if anything, the ‘green billionaires’ and ENGOs ramped up the hysteria, rather like Festinger reports on the Failed Prophecies of Cults. Now it has accelerated to the level of ‘climate emergency’ and a 16 year old girl is on the cover of TIME, dressed in green. She is telling the adults what to do, while others tell her what to do.
So, all the efforts to impose carbon taxes, cap and trade – to lock in Alberta oil until we gave in to the CO2 coercion, and to kill the oil sands…that was all for naught. It was foreign interference in domestic climate and energy policies, enacted in a subversive manner that perhaps even key players did not understand. (See Lenin: useful idiots)
Now environmental groups in Canada have amassed hundreds of millions, billions of dollars in revenues and physical assets. It is the cumulative nature of funding; the draw-down from the tax pool for all their special projects (as per our “Green” ENGO series of reports above). Many ENGOs have more far more money than political parties. And now, the federal government has given them free rein to use that power politically (where once they were limited to only employing 10% of their funds for politics).
But their power has its roots in those millions of dollars of seed funding from foreign sources with an agenda. And Canadians have unwittingly, for the most part, also tax-subsidized the federally registered ENGO charities that have played such a key role in destroying our resource economy and blocking access to world markets.
In my personal opinion, any policies driven by these foreign-funded ENGOs should be circumspect and rescinded, overturned, and a full inquiry made into the damage caused to the Canadian economy.
Please read our reports and understand what we’re up against. (Report: Unfriend ENGOS)
And send your thanks to Vivian Krause for her curiosity, courage and desire to get the story straight.
Michelle Stirling is the Communications Manager for Friends of Science Society, a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, AAAS, and APA.
Over the past decade, I have spoken with Vivian Krause about 3 times by telephone, primarily to get approval to cite some of her research in a blog post or report, and to properly frame some other information I wanted to present. I have met her informally at about 3 events where we chatted for a few minutes. I don’t represent her, we don’t represent her, and we don’t work with her or have any association or contractual arrangement with her or any other group or industry. We gathered the data for our reports on ENGO funding and assets independently through our own research from public records.