Dr. Dawg

Foreign influences: you choose

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tar sands.jpg

The Harper Conservatives continue to bang away on their well-worn anti-environmentalist drum. Pearl-clutching alarm about foreign donations to Canadian environmental organizations has generated a neo-McCarthyite Senate “inquiry” and frequent obtuse and defamatory remarks by Ministers. The attack dogs of the Canada Revenue Agency have been - unleashed upon the Tides Foundation environmental charity for being too “political.”

Opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline, according to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver (a kind of latter-day James Watt) comes from “radical groups,” while the Prime Minister’s Office calls pipeline opponents enemies of Canada and Environment Minister Peter Kent accuses them of money-laundering and treason.

Some environmental groups do get support from abroad (they have never hidden that fact), in particular from the US. There’s nothing surprising about that—we all inhabit the same planet, and Canadians share a continent with the Americans. Yet we are supposed to believe that this is sneaky and unCanadian.

But there are foreign influences and then there are foreign influences. The government sees nothing wrong, for example, with the conservative Fraser Institute receiving large sums of cash from the extreme-right American Koch brothers, who also, by the by, own a fair chunk of the oil patch.

On the other side of the pipeline debate, the Harper regime is hardly standing up for Canada. By now, the Alberta tar sands are mostly owned by foreigners, and that’s where the profits are going, too. Yet turning our natural resources over to non-Canadians, and incurring substantial environmental risks on their behalf, doesn’t seem to elicit a whisper of criticism from the Conservatives and their odious camp-followers.

The Harper government’s favourite anti-environment poster girl, Vivian Krause, was in town this week to offer testimony before the Finance Committee’s C-38 suncommittee, currently examining the government’s kitchen-sink omnibudget legislation. She had a lot to say about those subversive environmental charities, which was the reason, of course, that she had been invited.

A disinterested witness? Judge for yourselves:

She insists that she has no connection to any of the resource industries — oil, forestry, mining, farmed salmon — that her research appears to support. But after going ahead with research, she has received thousands of dollars in honorarium payments from some of these industry groups for conference speeches. And she has worked briefly as a federal Conservative staffer and unsuccessfully sought funding support for oil industry issues, Krause says.

Our intrepid researcher got her start by going after David Suzuki for campaigning against BC farmed salmon. She figured it was a plot to promote the Alaskan wild salmon fishery, and in effect she accused Suzuki of being an agent of a foreign power. Oddly, however, she has nothing at all to say about the major threats to the Canadian fishery posed by the Harper government.

Well, there’s nothing new about conservative hypocrisy. But the question, in any case, is really about which set of foreign influences Canadians would prefer. The Tea-Partying Koch brothers? China, gobbling up the tar sands? American oil companies lobbying here in Canada for the Northern Gateway pipeline under Harper’s benign gaze?

Or environmental groups, fighting for the health of the land we inhabit, for our coasts and our waterways?

The Conservative government and its allies have made their choice abundantly clear. What’s yours?

UPDATE: Via reader j.25.smith, a description of Vivian Krause’s “fair questioning” selectivity.

UPPERDATE: (May 23) More on Krause’s kooky thinking. [H/t]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on May 29, 2012 6:28 PM.

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