Erin Weir, an economist with the United Steelworkers, sends along the following video of his appearance before the finance committee last night.
Kady O’Malley points with similar concern to an exchange between Peggy Nash and Vivian Krause during finance committee hearings on Monday. Here is the transcript of that exchange, along with Ms. Nash’s subsequent questions for Jamie Ellerton of Ethical Oil.
Peggy Nash: Thank you very much. My time is short so I’ll try to be brief and succinct in my questions. Ms. Krause, you have made some serious, I don’t know if you call it allegations, but you’ve raised some serious concerns with respect to foreign money in Canadian charities skewing the public debate. Is that a fair assessment of what you’re saying? I’d just like to ask you, do you have any concrete evidence that you’d like to put before the committee today?
Vivian Krause: Sure. The reason I’ve said that I feel the public debate has been skewed is because some groups are saying that they want all voices to be heard, when in fact they’re only funding voices that are all of the same position. In the case of the Enbridge pipeline, for example, groups are saying, “We want everybody to be heard,” but they’re only funding people who are against it, so it’s like putting the finger on the scale and tipping it.
Peggy Nash: I presume the oil industry, for example, which invests about $20 billion foreign investment in Canada, they are on the other side of the debate. I don’t presume they’re funding the Suzuki Foundation in the interests of diversity of opinion. What’s wrong with advancing a position that you support?
Vivian Krause: I think that’s just a different issue entirely.
Peggy Nash: Why?
Vivian Krause: Because the oil industry, for one, everyone has known for a long time that there’s foreign investment, that there’s foreign money, it’s been relatively out in the open.
Peggy Nash: But everyone knows that Canadians are entitled to fund foreign charities. We send money to other countries, not only for disaster relief, humanitarian aid, we also do human rights work and support democracy in other countries. So this is the kind of thing that we also receive here in Canada. I don’t know how you began doing this work. I know you’re a former Conservative staff member. You’ve done some work for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Vivian Krause: No, I have not.
Peggy Nash: You’ve worked in the salmon fishing industry. I’d like to know, the work that you do, how is that funded today?
Vivian Krause: You’ve raised a number of things. First of all, I have never worked for the petroleum producers as you said.
Peggy Nash: Did they not pay you to speak?
Vivian Krause: Yes, they paid me a $5,000 honorarium. It doesn’t mean I did any work for them. All the research that I did was done long before I gave that talk. I’d just like to come back to the point that you made about foreign philanthropy. I’m all for foreign philanthropy—I worked with the United Nations for 10 years—but I think Canada should be on the giving end. American foundations are on track to spend—
Peggy Nash: I have such little time, unfortunately. Your work, who is funding that today? Is that philanthropic on your part?
Vivian Krause: No. My work has not been funded by anyone. I felt this was an important matter of public interest. I tried to find someone who would fund it and I failed. I couldn’t find any—
Peggy Nash: You seem to have captured the ear of the federal government, so you must be a very good researcher. I’d like to ask a—
Vivian Krause: It took me five years.
Peggy Nash: Pardon me?
Vivian Krause: It took five years.
Peggy Nash: That’s great. I’d like to ask a question to Mr. Ellerton. Your organization, EthicalOil, is something that has grown very quickly in the public eye, because if I remember it was Mr. Levant from Sun Media who raised this as a concept, and it seemed to very quickly explode on the public scene. I’d just like to ask you why you think this has developed so quickly in the public consciousness. I know there’s many people who work for EthicalOil, who have connections to the Conservative Party, and there’s also been a lot of support through Sun Media. Why do you think this idea has captured such attention when it may take decades for other ideas to capture the public imagination?
Jamie Ellerton: I think if you look at all the public attention that energy needs are facing, and with movements like Fair Trade Coffee, people are being very conscious of where products they consume are sourced from, so an idea like EthicalOil, where you differentiate where your oil comes from and to be more informed about, that you choose EthicalOil from a place like Canada and other western liberal democracies, rather than to continue to rely on conflict oil which you’d import from OPEC—say Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Venezuela—that is catching on with Canadians, because I think it speaks to them, it speaks to their patriotism, it speaks to the values they care about, values like the environment, like human rights, like respect for workers.
Peggy Nash: Thanks very much. I just get one last quick question: funding for your organization is from where?
Jamie Ellerton: EthicalOil accepts donations from any Canadian or Canadian businesses.
Peggy Nash: Do you have any financial ties to the petroleum industry?
Jamie Ellerton: EthicalOil accepts money from any Canadian or Canadian business and that would include organizations that produce Canada’s ethical oil.
Peggy Nash: Thank you very much.