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not all is equal. what choice will you make?

Northern Gateway: Our decision —not foreign billionaires’

Ethical Oil January 2, 2012

Beginning on January 10, the federal government will open public hearings to determine whether to approve a new pipeline to deliver oil from Alberta’s oil sands to the B.C. coast, where it can be shipped to new markets overseas.  More than 200 groups have registered as interveners in the hearings and more than 4,500 people will testify before the panel: every single one of them will have a chance to make a case to the three-member environmental and regulatory review panel, where they can argue for, or against, the Northern Gateway project.

One of those registered interveners is a group called Forest Ethics. You may have heard of Forest Ethics recently: they’re the hardcore environmentalist group that pressured Chiquita bananas to announce a boycott of Canada’s oil sands oil. What you may not know about Forest Ethics is that they’re an American organization, headquartered in San Francisco. The group says it plans to argue that the pipeline, which could ship more than half-a-million barrels of Canadian oil a day to a port in Kitimat, B.C., “is not in the national interest.” Read that again: Activists from San Francisco, California, U.S.A., are going to try to convince the Canadian government that a significant energy project is not in our national interest. The Northern Gateway may be the right move for Canada; it may not be. But since when did Canadians choose to let foreign interest groups make those kinds of decisions for us?

But in the campaign against Northern Gateway, Forest Ethics will be joined by a horde of other foreign and foreign-backed groups, all teaming up to try and tell us, to tell the government that we elected, that Canada should not go ahead with this project. These organizations pretend to speak on behalf of Canadians. They sometimes even claim to be Canadian. In reality, they use money from powerful foreign interests to sustain their campaigns against our oil sands and any projects, like Northern Gateway, that help us develop this important resource.  These groups don’t answer to the Canadian public; they answer to their rich, foreign paymasters.

The Ecojustice Canada Society is one group fighting expansion of our oil sands development. It has a Canadian name, but it has actually relied on more than a quarter-million dollars from the multi-billion-dollar U.S.-based Hewlett trust to fund its fights (links here and here). The Pembina Environmental Foundation has an office in Alberta, but between 2003 and 2009, it cashed cheques worth more than $2.8 million from its non-Canadian backers to oppose development of Canadian oil (links here, here, here, here, here, here and here)

It’s true that the West Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation represents the west coast: the U.S. west coast. Its campaign against oil tanker traffic in B.C. waters has been backed by nearly $100,000 in grants from the Wilburforce Foundation in Seattle (link here). It has also been paid by the New York-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund to fight to “prevent the development of a pipeline and tanker port” in British Columbia, according to U.S. tax returns. That Rockefeller money comes from a vast family fortune made in American oil production. Prospering from energy resources is apparently just fine if the Rockefellers are the ones doing the prospering, but their fund wants to use the power that wealth brings to try to keep Canada’s energy prosperity down.

Of course, the Rockefellers are pikers compared to the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, which channels American donor money to sponsor a web of anit-oil sands front groups. Between 2009 and 2010, Tides paid an astonishing $2.2 million to a group called Corporate Ethics, which in 2010 ran an ad campaign urging tourists to boycott Canada (definitely not in our national interest) over our oil development (links here, here, here, here and here). Tides also paid a quarter of a million dollars in 2010 to Environmental Defense Canada, a group that calls the oil sands “the dirtiest project on earth” and is fighting to have them shut down.

Letting foreign groups and governments exert influence over how we manage our national affairs isn’t something Canadians normally take lightly. Elections Canada actually prohibits foreign money being used for federal campaign promotions, to stop non-Canadian interests from manipulating our vote. When it comes to important decisions about Canada’s future, we all recognize that Canadians should be the ones making the call.

And the Northern Gateway project is a call we absolutely need to get right — a call we need to make sure in Canadians’ interests and not those of foreign groups who want to interfere in our domestic affairs.

Every Canadian, whether a supporter of Northern Gateway or not, must agree that we shouldn’t ever permit outsiders to dictate what’s best for us. Federal natural resource minister Joe Oliver has said that, by opening up oil sands exports to sizeable and growing energy-hungry markets beyond the United States, this pipeline promises to deliver Canada “hundreds of thousands of new jobs, trillions [of dollars] in economic benefits,” and still billions more dollars in the form of taxes and royalties.

Clearly, Canadians have a lot riding on this. And whichever way the Northern Gateway decision goes, Canadians will be the ones to realize the consequences. The foreign billionaires using these groups to fight our industries don’t care if we create thousands of jobs for Canadians, or if we find new opportunities to improve our education and health care systems. Certain countries that compete with Canada for export markets might well prefer to see our national ambitions frustrated.

But Canadians have worked too hard setting this nation up for success to start giving outsiders veto power over our plans for our future. The Northern Gateway panel has already agreed to let foreign-funded groups intervene in their hearings; our federal government—elected by us, to represent us—should do whatever necessary to ensure that it doesn’t let these foreign-backed groups interfere in our decision.

Comments (55)

    • Mark Umpirowicz January 3, 2012 at 01:10

      “Who is going to not get a kickback if the pipeline is not built?” You make no sense……

  1. This whole organization and website is misleading. Ethical Oil?? Are you kidding me?! This is nothing but propaganda by corporate big business. As for your arguments about foreign special interest groups being behind opposition to the tar sands and proposed pipelines, take a look at all the foreign companies that own substantial interests in the tar sands… Even our own federal government is a puppet to these foreign interests. Why are federal government environment scientists being fired and pressured not too publish legitimate scientific evidence refuting industrial claims that the environment is not being significantly impacted by these operation? Wake up people, we are raping the land and leaving a terrible legacy for future generations, all so foreign interests make huge profits.

    • Mother nature sure left a mess in the Oil sands of Alberta, poluted land, oil leeking into rivers. The extraction process leaves the land cleaner, healthyer and beautiful. Go there sometime see the ugly before picture and the parks that are left behind. The open pit mines are like a reno in progress; they are not how the land is left. Rape? Really the land is redeemed by the oil companies.

      • Are you kidding me?

        Strip mining of tar sands oil product is not a “renovation”. For example, it takes several gallons of water, usually fresh water, to produce one barrel of oil from tar sands. It also requires the use of toxic chemicals to help make the oil flow through a pipeline system. The waste from all this processing ends up in tailings ponds which are toxic “lakes” which have sadly killed birds and these toxins are leaching into area river systems and ground water. The strip mining often requires tearing down boreal forest that has been untouched for its entire existence. It also appears that tar sands mining may be interfering with migration of wildlife such as caribou.

        You seriously believe this is an improvement on just leaving the environment alone?

        • Don’t change the subject – the god nature sure left a mess in Athabasca. All the reptiles that were killed due to the tar sands over the eons. Boy, let’s see you hypocrite shed some tears on that.

          500 birds killed? More get eaten by domestic cats. Stop being a fool.

        • Though there is strip mining taking place, most of the oilsands is being recovered through SAGD operations. Most of the water used is being recycled. Do you not read any information the Oil Companies put out? Their biggest problem is that they don’t publish enough of their achievements.

          • Wrong, 55% is mining. SAGD is growing. SAGD has higher emissions in wells to wheels calculation. Royal Society of Canada acknowledges very little is know about the impacts of SAGD. I read the info companies put out with a grain of salt because their economic interests are at the base of what they say. Their achievements are important but its 1 step forward, 2 back.

    • Heh – you had to slag this website without telling us where it is wrong? What about all the financial evidence uncovered?

    • I worked at Suncor at the Steepbank mine in march of last year – 2011 – . everyday I drove over a road that passed a nice big field with grasses, shrubs, trees and deer roaming about. There were also birds flying and I saw the occasional coyote and I thought to myself hey that’s pretty neat. Then I came upon a sign that said it was a reclaimed tailings pond. Neat eh?

      • How nice, too bad it won’t be certified for 40 years and they had to take the previous tailings and move them to another pond…

  2. Proud Canadian! January 2, 2012 at 21:58

    To the negative people if you don’t like Canadian oil — come up with an alternative form of energy. We are not desperate just tired of being put down about our oil.
    We don’t need the XL pipeline we have countries that want our oil.

    • I have an alternative. Let’s all move to caves and kill each other off, so that the god nature is happy. Just ask the 1% reactionary socialist environut that are fear mongering – they will surely agree.

  3. January 2, 2012 at 22:38

    No one in their right mind can take this seriously. We have to get off oil. Look to alternatives.
    Ironically, change starts with the people. The leaders will follow.

      • Wind, solar, geothermal, bio-fuel, hydrogen fuel cells.

        I agree that for a generation or two we will still need to produce oil to meet society’s demands, but we need to start now to develop alternatives and build an infrastructure to make the switch.

      • implement a policy that internalizes the costs of energy production and bam you’ll have alternatives all over the place

  4. January 2, 2012 at 22:40

    PS: The federal government was elected with 39% of the vote popular vote. Stop kidding yourself.

  5. When will “Ethical Oil” stop sabotaging Canada’s environment with its foreign fricking fracking?

  6. On web page you claim that Corporate Ethics International was given hundreds of thousands of dollars from a foreign organization. Yet when I review the documents provided as proof, I don’t see “Corporate Ethics International” listed as a recipient of foreign donations.

    • China is only one part of the picture. Shell is a Dutch company that has interests in the oil sands as well as Chevron, Devon, Exxon Mobil, Total and the list goes on.

  7. All of you against Alberta Oil have absolutey no ideas or even suggestions on how else I can put food on the table for my kids, provide health care for all who need it, all while giving a world class education to our children starting today. Thus, everything you say is mindless drabble until you do.

    • I think you mistake criticism of how this resource is being developed for an attempt to deny you an ability to make a living… IF this resource was developed in a responsible manner, that there was open dialogue with the public… that “secret” Environment Canada presentations didn’t appear after the Minister makes statements totally the opposite of his internal presentations… if if if…

      I work in the oil and gas industry neighbour and we both know it is far far far from the most transparent industry in town… get rid of the credibility gap, and develop in a responsible manner and people might begin to trust what the government says on this resource and the companies… but it is hard to leap that credibility gap given the current evidence… The industry must work worldwide to improve its reputation for developing in a responsible manner… How can one company be said to produce ethical oil in one country and be the fountain of all corruption and misery in another… I get it I do… I’ve worked well over a decade in the international oil and gas industry, and during that time I’ve seen all manner of nonsense…

      The industry needs to have a real swing towards ethical behaviour not just lip service… then people might start to listen to it… we all drive our cars, use our plastic devices, etc… etc… etc… but that doesn’t mean we have to accept record profits for shareholders, and a total dereliction of duty to the rest of the stakeholders… irresponsible development, lying and a lack of transparency has swung the pendulum so far now nobody believes anything the companies say or the government on this issue…

      • You mean 20,000 pages of environmental studies to get a permit is “irresponsible”? LOL – how many more pages do you need?

        Face it, the impact is minor and it’s only the 1% victim-mongerers and fear-mongerers who are upset, probably because they are losers or work for gov.

      • if you don’t want to accept record profits for shareholders then sell your stocks, or buy some. Whatever.

  8. Forest Ethics also has a Canadian office in Vancouver. I’d challenge the idea that just because they have a US office, this equates them being a “foreign environmental group” trying to influence Canadian policy.

    The spokesperson Nikki Skuce is identified as living in Smithers, BC.

    • LOL – conspiracy theory? You mean the financial records evidence that Tides Foundation is paying fake astroturfs like Wilderness Committee is no evidence?

      And this from a leftist that believes the world is run by Bilderberg?

      • I love that they call the wilderness committee, an org. that has been around for 40 years is called astroturf and this website, set up last summer by a Harper staffer is not… smells fishy (get it because that’s your name)

  9. until ethical oil lists it’s donors and the amount they give any comments about funding to other organizations is not right, its hypocritical, its unethical.

  10. The oil sands is controlled in large part by the Chinese government now, which in turns spends millions lobbying the federal government for decreased regulation.

    Whatever these environmental organizations receive is a pittance compared to the billions in Communist Chinese money which are influencing Canadian policy.

    • Hmmmm…Chinese spending billions of dollars in Canada creating jobs, paying taxes and will continue so for years.

      • By china is unethical duh? Ethics not money is how energy policy in this country is determined…at least according to this website and Mr. PM

    • Turbo Liberal. Your name suggests you were part of PET’s drive for the National Energy Program which screwed Canada. Good thing the Liberals are virtually non-existant

  11. how about we stop all corporate sponsorship and lobbying of the government… then in exchange the NGO’s won’t accept any foreign aid money… hmmm… guess what no way are the companies going to give up their influence over our government… but I bet if any corporate ties to government were made illegal, enforced, and punished severely they’d jump all over not taking any foreign funding… this is a hypocritical article… silly in the extreme…

    • That is how you destroy an economy. Stupid government idiots that don’t know anything about business making decisions that put business out of business. No business, no jobs. How much clearer can that be.

      • Well said. These envirotards are just looking for an opportunity to shake others down. They should know that shakedown is unethical.

    • LOL – so you admit NGOs are taking foreign money. That is exactly what this article says. While corporate contributions is far less than individual contributions, and is all Canadian.

      Usual leftist tactic: compare apples with oranges.

      • who gives a toss if they are funding enviro groups in Canada… I’m more interested in how much money is used by corporations to influence the government of this country… those corporations are not “Canadian”… they are international conglomerates doing exactly what you are complaining that the NGO’s are doing… I’m confused… so only the foreign owned oil and gas companies are allowed to use their money to lobby and influence the government… environmental groups aren’t allowed to do the same??? I’m about as far from leftist as you can get… I work in the industry and am well acquainted with the Oil and Gas tactics, and their performance in the international arena I see it every day of my work life for the last 15 years… What I think is the height of stupid is complaining that Enviro groups are receiving foreign money and lobbying with it while we say an international Oil and Gas conglomerate can??? it’s an open door statement to give ammunition to the enviro groups… to criticize oil and gas companies… This industry is its own worst enemy, and these type of arguments don’t help it…

        • Let us know who you are, because I guarantee you won’t be working in the industry. i worked in the industry for years, and there is nothing wrong with it.

          • Robmax, if you worked in the industry for years and see it as the height of transparency and corporate responsibility you have lived a very sheltered life in this industry my friend… I’ve been in 9 different countries in the last 15 years in this industry and seen some most seriously questionable corporate practices… do a little research and get back to me… AND some of the companies who were responsible for the foreign nonsense are in our oil sands… does our government do no due dilligence before signing agreements with companies???

        • LOL – how funny. Enbridge is a Canadian owned corporation and NOT a foreign corporation. And the people they hire get paid in Canada and pay taxes to Canada.

          Compare this to the astroturf environuts who get American money under the table to influence policy, and probably never pay taxes.

          What makes you think that corporations, foreign or otherwise, influence government policies? It’s the media that influences policies, and who is the squeeky wheel and the victim-mongerer and fear-mongerer on the media? It is the NGOs, including foreign paid NGOs with an agenda to take Canada into poverty.

          In Canada, you can lobby, but you can’t directly influence. Best method of lobby is sensational headlines. Guess which frigging side has perfected media relations?

          Have you ever seen an urgent positive media flash?: “Pipeline to increase Canada GDP per capita by $xxx dollars.”

          I am curious, how do the oil & gas companies give ammunition to the envirotards?

          • The people that give ammunition to the “envirotards” are people like the ones that write this article… because now the “envirotards” have an excuse to dig in and investigate how much industrial money is spent on lobbying this and past governments and that my friends will prove a much larger and significantly more stinky pile of scandal I promise you that… Industry has to be squeaky clean, transparent, engaging with all stakeholders… They never are, they are their own worst enemy in this and always will be… example: when the Enviro Minister says there is no pollution from the industry in the river, and then a few months later a “secret” Environment Canada presentation slips out under FOI with a lot of points to the contrary… the credibility gap gets that little bit wider between industry/government and the rest of the stakeholders… When a foreign owned oil and gas conglomerate is an environmental disaster in a foreign country, you can be sure they are going to take a beating on the home front argument… You can’t have that credibility gap and expect to win this in the long run the “envirotards” as you call them will consistently find the chinks in the armour and exploit them ruthlessly…

            The enviro crowd have good media headlines because the oil and gas companies set themselves up for it… One of the primary problems is companies are driven by shareholder returns rather than stakeholder returns… oil and gas extraction makes mountains of money in profit… and still the companies set themselves up for a beating in the media because they elect short term profit over long term responsible development…

          • LOL, corporations are not in the charity business. Stakeholders? You mean a bunch of whiner losers who smell an opportunity to hold a corporation hostage?

            Social assistance is the job of the government and is partly financed through corp. taxes. Corps are in the production business not in welfare and handout business. You need to understand the difference between a company with a purely economic mandate and an NGO with a political or social mandate. To each his own. The corp. does not go around and tell you how to work. So you better return the respect and stop telling them to act as a charity.

            BTW, what makes you think there is excess profits in business? Why dont you get into business and come down from your high horse and learn the realities on the ground? You sure sound like a loser stakeholder.

          • Fisher… you need to do a bit more reading on Management Theory and Business Models… I’m not speaking from a high horse I’m speaking from 15 years of practical international experience in the oil and gas industry across 9 countries… in every phase of the oil and gas industry… This industry is its own worst enemy because they more or less never act in a transparent manner… and because of it always end up getting caught out by groups critical of their activities…

  12. Quick question: Is it still ethical oil once its shipped to China? Isn’t China as bad as the Middle East in terms of “ethics”? Not that I’m against foreign capital inflows, mind you…

    Also, is China’s oilsands investment “ethical”?

    • LOL – how silly. Mideast oil to China is unethical at source, and it goes to China. But Canadian oil is ethical and goes to China.

      Do you intellectually challenged leftists see a difference?

  13. Yeah right Ethical Oil.. We do accept donations from individuals and companies, including those working to produce ethical oil. The book ethical oil was written by a tobacco industry lobbyist now looking for a more lucrative gig. Try reading the Tyranny of Oil and you’ll recognize this website is simply a fifth column financed by multinational oil companies to intefere in Canadian Politics for their own profits.

  14. Dial 1 800 Oil Spill January 8, 2012 at 03:52

    Anybody notice a theme with this company… quite a record for these guys… very impressive… NOT! more like a process safety nightmare… though they seem to operate south of the border as well… should we not listen to our neighbours to the south who have had to live with this companies oil spills as well and environmental violations during construction??? Personally I’d like to hear from the environmental officers in Wisconsin, and see what tale they have to tell about the competency and professionalism of this company.

    Using data from Enbridge’s own reports, the Polaris Institute calculated that 804 spills occurred on Enbridge pipelines between 1999 and 2010. These spills released approximately 168,645 barrels (26,812.4 m3) of hydrocarbons into the environment.

    On July 4, 2002 an Enbridge pipeline ruptured in a marsh near the town of Cohasset, Minnesota in Itasca County, spilling 6,000 barrels (950 m3) of crude oil. In an attempt to keep the oil from contaminating the Mississippi River, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources set a controlled burn that lasted for 1 day and created a smoke plume about 1-mile (1.6 km) high and 5 miles (8.0 km) long.

    In 2006, there were 67 reportable spills totaling 5,663 barrels (900.3 m3) on Enbridge’s energy and transportation and distribution system; in 2007, there were 65 reportable spills totaling 13,777 barrels (2,190.4 m3).

    On March 18, 2006, approximately 613 barrels (97.5 m3) of crude oil were released when a pump failed at Enbridge’s Willmar terminal in Saskatchewan. According to Enbridge, roughly half the oil was recovered, the remainder contributing to ‘off-site’ impacts.

    On January 1, 2007 an Enbridge pipeline that runs from Superior, Wisconsin to near Whitewater, Wisconsin cracked open and spilled ~50,000 US gallons (190 m3) of crude oil onto farmland and into a drainage ditch. The same pipeline was struck by construction crews on February 2, 2007, in Rusk County, Wisconsin, spilling ~126,000 US gallons (480 m3) of crude. Some of the oil filled a hole more than 20 feet (6.1 m) deep and was reported to have contaminated the local water table.

    In April 2007, roughly 6,227 barrels (990.0 m3) of crude oil spilled into a field downstream of an Enbridge pumping station near Glenavon, Saskatchewan. Long-term site remediation is being attempted to bring the site to “as close as possible to its original condition”.

    In 2009, Enbridge Energy Partners, a US affiliate of Enbridge Inc., agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit brought against the company by the state of Wisconsin for 545 environmental violations. In a news release from Wisconsin’s Department of Justice, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said “…the incidents of violation were numerous and widespread, and resulted in impacts to the streams and wetlands throughout the various watersheds.” The violations were incurred while building portions of the company’s Southern Access pipeline, a ~$2.1 billion project to transport crude from the oil sands region in Alberta to Chicago.

    In January 2009 an Enbridge pipeline leaked about 4,000 barrels (640 m3) of oil southeast of Fort McMurray at the company’s Cheecham Terminal tank farm. It was reported in the Edmonton Journal that most of the spilled oil was contained within berms, but that about 1% of the oil, about 40 barrels (6.4 m3), sprayed into the air and coated nearby snow and trees.

    April 2010 an Enbridge pipeline ruptured spilling more than 1500 litres of oil in Virden, Manitoba, which leaked into the Boghill Creek which eventually connects to the Assiniboine River.

    July 2010, a leaking pipeline spilled an estimated 843,444 US gallons (3,192.78 m3) of crude oil into Talmadge Creek leading to the Kalamazoo River in southwest Michigan on Monday, July 26.

    On September 9, 2010, a rupture on Enbridge’s Line 6A pipeline near Romeoville, Illinois released an estimate 6,100 barrels (970 m3) of oil into the surrounding area.

  15. if aboriginal groups manage to stop this project, does that mean the government will no longer be able to afford all those tax dollars that support the native reserves across the country??? Do they not realize that it takes a great deal of money to support all the various social needs such as welfare, health care, seniors care and many many more. Just where do these objectors think the funds will come from if the country cannot sell its resources? They should remember that the eastern seaboard has daily tanker traffic which extends all the way up the St. Lawrence, would they shut those down as well. This project would bring great financial benefit to a great many people across the entire nation, something that should be given careful consideration. Burnsy from BC

  16. First of all, if all of the people that don’t want the pipeline are backed by foreign money, where’s my cheque? Second, who is backing the oil companies?

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