New U.S. funding for the war on Canadian oil – by Vivian Krause (National Post – December 3, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Tides USA letters reveal $3.2-million in payments over last few months to activists groups and environmental organizations in Canada, U.S. and Europe. The objective: Create opposition to Canadian oil developments.

For more than a decade, there has been a complex international effort to stymie the oil industry in Canada. It’s called the Tar Sands Campaign and the main sources of funding for this campaign are the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the Sea Change Foundation, the Tides Foundation and other charitable foundations, most of which are based in California.

By my calculations, these foundations have provided at least $75-million for campaigns and land use planning initiatives that thwart the development and export of Canadian oil. Until now, little information has been available about the specific activities that have been funded. Not anymore.

Earlier this month, an unprecedented amount of detail came to light in a series of covering letters for 70 payments sent by the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation (“Tides USA”) to 45 organizations in the U.S., Canada and Europe. These payments total $3.2-million. I came across these covering letters using Google. All of the letters that I’ve seen are signed by Gary D. Schwarz, the interim CEO of Tides USA. Most of these letters were sent between June and October of 2013.

Mr. Schwarz’s covering letters stipulate a list of conditions including, for example, that the recipient organization agrees “not to use any portion of the granted funds to carry on propaganda nor to attempt to influence specific legislation either by direct or grassroots lobbying.” And yet these letters suggest to me that this is precisely what Tides is funding.

The numbering and timing of these payments indicates that they have been made systematically. For example, between August 2 and September 29, Tides made 27 consecutively numbered payments for a total of $1.9-million. In all cases, the donor is listed as “an existing fund.” Generally, the existing fund is not identified.

The recipients are clearly identified. From the Great Bear Rainforest Initiative and the First Nations at Fort Chipewayan to the groups pushing for the EU Fuel Quality Directive in Europe, virtually every organization that campaigns against the Alberta oil industry is funded by Tides USA, these letters reveal.

Among the initiatives that Tides USA funds are LeadNow, Idle No More, the Indigenous Tar Sands campaign, the Tanker Free Coast campaign, Pipe Up, the Tar Sands Reality Check, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, PowerShift and Save the Salish Sea. The gist of these initiatives is to foment opposition to pipeline and export infrastructure that is essential for getting Canadian energy to global markets.

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