Convenient Conspiracy: How Vivian Krause Became the Poster Child for Canada’s Anti-Environment Crusade

Today Vivian Krause published an opinion piece in The Province claiming “a vote for Vision is a vote for U.S. oil interests.” So, you might be wondering: just who is Vivian Krause? We’re so glad you asked…

An essential component of all public relations campaigns is having the right messenger— a credible, impassioned champion of your cause.

While many PR pushes fail to get off the ground, those that really catch on — the ones that gain political attention and result in debates and senate inquiries — almost always have precisely the right poster child.

And in the federal government and oil industry’s plight to discredit environmental groups, the perfect poster child just so happens to be Vivian Krause.

Krause describes herself as an “independent” researcher and a single mom asking “fair questions” about American funding of Canadian environmental groups. She blogged for many years in relative obscurity before becoming the federal Conservatives’ favourite attack dog.

Krause’s moment in the sun came in January 2012 when Joe Oliver, Canada’s then Natural Resources Minister, released his infamous letter decrying “foreign-funded radical” environmentalists for “hijacking” the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline review process.

Krause had primed the pump for the Conservatives to swoop in and achieve their goal — to discredit environmental groups by building a public narrative about them acting nefariously, thereby justifying spending millions of dollars on audits of charities’ political activities.

Never mind that philanthropic dollars cross international borders all the time. Never mind that the Northern Gateway proposal is sponsored by China’s state-owned oil company Sinopec, along with many other foreign oil companies. Never mind that there’s probably no more legitimate participation in a democracy than citizens signing up to speak at public hearings.

No, once you have a vendetta, inconvenient facts don’t matter. And Krause’s vendetta against environmental groups has been in the works for a long time — ever since she worked in public relations for the farmed salmon industry.

The Salmon Farming Industry and the Birth of a Vendetta

It was due to her interest in promoting salmon farming that Krause started rifling through the tax returns of large American foundations supporting wild salmon advocacy in Canada.

It didn’t take long for Vivian Krause to cook up a conspiracy theory involving American foundations working to undermine Canadian interests — and then to expand that theory to any number of conservation issues in Canada, with a special focus on conservation campaigns that were inconvenient for the oil industry.

To Krause, it seemed suspicious that foundations from across the border were giving money to Canadian groups working on Canadian conservation and energy issues. It must be, Krause surmised, that these big foundations are spending their dollars to manipulate Canadian energy and environment politics to further American interests. And, she went further to suggest, these Canadian groups are acting as pawns of these suspicious foundations.

Speaking of suspicious, by early 2013, Krause had admitted that more than 90 per cent of her income for 2012 had come from oil, gas and mining interests. Groups paying Krause speaker’s fees included the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Association for Mineral Exploration and the Vancouver Board of Trade.

Vivian Krause's Convenient Aversion to Climate Change Facts

Fast forward to this week when Krause couldn’t resist weighing into the Vancouver election campaign, claiming that: “For Canada, there is no single economic issue that is more important than getting Alberta oil to global markets.”

While oil is no doubt an important part of the Canadian economy, Krause’s statement overlooks two inconvenient facts:

1) According to Statistics Canada, the oilsands account for only two per cent of the national GDP.

2) A study by Simon Fraser University and The Goodman Group Ltd released this week finds Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain jobs promises are overblown and recommends the proposed expansion be rejected as it is neither in the economic nor public interest of B.C. and Metro Vancouver.

The argument that continued oilsands expansion is a positive for the Canadian economy — and more to the point, the Metro Vancouver economy — is far from a slam dunk.

While Krause enjoys spinning another of her clandestine tales in linking Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to U.S. foundations, it’s increasingly clear that it’s all a convenient cover story for her to push her own view that the fossil fuel industry should be allowed to expand.

“Voting for Gregor Robertson means voting to support a U.S.-funded, anti-pipeline campaign that continues the U.S. monopoly on Canadian oil, keeping Canada over a barrel,” Krause writes. “When you go to the poll, don’t vote for Gregor Robertson. Vote for Canada.”

Perhaps Krause missed the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which states that governments need to peak emissions, rapidly phase out fossil fuels and transition to 100 per cent renewable energy pronto? Rapidly expanding the oilsands and building new pipelines to serve that expansion doesn’t actually fit into any plans to have an inhabitable earth — not to mention the terrifying consequences an oil spill could reap on Vancouver.

If Krause’s modus operandi is climate change denial, it would be nice if she just stated that right up front, instead of conveniently ignoring it.

(If you want to know where we’re coming from at DeSmog Canada, mosey on over to our About Us page, where you can find out. Hint: we agree with 97 per cent of scientists about climate change, we’re proud to accept donations from anyone who supports our mission and we’re not going to tell you how to vote because that’s not our thing.)

In a recent op-ed in the Calgary Herald, Barry Cooper, a University of Calgary professor and known climate skeptic called on Alberta Premier Jim Prentice to use Krause as an attack dog against environmental groups.

“[Prentice] knows from his work with Enbridge and B.C. First Nations that the real source of opposition to Northern Gateway are the enviros and the deep-pocketed American foundations that fund them,” Cooper wrote. “So, Jim, hire Vivian Krause, who has done a lot of work on this problem, and use the government megaphone to publicize her analyses of the pernicious sources of enviro funding.”

Which raises the question: did someone hire Krause to weigh in — clumsy as it may be — on the Vancouver election?

New title

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