That Time a Foreign-Owned Newspaper Called Out Environmentalists for Taking Foreign Money to Fight a Foreign-Funded Pipeline
On a certain level, Vivian Krause and her cadre are right when they accuse Canadian...
Vivian Krause is a controversial researcher and writer critical of Canada’s environmental charities. Krause claims American foundations are exercising foreign influence over Canada’s non-profit sector through their funding — even though most of her claims have been debunked. Krause uses her research to attack the credibility of environmental groups advocating for forest conservation, First Nations rights, climate action and democratic participation in natural resource development, especially the Alberta oilsands and proposed pipelines.
Many of the environmental organizations attacked by Krause have been audited by the Canada Revenue Agency, something Krause takes credit for on her resume. Although she claims to be an independent researcher and writer, Krause has received significant funding in the form of speaking fees and honorariums from the oil, gas and mining industries with more than 90 per cent of her income in 2012, 2013 and 2014 coming from these sources.
Vivian Krause was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and spent a part of her childhood living in Kitimat, B.C., the terminus point of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. As a teen Krause lived in Kamloops where she graduated from Westsyde Secondary.
Vivian Krause has a B.Sc. (McGill) and M.Sc. in Nutrition (l’Université de Montréal) and worked on children’s nutrition programs for UNICEF in Guatemala (1990-1995) and Indonesia (1996-2000). Krause worked for CeSSIAM (The Center for Studies of Sensory Impairment, Aging and Metabolism) founded in Guatemala to investigate the association between vitamin A deficiency and blindness.
In 2002 Krause was hired to work for Nutreco Aquaculture, the world’s largest producer of farmed salmon, as a corporate development manager for North America. Much of her work involved responding to environmental concerns related to the farmed fish industry and to combat the “farmed and dangerous” campaign run by the David Suzuki Foundation. She later wrote on her blog, “a lot of my job was PR.”
Krause worked for Nutreco until 2003 when her employment was terminated. There is little information available about her activity aside from her volunteering for the Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia (AFABC) in 2005. Krause does note on her LinkedIn bio that she worked around this time as a “freelance” marketing and communications professional.
Krause returned to work for the farmed salmon industry in 2007 as a consultant for Millerd Holdings Ltd. and Salmon of the Americas.
Krause began her blog, Fair Questions, in 2009, which she used to defend the farmed salmon industry and Canada’s oil and gas and mining industries. She currently describes herself as a “researcher and writer” and is regularly paid speaking fees and honorariums from the oil and gas and mining industries.
Vivian Krause‘s blog, Fair Questions, was the main platform for her writing and research until she began publishing on a number of other platforms, most notably the Financial Post.
Krause’s blog initially focused on the salmon farming industry and the work of environmental organizations to “de-market” farmed salmon. Krause wrote in an article for the Westcoaster that she “unexpectedly” came across information about a $190 million grant for the “Wild Salmon Ecosystem” Initiative from the Moore Foundation.
“To my surprise, when I looked at the grants database of the Moore Foundation, I discovered that it has provided substantial funding to environmental organizations to shift market demand away from farmed salmon.”
Krause began examining tax returns for several large American foundations, including the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Oak Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
On Fair Questions Krause began crafting a conspiracy narrative around the the U.S. funding of Canadian groups critical of the farmed salmon industry. This narrative then expanded to include the U.S. funding of Canadian groups fighting the expansion of the Alberta oilsands and the construction of pipelines to the B.C. coast.
Krause argues conservation of Canadian land and waters, and efforts to establish protected areas like the Great Bear Rainforest, are a means of impeding Canadian oil exports. She argues this protects U.S. energy security while putting Canadian sovereignty and resource development at risk.
Krause has used her research to attack the motives and credibility of many of Canada’s most prominent environmental organizations. Most recently her research has been used to legitimize the audit and investigation of the charitable status of a number of Canadian environmental charities.
Krause takes credit for initiating these audits and investigations on her resume although she consistently claims she is merely asking “fair questions.”
A recent investigation into the activities of Senator Mike Duffy revealed he took a keen interest in Krause’s research. As the National Observer discovered in his poorly redacted diary, the Senator worked to advance Krause’s public persona, introducing her to key figures in the Canadian political and energy landscape.
Vivian Krause was employed by Nutreco Aquaculture, the world’s largest producer of farmed salmon, between 2002 and 2003. Krause also took on two consultation positions with the farmed salmon industry in 2007 with Millerd Holdings Ltd. and Salmon of the Americas.
Krause was a sponsored keynote speaker at the Nova Scotia Annual Aquaculture Conference in January of 2008 although she notes she was not paid for the event beyond having her airfare and hotel costs covered.
Since Krause’s research has been identified as useful to the oil and gas and mining industries, Krause has taken paid speaking gigs at several industry gatherings.
Krause has been paid to speak by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the right-wing think tank Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Integrated Environment Plant Management Association of Western Canada, the Association for Mineral Exploration in B.C., the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association and the Vancouver Board of Trade. This last event was funded by the mining group Hunter Dickenson Inc. and Taseko Mines.
Vivian Krause has disclosed a number of sources of industry funding for her work on her website Fair Questions and through her Twitter account.
Perhaps most notably, Krause acknowledged that in 2012 more than 90 per cent of her income came from the oil and gas and mining industries.
In an April 2014 tweet, Krause also confirmed more than 90 per cent of her income came from these same sources in 2013 and 2014.
Krause’s disclosed funding, chronologically, goes as follows:
2007: Krause was paid $7,500 by Salmon of the Americas, a farm salmon industry association.
2011, September: Krause was paid $5,000 plus travel expenses to speak at a Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) luncheon.
2011, July: Krause received $2,500 to speak for the right-wing, free market think-tank Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Krause discussed “the connection between major left-wing American foundations and the Canadian left’s fight against developing that country’s oil sands.”
2012, January: Krause received a $1,000 honorarium for speaking at the 16th annual conference of the Integrated Environment Plant Management Association of Western Canada.
2012, March: Krause was paid $10,000 to address the Association for Mineral Exploration in B.C.
2012, April: Krause received $10,000 to present to the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association.
2012, June: Krause was paid $10,000 to address the Vancouver Board of Trade. A portion of that payment was covered by mining group Hunter Dickenson Inc. and its company Taseko Mines. The remainder was anonymously donated.
Despite receiving funds from both CAPP and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, in a 2012 interview with Vancouver Courier reporter Allen Garr Krause claimed “my work isn’t funded…I have not been funded by any industry, any company, any political party, any entity of any kind. I got a loan from my father (a retired minister) and was able to afford to work unpaid because of child support from my daughter’s father. Ultimately, I sold my home and have been living on my savings.”
Vivian Krause alleges large American foundations are meddling in Canadian energy markets by funding Canadian non-profit groups. Through her research Krause attempts to show that American support for environmental non-profits and charities is undermining the farmed salmon industry as well as the oil and gas industry.
Krause claims large environmental projects, like conservation of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, are manufactured to thwart the export of Canadian oil by preventing the construction of pipelines, such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
Krause implicates many groups in her research including the David Suzuki Foundation, the Canadian Boreal Initiative, Tides Canada, the Natural Resources Defence Council, Ducks Unlimited and ForestEthics.
The funders Krause mentions in her research are The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucille Packard Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, The Rockefeller Brothers Foundaion, the Endswell Foundation and the Oak Foundation.
Krause accuses Canadian environmental charities and non-profits of carrying out an anti-oilsands agenda, although she admits she has never linked any environmental campaigns to specific U.S. companies or individuals who might financially benefit from such work.
In an October 2014 interview with CTV personality Jill Krop, Krause cast doubt on the science of climate change. Krause questioned the accuracy of climate modeling.
During her 2012 address to the Vancouver Board of Trade Krause reportedly cast doubt on climate change, according to the Vancouver Observer.
In 2010 when testifying before the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources, Krause said she would like to “acknowledge the much-appreciated contributions of my colleague, Rob Scagel.” Krause also acknowledges Scagel contributed data to her research on U.S. foundations and the “reform” of industry in Canada.
Scagel is a well-known climate change denier formerly affiliated with the defunct astroturf organization Natural Resources Stewardship Project. He is a signatory of a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed by 61 scientists denying climate change. That letter was coordinated by Friends of Science, a climate denial group that the Globe and Mail outed as being funded in part by the oil and gas industry.
Peter O’Neil points out that Krause alleges a vast U.S. economic conspiracy, in which American capitalists use charitable donations to Canadian environmental organizations as a means of preventing Canada from exporting its oil to China, and keeping Canadian oil only for the U.S.
However, Krause also acknowledges that the same organizations fighting against pipeline development also oppose the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would expand the delivery of Alberta bitumen to the U.S. She also admits that the objectives of both charitable foundations and environmental groups are based on real environmental principles, and says that she is not aware of any clear “plan” to block Canadian resources — she’s merely asking questions.
Peter Ladner, who was defeated by Gregor Robertson in the race for Vancouver Mayor in 2008, has ridiculed Krause’s claims that Robertson was funded by Joel Solomon and others to enact environmental protections in Canada to stop Canadian resource exports to Asia. He argues that the Mayor of Vancouver has no jurisdiction over the question of resource development and trade with Asia.
Ladner also shows that Tides Canada receives 30 per cent of its funding from foreign sources, and received its largest-ever grant ($27 million) from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to work on a planning process for the Great Bear Rainforest. This process was conducted in partnership with the federal government, which contributed a matching $30 million to the project.
Ladner goes on to outline the actual situation surrounding resource development in Canada: $20 billion in new foreign investment in the oilsands, major corporate and government promotion of a highly risky pipeline that goes against the $400 million plan for the central coast that focused on a diverse and sustainable economy. In addition the oilsands are 70 per cent foreign owned. Ladner also highlights budget cuts and firings for environmental monitoring organizations and argues that these are the real issues, not the source of the money.
As Gage outlines in a blog post for West Coast Environmental Law, Krause’s fair questions are only asked of environmental groups, and ignore those who support pipeline and oilsands development. Her work serves to distract attention away from the far more pressing problems of corporate influence on government. In particular, Krause has not asked any questions about Ethical Oil, which does not publicly disclose its funding sources or board of directors.
Gage also argues that Krause misrepresents the relationship between funders/foundations and non-profit groups. Funders do not necessarily donate with strings attached or require that the money be used for a specific purpose.
Garossino, a prominent Vancouver business woman, argues that Krause selectively and confusingly lists data and numbers from disparate years and sources, creating a sense of conspiracy that falls apart under scrutiny. She lists the budgets of groups with tenuous connections to Canada, and then claims ominously that “they can’t be outspent”—all this despite the fact that much of the money Krause mentions does not actually go to Canadian groups of any kind.
Garissino cites tax expert and charity lawyer Mark Blumberg to counter Krause’s numbers on the amount of charitable donations received by Canadian environmental groups.
Importantly, Krause leaves out the fact that of the $425 million that U.S. foundations donated to Canada in the last 15 years, a major chunk went to working on the Great Bear Rainforest, a project that featured proud partnership with the Harper government. This fact is now ignored by Krause and removed from the Conservative’s website.
A 2021 inquiry funded by the Government of Alberta delved into international funding for environmental organizations and how their resources were focused on criticizing Alberta’s oil and gas industry — a major tenet of Krause’s research and claims. In the end, the $3.5-million inquiry by commissioner Steve Allan found only about four per cent of international funding for environmental initiatives was put toward such campaigns. Allan was unable to determine whether campaigns caused project delays, cancellations or impacts on jobs, and did not address whether or not the information in those campaigns was true or false.
“When you sit down and actually look at the numbers and look at what Steve Allan has written and what he has said, then it’s essentially an exoneration of environmental groups for doing what is entirely their democratic right to do, which was to oppose what they consider to be unsustainable or unbridled oil and gas development,” Martin Olszynski, an environmental law professor at the University of Calgary who made submissions to the inquiry, said in response to the findings. “The government is, of course, spinning very hard to try to make this out into something else.”
Read more about Vivian Krause at Sourcewatch.com
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