foreign funded radicals

How Stephen Harper Used God and Neoliberalism to Construct the Radical Environmentalist Frame

Stephen Harper’s efforts to frame environmentalists as radicals who deserve to be investigated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service took three years to come to fruition.

It’s often claimed that Harper’s vendetta against environmental groups springs from his unconditional support for the oil industry. While that is more or less evident, it’s also necessary to consider the dominant influences — from his evangelical Christianity and his neoliberal ideology — on his tactics.

It was in early January 2012 that the Harper government first attacked opponents of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver released an open letter accusing “radical” environmentalists and “jet-setting celebrities” of blocking efforts to open access to Asian markets for Canadian oil.

These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda,” Oliver, a former investment banker who raised money for oil companies, wrote. “They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects.”

Shooting the Messenger: Tracing Canada’s Anti-Enviro Movement

Vivian Krause

When former environment minister Jim Prentice held his introductory lunch with U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson in November 2009, Prentice described to Jacobson how he had been shocked during a visit to Norway to find heated opposition to the Alberta oilsands during a public debate over state-owned StatOil ASA’s investment there.

This information was contained in a cable from Jacobson, which was obtained by WikiLeaks and posted by a Norwegian paper.

Prentice was clearly feeling the heat from a global campaign by environmental organizations to frame oilsands oil as “dirty” because of its energy-intensive extraction, which make for Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The public sentiment in Norway shocked him and has heightened his awareness of the negative consequences to Canada’s historically ‘green’ standing on the world stage,” the cable reported.

Prime Minister and Allies Working to 'Neutralize' Environmental Opposition, Says Harperism Author Donald Gutstein

prime minister stephen harper, Harperism

In his recent book Harperism: How Stephen Harper and His Think Tank Colleagues have Transformed Canada, author and adjunct SFU professor Donald Gutstein outlines a battle being waged in Canada for the “climate of ideas.”

The Prime Minister is often thought of as a lone wolf, “the rogue conservative who marches to his own drummer.” But it’s not so, argues Gutstein. Harper is merely “one side of an ideological coin.”

The flipside is the network of key influencers — politicians, industry titans, think tanks, journalists — who work to advance not just Harper’s agenda, but the agenda of neoliberalism that serves powerful private interests, Gutstein says.

Digging Deeper into Vivian Krause’s Disingenuous Anti-Environment Witch Hunt

vivian krause environmental charities

Canadians are inundated with ads from Enbridge, Cenovus, Kinder Morgan, Shell and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

But we’re also targeted by a more insidious type of PR brought into the spotlight by the New York Times scoop on a speech Richard Berman gave to the Western Energy Alliance.

In that speech, Berman told the group’s members — mostly oil and gas companies — they had to be prepared to “win ugly” in an “endless war” against environmentalists. 

We are now finding out we are also subjected to secretly funded propaganda from groups like the “Environmental Policy Alliance” (whose self-conciously chosen initials are EPA, the same as the U.S. government’s Environment Protection Agency), or the more obviously biased “Big Green Radicals.”

Vivian Krause and Richard Berman’s Oil Industry Playbook

vivian krause, richard berman

He had no idea he was being taped.

So when influential Washington, DC, political consultant Richard Berman talked about strategy and tactics to the oil and gas industry’s Western Energy Alliance in Colorado Springs this past June, he didn’t mince words.  

This is an endless war,” Berman said.

The secret tape was published in the New York Times a few weeks ago, released by a displeased oil industry executive, on condition of anonymity.

As he urged industry reps to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, Berman also made one emphatic point:

People always ask me one question all the time, ‘How do I know that I won't be found out as a supporter of what you're doing?’ We run all of this stuff through non-profit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don't know who supports us. We've been doing this for 20-something years in this regard.”

The Western Energy Alliance, at whose June meeting Berman laid out his cold-blooded strategy, describes membership as “an investment in the future of the independent oil and gas community in the West.” Its members throughout the U.S. and Canada “share and support our commitment to improve business conditions, expand opportunities and move the industry forward.” 

Dear CRA, Who Watches The Birdwatcher Watcher?

The below video originally appeared on the Toronto Star.

Birdwatchers – the paparazzi of the natural world – are subverting our democracy according to the Canada Revenue Agency – the overbearing mother of the financial world.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, a registered charity, recently wrote a letter to federal cabinet members complaining about pesticides linked to dying bees. Shortly after, they got a letter from CRA warning them to “refrain from undertaking any partisan activities.” Activities like their dogmatic anti-bee-death manifesto.

It’s part of a recent crackdown on charities for political activities. CRA rules state that to get tax-free status a charity must be non-partisan. But what charity isn’t partisan? They all support something. We don’t say “Okay, we’ve heard from the ice-bucket challenge guys, but let’s give the pro-ALS folks a chance to weigh in on this… and their buckets of lava.”

This German Energy Expert Says Canada is Perfect for a Clean Energy Transition

Dr. David Jacobs speaks at Generate Conference 2014

We’re all taught in life that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The sentiment has been applied to Germany’s renewable energy transition, or Energiewende, with critics questioning emission reduction reporting or arguing costs of new systems are too high. But even if the Energiewende isn’t quite as shiny as it first appears, there are still a few important lessons from Germany's energy transition that Canada can take to heart.

German clean energy policy expert Dr. David Jacobs paid Canada a visit this week to dispel a few myths about the Energiewende. While addressing potential downsides, Jacobs talked about the lessons North American countries can take from Germany’s push toward completely sustainable energy. 
Jacobs, the founder and director of International Energy Transition Consulting, organized an event in Vancouver Thursday to discuss Germany’s energy policies, and invited MLAs, policymakers, developers and academics to ask questions. He also spoke at the annual Generate conference, hosted by Clean Energy BC. Jacobs visited at the invitation of Clean Energy Canada as part of their Low Carbon Leadership speaker series.

"The West Wants Out" of Ottawa's Energy Superpower Plan

chief ian campbell of the squamish first nation

This is a guest post by Will Horter, executive director of the Dogwood Initiative. It was originally published in the Toronto Star.

Earthquakes happen rarely in Canadian politics, but the fault lines are shifting again on the West Coast. As the next federal election draws closer, conditions below the surface should remind political observers of another seismic event a generation ago.

Back in the early 1990s, Stephen Harper and the insurgent Reform Party forced a tectonic shift, unleashing a powerful wave of western alienation that has realigned Canadian politics to this day. Their slogan was: “The West wants in.”

You could sum up the feeling in British Columbia lately as, “The West wants out.” Today you could get in your car in Kenora and drive clear across the Prairies to the coast without ever leaving a blue Conservative riding. But the road through the Rocky Mountains could become tricky indeed if Harper’s party doesn’t change course.

Charities Bullied Into Muting Their Messages: Researcher

gareth kirkby, canadian charities, audits

Canada’s charitable sector — the second largest charitable sector in the world, after the Netherlands — has come under threat from federal policies that hinder advocacy groups from doing their work, according to new research.

As DeSmog Canada and other outlets have reported, numerous charities — ranging from development organizations to women’s rights groups — have lost their funding from the federal government during the last several years.

Most recently, in June of 2012, the federal government announced $8 million would be devoted to investigating and auditing charities to ensure their activities comply with Canada Revenue Agency rules. (DeSmog Canada recently revealed through Access to Information legislation that, in fact, more than $13 million has been dedicated to these audits).

Several individuals and organizations have criticized the audits as politically-motivated.

So far, we haven’t heard much from the charities themselves under audit, because, with resources already stretched thin and sometimes multiple federal auditors scrutinizing their work, speaking out has been seen as too much of a risk.

But what charities haven’t been able to say for themselves is now outlined in a new analysis by former journalist and graduate student Gareth Kirkby. His research on the ‘chill effect’ that resulted from the ongoing audits was brought together in his thesis (attached below), recently submitted to faculty in the public communications department at Royal Roads University.

Why, When We Know So Much, Are We Doing So Little?: Jim Hoggan on the Polluted Environment and the Polluted Public Square

jim hoggan, the polluted public square
Speak the truth, but not to punish.”

These are the words the famous Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh told DeSmogBlog and DeSmog Canada founder, president and contributor James Hoggan one afternoon in a conversation about environmental advocacy and the collapse of productive public discourse.

Over the course of three years James (Jim) Hoggan has engaged the minds of communications specialists, philosophers, leading public intellectuals and spiritual leaders while writing a book designed to address the bewildering question: “why, when we know so much about the global environmental crisis, are we doing so little?”

Hoggan recently recounted some of the insights he has gained into this question when he spoke at the Walrus Talks “The Art of Conversation.”

He begins with the basic axiom shared by cognitive scientist Dan Kahan, “just as you can pollute the natural environment, you can pollute public conversations.” From that the logic follows – if we’re serious about resolving our environmental problems, we are going to have to attend equally to the state of our public discourse.

In Canada, says Hoggan, we face particular challenges when it comes to polluted pubic conversations, especially with the heightened tenor of rhetoric regarding environmentalism and energy issues surrounding the oilsands and proposed pipelines.

The ethical oil, foreign funded radicals campaign,” he says, “has made Canadians less able to weigh facts honestly, disagree constructively, and think things through collectively.”


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