Stephen Hume’s Must-Read Dissection of the “Ethical Oil” and Foreign Intervention Argument


Read this outstanding piece by Stephen Hume in the Vancouver Sun, dissecting the argument from the Harper Government and oil lobby, which alleges “foreign billionaires” are unduly influencing the opposition to Enrbidge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline and influencing the National Energy Board’s review of the project. (Jan 9, 2012), founded by conservative gadfly Ezra Levant, adopts this argument, declaiming against “foreign puppets” like West Coast Environmental Law, Alberta’s Pembina Institute and others challenging expansion of oilsands development, transportation infrastructure and diversified global markets for synthetic crude. Even Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on the bandwagon, claiming that foreign money seeks to subvert Canada’s regulatory process.

American foundations have donated about $300 million to such organizations over the last decade or so, therefore these groups must be part of a sinister conspiracy by Americans seeking to influence Canada’s policy agenda.

But wait a minute, if this crude nationalism applies to a few environmental groups, shouldn’t it also apply to other organizations that receive funding from “foreign billionaires?” Enbridge, for example, says it has organized about $100 million in backing from oil industry interests, some of them foreign-owned corporations. Are they trying to hi-jack the regulatory process?…

…The Fraser Institute reports nine per cent of its funding from non-Canadian sources — about the same amount of non-Canadian funding reported by the Pembina Institute — although exactly who the foreign donors to the Fraser Institute might be isn’t listed in annual reports. However, according to a report by Greenpeace using U.S. sources, some comes from American foundations. Another puppet?

Shell Canada, Imperial Oil, British Petroleum Canada, Ultramar Fuels, Enbridge, Sinopec International and so on are all owned and controlled offshore. Are they puppets of foreign billionaires?

If foreign control is a genuine concern for, should it turn its attention to Canada’s oil industry? More than 35 per cent of all the assets and more than 40 per cent of the profits from oil and gas extraction and related activities in Canada are under foreign control.

Read more: