Canada getting millions in oilsands fight

Rich American foundations are not only footing the bill for opposition to Canada’s oilsands.

OTTAWA — Rich American foundations are not only footing the bill for opposition to Canada’s oilsands.

Tax returns show the Canadian government has also been the beneficiary of millions of dollars in largesse from some of the wealthiest private organizations in the United States.

And some of that money came from the same U.S. groups that helped fund Canadian environmentalists.

The grants to the federal government come to light as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and the pro-oilsands website EthicalOil.org take Canadian environmental groups to task for accepting money from big American foundations to finance their campaigns against the oilsands.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver accused “environmental and other radical groups” of trying to use money from “foreign special-interest groups” to hijack hearings on a pipeline that would bring Alberta oilsands bitumen to a port on the British Columbia coast.

But the Canadian government seems to have no qualms accepting grant money from private U.S. foundations — including some of the same organizations that gave to Canadian environmental groups.

For example, U.S. tax records show the California-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation gave $750,000 to the David Suzuki Foundation and a whopping $40 million to the International Development Research Centre, a federal Crown corporation.

Tax records show the Hewlett foundation gave the International Development Research Centre $40 million in 2007 for “general support of the Think Tanks Program,” and another $275,000 in 2008 for “general support of the African R&E Bandwidth Consortium.”

The Hewlett Foundation has also given $1.3 million to the Pembina Foundation for Environmental Research and Education, $400,000 to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and $275,000 to Ecojustice Canada.

A spokeswoman pointed out that the International Development Research Centre is a funding organization that supports researchers in the developing world.

“Our goal is to bring choice and change to the people who need it most,” Isabelle Bourgeault-Tasse wrote in an email.

“This means that funding received from donors such as William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Department For International Development (DFID), among others, are not intended for IDRC, but rather for projects that are administered and run by IDRC.

“With the exception of administrative costs (i.e.: grant administration, human resources, etc.), and direct project costs (i.e. salaries) attributable to the specific project or program, the funding received by donors is intended for researchers and innovators in the developing world.”

The Illinois-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation gave $695,000 to the World Wildlife Fund Canada and $300,000 to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

The purpose of the grant to Foreign Affairs was to support “regional meetings in Africa on the responsibility to protect,” the foundation said in its 2003 tax filing.

The department did not immediately respond to questions.

An analysis by The Canadian Press of thousands of pages of U.S. tax filings found American groups have showered millions of dollars on federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations in Canada.

Details of the grants are contained in annual filings to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service from tax-exempt and non-profit organizations, called Form 990s.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office was asked if there is a difference between environmental groups and the federal government when it comes to accepting money from private U.S. foundations.

“The government encourages charitable donations and philanthropy,” wrote Andrew MacDougall, the PMO’s associate director of communications, in an email response.

“But the government believes that regulatory decisions dealing with the responsible development of Canada’s natural resources should be up to Canadians. After all, development of these resources generates tax revenue that funds critical services that Canadians rely on, like health care and education.

“That’s why decisions regarding these projects should be made by Canadians and should be based on Canada’s interests.”

Just Posted

Spring book sale this weekend in Red Deer

Red Deerians can get lost in a world of inexpensive books this… Continue reading

Central Alberta wildlife rehab facility not prepared to take orphaned bear cubs, yet

It’s been about eight years since the Medicine River Wildlife Centre was… Continue reading

Regional sewage line moving ahead despite concerns

Cost sharing among concerns of municipalities involved in Sylvan Lake-to-Red Deer sewage line

Red Deer family who lost everything in house fire begin rebuilding

Couple had moved into north-end home only two days before basement fire

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by Maxime Bernier

MONTREAL — Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by former Tory… Continue reading

WATCH: Fine wine and food at Red Deer College

The Red Deer College Alumni Association hosted its 14th annual Fine Wine… Continue reading

Boston’s Tuukka Rask, Riley Nash step up in Game 4 win over Leafs

Bruins 3 Maple Leafs 1 TORONTO — The Boston Bruins didn’t need… Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling corks B.C. vintners’ hopes for free trade of Canadian wines

VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding interprovincial trade laws… Continue reading

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Montreal couple hoping city lets them keep beloved pet pig named Babe

MONTREAL — Babe the pig spends his days sleeping, going for walks… Continue reading

WATCH: This is a story about a stoned raccoon at a fire station

An unusual pair showed up in the pre-dawn hours at Fire Station… Continue reading

Plastic makers’ credit ratings may be hit by pollution rules

Plastic packaging makers may be less credit-worthy in the future as governments… Continue reading

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

‘Dining of the future’: vegan restaurant boom fuelled by meat eaters

Foodies say Canada is in the midst of a renaissance in plant-based… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month