Tides are against fair comment

Canada Day recently passed. And here’s a question for you. Do you want to change the identity of Canada?

Canada Day recently passed. And here’s a question for you. Do you want to change the identity of Canada?

Yes you do.

Tides Canada, an organization that is filled with “uncommon solutions for the common good” has decided (after consulting with 100 leaders across Canada, whoever they may be) that it’s time to change the Canadian identity, whether you want it or not.

From the Tides Policy booklet 2011: “As a country that built its wealth and power on the back of its substantial natural resources, Canadians have long seen themselves as hewers of wood and drawers of water. But our leadership in sectors such as telecommunications and transportation point the way to a different kind of national identity — one based less on extraction and more on the potential of adding value and delivering a range of energy services innovations to domestic and export markets. While we will still be exporting raw materials for decades to come, we could also be offering the world an increasingly sophisticated and diversified portfolio of energy innovations.”

That’s great, except the last time I looked, any time you want to make a high-tech telecommunications or transportation device, you need three things: fossil fuels, a mine for the minerals to make the thing from or a field to grow stuff in, and a manufacturing facility (also made from and driven by minerals and fossil fuels). In other words, extraction. Hewing. Natural resources.

Tides is apparently engaged in funding all kinds of eco-groups, most of which are allied in a vigorous battle against the oilsands. And it appears their supporters are well-entrenched at CBC.

Earlier this year, I wrote of my dismay and disgust that CBC aired The Tipping Point: Age of the Oil Sands and also that it was heavily promoted and aired twice (a two-hour documentary) in the space of 17 days. Despite vigorous complaints to the CBC ombudsman, I have yet to hear his review of the ample documentation of missing or distorted factual information I submitted, though he recently assured me he was willing to do a review. He just hadn’t agreed to, yet.

That didn’t make any sense to me, until I started doing a bit more research.

Dr. David Suzuki, who hosted the show, has apparently been funded by Tides — and his Suzuki Foundation purportedly received upwards of $10 million from Tides.

The Kelly/Schindler research at the center of The Tipping Point was funded by Tides too. It was published in the prestigious PNAS — Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — but under a special category called “contributed,” where a recognized member of the academy could kind of slip in an article with an up-front payment and a wave on from a couple of colleagues — no need to go through the more traditional in-depth peer review.

Ironically, his last publication (which got such press) was the last month the PNAS allowed such contributed articles.

Likewise, though PNAS submitters are not supposed to have stated any conflicts of interests regarding financial support, it is not clear to me how Tides was described as the research funder — anti-oil sands, or progressive/environmental?

The PNAS-contributed articles (if I recall) came with a “package” deal that allowed for pre-press publicity. Of course every eco-group in Canada picked up and re-hyped the Schindler works, and it is probably no surprise that some 36 anti-Alberta oilsands eco-groups are funded by . . . Tides.

“Expert” Andrew Nikiforuk, whose book Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent was co-published by Greystone Books and the David Suzuki Foundation — both of which are funded by Tides.

Further review of the CBC website reveals CBC is now planning on reselling The Tipping Point on the Learning website to teachers!

Not only that, the CBC Edmonton website has a special related linked written feature called Black Gold or Black Eye, wherein a fair amount of disinformation about the oilsands is tossed around and cited from groups like Pembina Institute, EcoJustice, Environmental Defence — all funded by Tides.

Just remember, these are the eco-guys who like to say that no one can trust industry or government reports because they are all in bed together. Wow, over at the Tides looks like it’s a grand eco-bed-in!

Many millions of Canadians were influenced against the oilsands by CBC’s The Tipping Point’s claims; the tide of influence running through it was never made clear to the public.

Plus, you paid for most of The Tipping Point with taxpayer money from CBC itself, Telefilm, the Alberta Motion Picture Development Corp., the Shaw Fund or others, all of which are funds created by skimming a small tax off your taxes or your cable bill.

Tides got its message out loud and clear, and may succeed in doing so for generations, using your tax dollars.

Influence peddling? Collusion? Misappropriation of taxpayer funds? Meddling, anyone?

Watch out for that “common good” — uncommonly hiding there — right in plain sight.

Michelle Stirling Anosh is a Ponoka-based freelance writer.

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