Just one big great read….EB
FEB 28, 2012
Hon. Nicole Eaton rose pursuant to notice of February 2, 2012: That she will call the attention of the Senate to the interference of foreign foundations in Canada’s domestic affairs and their abuse of Canada’s existing Revenue Canada Charitable status. She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to open an inquiry that will reveal astounding information. It surprised me and I hope it will surprise you. It will make your blood boil and, hopefully, it will prompt us all to action. There is political manipulation. There is influence peddling. There are millions of dollars crossing borders masquerading as charitable foundations into bank accounts of sometimes phantom charities that do nothing more than act as a fiscal clearing house. They dole out money to other charities without disclosing what the money is for. This inquiry is about how billionaire foreign foundations have quietly moved into Canada and, under the guise of charitable deeds, are trying to define our domestic policies. [Translation] It is about organizations that are lining their own pockets by getting involved in whatever causes are the latest trend. [English] It is about has-been and wannabe movie stars trying to defibrillate their flatlined careers. It is about anything to undermine the credibility of the Canadian brand — our Canadian identity in Canada and around the world. However, do the charitable and non-governmental organizations that accept enormous amounts of money really represent the interests of Canada, or do they pander to the interests of their foreign masters? Is it really about the environment, or is it about something much bigger and much more profitable? It is about how they use the majority of their resources for political activities and lobbying and about entities that are set up as charitable organizations but, in fact, do not even have an office in Canada, just a post office box. Cleverly masked as grassroots movements, these interests are audaciously treading on our domestic affairs and on Canadian sovereignty, all under the radar. As Vivian Krause, a West Coast citizen activist and blogger, put it:
One thing is sure: when 36 organizations are all funded by a common, foreign source, their multi-million dollar campaign — with paid, full-time staff, expensive billboards and state-of-the-art web-sites — is anything but a grassroots operation. [Translation] This inquiry is about masters of manipulation who are hiding behind charitable organizations to manipulate our policies to their own advantage. [English] If we follow the money trail of financial contributions to Canadian charities and NGOs, we will certainly understand why foreign foundations are spending so much money in Canada. Unfortunately, the answers are often hidden behind layers of clever lawyers and accountants working for privately endowed foundations structured to avoid scrutiny. According to preliminary calculations conducted by Vivian Krause, U.S. foundations have poured at least $300 million into the environmental movement in Canada since 2000 — $300 million. The Tides Foundation of California injected at least $6 million into 36 Canadian organizations. The David Suzuki Foundation has been paid at least $10 million by American foundations over the past decade. The Hewlett Foundation based in California has channeled $13.6 million to Tides Canada between 2002 and 2007. The Geneva-based Oak Foundation, set up by British billionaire Alan Parker, has divided almost $2.6 million among six groups for campaigns against the tar sands since 2007. Those are only to name a few. Key Canadian organizations supported by international foundations with the intent of influencing public opinion and policy direction have acquired Canada Revenue Agency charitable status, and they issue tax receipts, even though much of their activity could be deemed as highly political. Many are operating as lobbyists without following any of our rules. Patrick Moore, formerly with Greenpeace Canada, points out that it is not a charitable act to interfere in the sovereignty of a country. For example, a major study released by the University of Calgary on December 15, 2011, concluded that if pipeline capacity existed to take full advantage of the oil sands, Canada’s economy would see a boost of $131 billion between 2016 and 2030. The number of high-paying jobs at risk is staggering. The Keystone project alone is projected to generate 140,000 Canadian jobs and $600 billion in economic activity over the next 25 years. [Translation]
There has been a great deal of talk about the oil sands in general as well as the Keystone project and the Northern Gateway pipeline. However, we must not forget that these organizations have their sights set on other sectors of Canada’s domestic affairs. [English] There are the boreal forests, the seal hunt, salmon farming, gas fracturing and the general management of our land and natural resources. A year ago, Vivian Krause documented how the U.S.-based Packard Foundation has poured millions into a campaign against B.C. salmon to the benefit of Alaska’s ranched salmon. The Packard Foundation, from Seattle, which refers to itself as “protecting the northwest” on its website, granted $68 million to support the Marine Stewardship Council and $17 million to reform the aquaculture industry by de-marketing farmed fish, especially B.C. salmon. De-marketing is reducing or shifting the demand. This tactic has been used against Canadian forest products and, more recently, Alberta oil, but the Canadian export that has been hardest hit is farmed salmon. What is the result? Since 2003, the ex-vessel value of Alaskan salmon has more than tripled to $500 million at the expense of B.C. salmon. The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations credited the Packard Foundation with “playing a big part in boosting our markets.” On its website, the association identifies itself as “the largest and most politically active trade association of commercial fishermen on the [U.S.] west coast.” [Translation] In its 2010 annual report, the Humane Society of the United States boasted that it is: . . . methodically closing down markets for sealskins and diminishing the commercial value of the pelts, making the whole enterprise for the sealers and the government of Canada a losing proposition. Honourable senators, that is a direct quote. [English] This is the same group that funded a photo opportunity for Paul McCartney and Heather Mills on the ice with baby seals to pressure our government into banning the harp seal hunt — spectacle advocacy at its finest. The seal hunt generates more than $15 million in revenue for Newfoundland and Labrador. It is estimated that between 5,000 and 6,000 people derive at least some
part of their income from sealing. Do not forget, honourable senators, seal meat is an important staple in the Inuit diet. The Brainerd Foundation, from Seattle, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to stop tankers from operating on the B.C. coast and to stop development in B.C. and Yukon. On their website, they wanted to grow public opposition to counter the Enbridge pipeline construction and the risk that increased tanker traffic would entail. The Pew Charitable Trusts, from Philadelphia, transferred millions to Canadian charities to “protect the boreal forest.” Yet, a mere $125,000 was granted to the fight against the pine beetle that has devastated billions of trees in British Columbia and Alberta and is a huge threat to the very boreal forests that Pew is purporting to protect. What is it they are really protecting? Prime Minister Harper has repeatedly questioned why these groups are so intent on turning Canada into one huge national park. Is it a coincidence that they are so fixated on the very sectors that strengthen the Canadian economy, or could it be as simple as protectionism of markets and trade interests? Could it be that while America and Europe falter, Canada is emerging as a strong economic and social power? (1720) Brian Lee Crowley, managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and author of The Canadian Century: Moving out of America’s Shadow, posits that the 21st century will belong to Canada. All the signs are there. Canada is rich in the quality of our citizens, the beauty of our landscapes and in our natural resources. We have the four Fs in abundance: food, fuel, fertilizer and forestry. We are a nation that values human rights, gender equality, protection of minorities and freedom of choice. Our leaders and decision-makers are sought after for their advice and expertise. Our economy is the strongest of the G7 countries. Forbes magazine ranked Canada the number one country in which to conduct business. Internationally we have also accomplished much toward making the world, including Canada, a better place. Our Canadian identity is strong. In Canada, a quiet patriotism has blossomed. We saw this during the 2010 Olympics when for the first time Canadians unabashedly put our national pride on display for the world to see.
Three recent columns confirmed Canada’s growing influence. In his January 9, 2012 column in the Ottawa Citizen, Matthew Fisher documented how Canada is playing a bigger role on the world stage. British writer, journalist and broadcaster James Delingpole, in his January 10, 2012 article, lauds Canada, stating: . . . of all the great Western nations Canada is probably the only one left standing up for the values that made the West great. Most recently, in his January 30 article in the National Post, Jack Granatstein, respected historian and senior research fellow of the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute, concluded that: Harper’s foreign policies have made Canada a world player. Yet, foreign interests have been somewhat successful in their objectives. Using relatively minor single-issue non-governmental groups, they have launched very expensive, professionally designed so-called public education programs. Take the oil sands. We allowed international interests to frame our oil sands industry with myths, misinformation and catchy slogans like “tar sands” and “dirty oil.” [Translation] We can learn from that experience and we can strike back. We need to make it clear that they cannot come here to our country and incite Canadians to turn against us, or even worse, pay agitators to come here and provoke demonstrations and protests against our own country. [English] This is not a partisan issue, nor is it a regional one. It is certainly not an environmental issue. This is a Canadian issue; a patriotic issue. This is about our sovereignty and economic well-being. We need to point out some inconvenient truths of our own: truths like the atrocious human rights records of OPEC nations where women are not allowed to vote or even drive, where gays are persecuted and sentenced to death, and where loathsome tyrants rule over oppressed, poverty-stricken populations.
Yet, the very same foundations that are sinking billions into anti-Canadian initiatives are surprisingly silent on their own country’s records. Former Canadian ambassador to Washington Derek Burney pointed out that the carbon footprint from the coal-fired U.S. energy industry is 64 times larger than that of the Alberta oil sands. Do we hear about that from Americans? No, we do not. Just last week, Andrew Weaver, Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis at the University of Victoria and a lead author of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concluded that the impact of burning all the economically viable proven reserve of the oil sands would be negligible and that burning up all the oil in areas currently being extracted would have even less impact. Not surprisingly, Weaver says that coal is significantly worse for the environment than oil sands. Mysteriously, the American foundations casually shrug off their own records or any interference to their acceptance of conflict oil from countries like Iran, and even go so far as to promote boycotts of Canadian oil. My advice to all those Hollywood has-beens who have been trying to restart their careers at the oil sands’ expense should turn their self-righteousness on their coal-fired U.S. energy industry. Honourable senators, over the coming weeks we will be gaining valuable insight into this issue. We will learn about our income tax policies, our legal framework, our Charter and about land use and natural resource management strategies. We will hear about harsh realities in OPEC countries and about how the Northern Gateway Review Panel has been hijacked by thousands of would-be interveners, many of whom do not even bother to show up to testify. We will hear about the lessons learned from Keystone and the impact of all of this on our economy. I am hoping this inquiry will raise the awareness of all Canadians to this troublesome manipulation of Canada’s domestic affairs by foreign interests. I am also hoping that the research conducted in preparation for every segment of this inquiry will point to a natural second phase of solutions. Thank you very much. Hon. Joan Fraser: I believe Senator Eaton’s time has expired, but I wonder if she would ask for a couple more minutes so I could put a question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is the honourable senator prepared to ask for more time? Senator Eaton: May I have more time to take Senator Fraser’s question? Hon. Senators: Agreed. Senator Fraser: This is not going to the profound substance of the honourable senator’s remarks. I will have to consider them very carefully and do some of my own research. However, my attention was caught by the honourable senator’s suggestion that by the invention of a catchy slogan, namely “tar sands,” is a recent thing. I had wondered if she had checked that. Many years ago, when I was starting out as a financial and economic reporter, I worked for an editor who was a western business writer. I had never heard of it before. He told me about this extraordinary phenomenon called the tar sands. He told me about Peter Pond and about the great wealth that lay there. In those days we did not know how to extract it, this is how long ago it was. However, he called it “tar sands.” I never heard the phrase “oil sands” until a comparatively few years ago and I wondered where she got the notion that this was a new catchy slogan devised by opponents. Senator Eaton: I think it is new in the way it is used. Yes, “tar sands” is a very old definition of “oil sands,” because, as honourable senators know, it used to seep up and First Nations used it to seal their canoes. I think now in the way it is used, “tar” means dirty and black. I think that is why they are using it. They are using it in a very pejorative sense. If you notice, anyone who is against the oil sands development always refers to them as the “tar sands” as opposed to the “oil sands.” Tar is really something that comes from pine tar, I think, so it is a different substance. Hon. Joseph A. Day: First, let me thank Senator Eaton for that well researched presentation. It was very interesting and I will look forward to reflecting on some of the points that she made. I just wanted to clarify the inquiry and her presentation so I understand it. The honourable senator talked about the interference of foreign foundations in Canada. That would be like the National Rifle Association pouring money into Canada to help influence decisions here in Canada. This is foreign money that they bring into Canada, but the second aspect she talked about is the abuse of Revenue Canada’s charitable status. Is she talking about foreign foundations coming in and raising money as charities in Canada, and then using it in Canada?
Senator Eaton: No. What I am referring to is that foreign foundations very often set up a Canadian counterpart. They give their money to the Canadian counterpart with a direct goal in mind. The Canadian counterpart, which acts as a clearinghouse or infrastructure, then gives the money to local Canadian charities, and it is deemed to be Canadian money. It is like a feeder foundation; the American charity feeds its American counterpart set up in Canada that then sends out money to other Canadian foundations. Of course, if you are a Canadian charitable foundation, you can get a tax receipt. (1730) I think the most important thing about charitable foundations is not the tax receipt so much as when a Canadian or any of us here sees that it is a charity, in quotes, or a foundation, we assume that it is doing good work. We do not question what they are doing. Senator Day: The second part I understand. It is the first part I am unclear about. If a Canadian registered charity gives out a tax receipt, it is only good against income generated in Canada. Therefore, this money that a foreign foundation raises elsewhere, wherever it might be, and brings into Canada would not be able to take advantage of a tax receipt in any way, the way I see it, unless they are raising money here in Canada. Senator Eaton: I think the honourable senator is asking a very technical question. My understanding is that some Canadian charities have reciprocal agreements with the U.S. and vice versa; i.e., the Stratford Festival raises money in Chicago and provides a tax receipt to an American. It works for them. However, say I am a foundation in the United States and I give to my foundation in Canada; it becomes Canadian money when I accept it. My Canadian foundation’s money is then streamed off to you, to you and to you. Because it has come from a Canadian registered foundation, it is Canadian money and a tax receipt is provided. The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate? Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I want to ask a question, if I could.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I am sorry, but the time is up, Senator Mitchell. Senator Mitchell: I will take the adjournment, then. (On motion of Senator Mitchell, debate adjourned.) 10
INQUIRY—DEBATE CONTINUED: FEB 29, 2012. From: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/Sen/Chamber/411/Debates/055db_2012-02-29-e.htm On the Order: Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Eaton calling the attention of the Senate to the interference of foreign foundations in Canada’s domestic affairs and their abuse of Canada’s existing Revenue Canada Charitable status. Hon. John D. Wallace: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to the inquiry of my colleague, Senator Eaton, on the interference of foreign foundations in Canada’s domestic affairs and their abuse of Canada’s existing Revenue Canada Charitable status. Honourable senators, having reviewed and given serious consideration to the matters raised by Senator Eaton’s inquiry, I must say that I have great concern over what I consider to be a serious and significant deficiency or gap in the current tax laws that govern registered charitable organizations. This gap or deficiency directly concerns the current public disclosure requirements, or, more to the point, the absolute total lack thereof, that relates to both the source and the amounts of financial donations that are able to be made by a foreign foundation to a Canadian registered charitable organization for the purpose of funding that charity’s political activities. I will explain further, and hopefully the following information will be of assistance to honourable senators. Under the mandate of the Canada Revenue Agency, the federal Income Tax Act requires charities to be registered in order to maintain their tax exempt status. As I know all honourable senators are well aware, the Income Tax Act also provides specific tax incentives for both individuals and corporate donors who make gifts and donations to registered Canadian charities. The payment of these charitable donations to registered charities effectively reduces the amount of tax that would otherwise be payable by the taxpayer in that taxation year, whether in the form of a refundable tax credit for an individual donor or a charitable donation tax deduction from taxable income for a corporate donor. In either case, because both refundable tax credits and charitable donation tax reductions have the effect of reducing the amount of tax the taxpayer in question would otherwise be required to pay to Revenue Canada, the direct consequence is that all such deductions in income tax that would be otherwise payable effectively represent the amount of financial support that the federal government is providing on
behalf of the taxpayers of this country to support the charitable activities of the particular charity in question. Consequently, since Canadian registered charitable organizations are actually being funded both directly and indirectly by the general public, that is, the Canadian taxpayer through individual private donations as well as the federal government’s charitable tax incentives, I strongly believe that all Canadian citizens have a direct vested interest in the operations and activities of these Canadian charitable organizations. Honourable senators, to assist you in better understanding the relationship that currently exists between registered Canadian charities and their activities, including the provision of funding from foreign foundations, I will provide a brief overview of some of the requirements and restrictions that relate to “Canadian registered charities, charitable organizations, charitable purposes and activities” as well as what is known as “other permitted related activities,” which do include — and I repeat, do include — within prescribed limitations certain permitted “political activities” by our Canadian registered charities. I will begin with what is meant by the term “charity.” “Charity” is defined in the Income Tax Act as “charitable organization” or “charitable foundation.” A charitable organization as regulated by the Canada Revenue Agency must have “exclusively charitable purposes” and devote all of its resources to what is referred to as charitable activities in support of those purposes. In the context of Senator Eaton’s inquiry, and more specifically in respect of what Revenue Canada considers to be charitable purposes and charitable activities, the term “charitable” is not defined in the Income Tax Act. Instead, the common law, or decided case law, has determined that for purposes and activities to be considered charitable, they must fall within one or more of the following categories: first, the relief of poverty; second, the advancement of education and/or religion; and third, purposes that would be “beneficial to the community” and that do not fall within any of the preceding categories. Examples of these purposes beneficial to the community include relieving a condition associated with aging, preventing and relieving sickness, providing public amenities or providing counselling for people in distress. Honourable senators, I realize that this discussion about definitions of charitable and charitable purposes and activities not only seems to be but is, in fact, more than somewhat tedious. However, I believe it is important that each of us has some basic understanding of what Canadian registered charitable organizations are permitted to do, particularly regarding their
potential participation and involvement in “political activities,” to which I will speak more in a moment. It is also important to appreciate that a Canadian registered charitable organization, within certain permitted limits, may be involved with “other activities.” However, these other permitted activities must relate directly to that particular charity’s registered charitable purpose and be a reasonable means of achieving it. These other related activities include such things as business and social fundraising activities and, of particular note for the purpose of Senator Eaton’s inquiry, political activities. For all honourable senators to have an informed understanding of the potential interplay between these political activities of Canadian registered charitable organizations and the activities and provision of funding to these organizations by foreign foundations, one of the key questions to be answered is this: What political activities can a Canadian registered charitable organization be involved in that would not be contrary to the existing requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency? The Income Tax Act has established limits on the legally permissible political activities of charitable organizations. Specifically, these political activities must be nonpartisan and connected and incidental to the registered charitable purpose of the charitable organization in question, and the organization must devote what is referred to as “substantially all of its resources” to its registered charitable purpose. (1540) Furthermore, in this regard, honourable senators, political activities undertaken by Canadian registered charitable organizations must not include direct or indirect support of or opposition to any political party or candidate for public office. Perhaps the most widely accepted definition of political purposes that are not considered charitable is contained in the leading 1981 case of McGovern v. Attorney General, which refers in this regard to a direct and principal purpose that is either to further the interests of a particular political party or to procure changes in the laws of the country or to procure a reversal of government policy or particular decisions of governmental authorities in this country. Once again, these are political purposes that are not to be considered charitable. Additionally, honourable senators, Canadian courts will not characterize an entity as a charitable organization or permit it to maintain its charitable status under the Income Tax Act if a substantial part of the charity’s
activities are devoted to political purposes — I repeat, a substantial part of a charity’s activities. Another question that needs to be addressed is what are the monetary limits, if any, that can be spent by a Canadian registered charitable organization on political activities that are considered permissible by Revenue Canada? These monetary limits and the conditions attached to these limits are set out in Canada Revenue Agency Policy Statement CPS-022. To summarize briefly, they are as follows: When a charity takes part in political activities and, as previously stated, the Income Tax Act does require that substantially all of its resources must be devoted to charitable activities. The term “resources” is not defined in the act but is considered by Revenue Canada to include the total of a charity’s financial assets, as well as everything the charity can use to further its purposes such as staff, volunteers, directors and its premises and equipment. In this regard, honourable senators, it becomes very apparent that, in respect of any particular registered charitable organization, the dollar value of its resources can be considerable indeed. Revenue Canada normally considers “substantially all of its resources” to mean 90 per cent or more. Therefore, as a general rule, a charitable organization that devotes no more than 10 per cent of its total resources a year to political activities is generally considered to be operating within the “substantially all” requirement. Smaller charities with annual incomes of less than $200,000 can, on a sliding scale, devote from between 12 to 20 per cent of their resources to permissible political activities. Canadian charities are able to receive donations from non-resident individuals and non-resident charities. Furthermore, Canadian charities and private and public foundations are required to report on their annual information return to Canada Revenue Agency any donations or gifts of any kind that are valued at $10,000 or more and are received from any donor not resident in Canada. Honourable senators, currently there are no limitations regulating the amounts a Canadian registered charitable organization can accept in the form of donations from foreign foundations. All such donations received from foreign foundations are nowhere to be found on any record that is publicly accessible in this country. There is currently no public disclosure requirement in this regard. There is absolutely no public transparency.
Under current Canadian law, substantial financial donations can be provided by foreign corporations to a Canadian registered charitable organization in order to fund permissible political activities of that particular charity and, as a consequence, thereby directly influence the domestic public affairs of this country. To think that all of this can presently occur with the foreign foundation’s involvement being entirely removed from any public scrutiny or knowledge, honourable senators, is totally unacceptable. Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear! Senator Wallace: In any given year, a foreign foundation could effectively provide the entire political activities funding requirement of a Canadian registered charitable organization and, as I stated previously, the total amount of this political activities funding could be up to 10 per cent of the total dollar amount of a charitable organization’s total resources, which could be a considerable amount indeed. I submit to you, honourable senators, that all Canadian citizens have the right to know, and even more than that, must have the opportunity to know, the extent of the potential involvement by foreign foundations in the financial affairs of Canadian registered charitable organizations. Only then will all Canadian citizens be in a position to pass their own personal, independent judgment on the nature and extent of the political activities and motives of Canadian registered charitable organizations and the foreign foundations that provide them with financial support. Honourable senators, the Canadian public, the Canadian taxpayer, is entitled to absolutely nothing less. (On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Mitchell, debate adjourned.) 15
INQUIRY—DEBATE CONTINUED: MAR 06, 2012. http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/Sen/Chamber/411/Debates/057db_2012-03-06-e.htm On the Order: Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Eaton calling the attention of the Senate to the interference of foreign foundations in Canada’s domestic affairs and their abuse of Canada’s existing Revenue Canada Charitable status. Hon. Doug Finley: Honourable senators, I rise today to hopefully add further context to the inquiry opened by Senator Eaton and expanded by Senator Wallace last week regarding the infiltration of foreign influence under the guise of Canadian charitable foundations. Why are foreign foundations spending so much money in Canada instead of in their own or in needy Third World countries? It is important that Canadians are aware that American interests are behind many of the so-called “grassroots movements” taking place in Canada today. Shady foreign money is being used to influence Canadian domestic and commercial policy in an obscure fashion. U.S. charitable foundations, which may perhaps have their own economic and market-driven agendas, are contributing major dollars to pseudo and radical environmental groups in Canada. (1500) There is nothing wrong with groups advocating for environmental conservation. However, there is a problem when their unstated intent is to undermine Canadian industries and do irreparable damage to Canada’s economy. The environmental movement has been benignly trusted in Canada for far too long without being called into question. It is high time they were held to some account. Reference was made by Senator Eaton regarding assertions that United States-based charitable foundations do not necessarily serve Canadian interests. We should ask ourselves why U.S. charities are concentrating so much of their funding activity in Canada. If the genuine concern was purely environmental, surely Canada would not be the only country under such considerable foreign intervention, especially when Canadian oil producers are already held to among the highest environmental regulations and standards in the world.
Does Saudi Arabia or Iran even have environmental standards? Technically, we do not know because they are dictatorship regimes that will not tell us. We can freely speculate, however. Canadians deserve more information about the significant sums of cash flowing across the border. This money is being deployed to damage support for projects that stand to generate considerable economic activity and jobs in Canada. The Tides Foundation is an organization that is “values-based,” focusing on “social change.” Tides funds over 230 groups, including a number of groups in Canada to “work in partnership with people whose work confronts issues like global warming, AIDS treatment and prevention, and economic disparity.” To this end, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund have received grants from Tides Foundation totalling US $350,000 for their “tar sands campaign.” These are the same people who fund “Rethink Alberta,” a campaign that fundamentally engages in disparaging Alberta tourism. In 2010 alone, Tides USA paid a total of 36 organizations $4.8 million for their participation in the anti-oil sands campaign. Corporate Ethics International, which runs the Rethink Alberta campaign, received $1,450,000 from Tides in that same year. To provide comparison, the Tides Foundation funded a rape intervention project in Sub-Saharan Africa with a charitable sum of US$9,000; a generous donation of US$9,998 was granted to a project to support people with HIV in Indonesia; and a program in Tanzania received an impressive US$5,802 for an AIDS prevention initiative. I am not criticizing anyone for providing relief to the Third World, but I ask honourable senators where they would place Tides’ priorities. It certainly would not appear to be in Sub-Saharan Africa or in Indonesia. It would seem that Tides is spending significantly more in Canada, one of the most environmentally secure and economically thriving countries in the world, with campaigns discouraging tourism and destroying industries than they are in developing countries. The oil sands in Alberta not only create high-paying jobs, but they also generate revenue for governments and will continue to do so for decades to come. There are significant spinoffs for all Canadian provinces and territories, including job-hungry Ontario and Quebec. These revenues support local businesses, develop innovative technologies, boost the Canadian economy and support traditional charities.
For some perverse reason, Tides and other multi-billion dollar foreign foundations see it as a more effective investment to adversely influence Canada’s economy rather than contribute to traditional charitable causes in far more needy parts of the world. In what fashion do these campaigns provide any beneficial or charitable purpose to the Canadian public? It would look as if the only purpose they have served is influencing our national debate by making misleading and exaggerated charges. It should never be considered a charitable act to attack Canada’s oil sands. “Charity” is a word that, like many others in the English language, has become distorted, contaminated and debased over the centuries. It has migrated from being largely a religious-based concept — in fact, Saint Paul described charity as one of the three primary Christian graces — to the extent that it has now become part of the murky lexicon of financial, political and other institutions. Charities were originally established to assist in the relief of poverty, the advancement of education and religion, and for the benefit of the broader community. Of course, the charity concept has broadened, and rightly so, to include invaluable efforts to promote medical research and the like. I fail to recognize where foreign-funded, radical, economically motivated environmentalists fall into any of these categories. Rather, these campaigns claim environmental concern, masquerade as “grassroots” movements, and undermine the credibility of Canadian industries. The simple reality is we have to use oil for most modes of transportation. There is no other universally practical alternative right now. If the supply does not come from Canada, then it will have to come from somewhere else. Would we rather market share go to Saudi Arabia or Iran? No. However, groups in Canada are receiving major grants from foreign foundations to achieve just that. Do you know what is particularly galling about that, honourable senators? They are receiving unfettered charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency — that is what. Using foreign money, these groups are selfishly slanting Canadian domestic policies in a shadowy and, I would say, Machiavellian manner. If we allow American groups to do this, why not facilitate other nations to do so, who, perhaps, are not quite so democratic? Let me provide my colleagues with further contextual information.
Since 2003, the Hewlett Foundation, based in California, has granted a total of $25.7 million for various projects to “address” the energy sector in Canada. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, based in California, has granted at least $80 million to environmental organizations working in Canada. Another organization, the Lazar Foundation, from Portland, Oregon, has furnished funds in a particularly targeted fashion on drafting reports targeting Canadian natural resources. The most crucial part surrounding all of this is that not one of these foundations is headquartered in Canada and yet these groups are freely granted protected, nondisclosure tax status for interfering in issues of national importance. Canadian shell foundations are receiving large sums of money from trusts based in the U.S., and the Canadian public has every right to know about it. Canadian residents freely have such knowledge when it comes to foreign investment in business. While one cannot mix oil and water, when it comes to these so-called “charitable” acts from U.S. foundations, we can certainly mix oil and fish. (1510) Let me tell you a story. Back in the early 2000s, British Columbia had a lucrative salmon farming industry, whereas Alaska’s salmon ranching industry was very much in decline. According to a 2011 National Post article, since 2000, the Packard Foundation, an American group based in San Francisco, has paid some $83 million for various projects that have diverted market share away from B.C. farmed salmon toward Alaskan ranched salmon. B.C. salmon farming has been demonized by various organizations, all paid for by Packard, while the value of Alaskan ranched salmon has tripled in price. Let us be clear: These are not campaigns opposing aquaculture organizations since they do not discourage buying Alaskan ranched salmon. These are campaigns motivated deliberately by American interests under the guise of erroneous public health concerns. Let me read you two comments that tell the tale, both from a Financial Post article from January of this year. Regarding B.C.: Marketing efforts for so-called sustainable fish going by the name of “Seafood Choices” have moved Wal-Mart to favour “Marine Stewardship Council” certified seafood — of which Alaskan salmon comprises 95%.
Regarding Alaska, since 2002, the ex-vessel value of Alaskan salmon has more than tripled from $125 million to $409 million. Let no one believe that Canadians are entirely innocent in this nefarious adventure. In fact, everybody’s favourite fruit fly biologist, David Suzuki, has been one of the biggest obstacles facing the aquaculture industry in Canada. The David Suzuki Foundation released a report compiled by Dr. Michael Easton that made claims about the high levels of contaminants in farmed salmon. These damaging allegations have since generated unwarranted controversy within the industry and have done irrefutable damage to the Canadian aquaculture sector. Not surprisingly, during the 2005 B.C. provincial election, NDP leader Carole James pledged to forbid expansion of the salmon farming industry. She remarked: “It’s my understanding jobs will be lost anyway, because people are losing their taste for farmed fish.” Mrs. James’ rather careless view of an industry that puts thousands of people to work in her province is typical of the unbalanced approach between environmental rhetoric and the economic impact pronounced by the left. Although the findings of this report have been repudiated extensively with firm scientific evidence, Suzuki has not stopped. The Packard Foundation paid the David Suzuki Foundation US $762,000 for Pacific Salmon Forests, a project that produced a brochure entitled Why You Shouldn’t Eat Farmed Salmon. In 2010, the aforementioned and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation paid the David Suzuki Foundation a further $8.3 million to “establish an ocean plan for Canada’s Pacific North Coast.” May I have a further five minutes’ indulgence? The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is five more minutes granted, honourable senators? Hon. Senators: Agreed. Senator Finley: I would like to quote a 2010 article filed by the National Post: The Cohen inquiry, launched this week, will bring a microscope to the fish-farm industry on the Fraser River, where wild salmon stocks collapsed last summer. Last week, William Shatner —
— a great Canadian — — endorsed a federal NDP push to bring more regulation to fish farms. And dozens of environmental NGOs (ENGOs) including Greenpeace and the David Suzuki Foundation are behind Ms. Morton’s efforts to restrict B.C.’s farmed salmon industry. More to the point, the environmentalists have millions of dollars to help their cause from a quiet but powerful ally: Americans. This is not a conspiracy. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute admits it has received “lots of private foundation money” from billion-dollar funds such as the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust to help fight B.C.’s fish farms and pressure stores and restaurants to boycott their products. The foundations aren’t concealing it, either. B.C. fish farms threaten Alaska’s wild salmon industry, after all, and the coastal communities that depend on it. Nothing personal; this is business. “The issue is not the environment. I think the issue is competition,” says Vancouver seafood industry researcher Vivian Krause. “American wild-fish interests are thwarting the [Canadian] farm-fish interests in the name of science, sustainability and conservation.” . . . Even Ms. Morton, godmother of the anti-fish farm movement, acknowledges that too many anti-fish-farm groups have been captured by American interests. She says she cut her own ties from U.S.-connected funds two years ago. Over the past decade, Canada’s coastal communities have suffered substantial economic hardships, and the environmental activism funded by these foreign foundations has invested millions in linking Canadian salmon farming to the notion of environmental and health risks. Foreign money has effectively mobilized a narrative degrading Canada’s aquaculture industry. To quote an article published in the UBC Press: In doing so, these networks have popularized the conflict, brought significant media attention to bear on the issue, and disseminated claims about Canadian aquaculture across a nation and around the world. Honourable senators, the issue here is about accountability. In both the U.S. and Canada, a large number of groups that campaign against Canadian industries are funded by these billion-dollar foreign foundations. Their political interference significantly and sinisterly slants the debate in Canada and is likely to be geared in favour of foreign interests.
Regrettably, Canadian financial statements from charity and not-for-profit organizations fail entirely to require a disclosure of detailed information, which would facilitate transparency and accountability in terms of how the funds are raised and how they are used. Such information should be filed with the Canada Revenue Agency and be made public on a department’s website in a complete and accurate format. It has been estimated that since 2000, U.S. foundations have funneled well over a quarter of a billion dollars to various organizations and campaigns in Canada. However, Canadians are blind to this suspiciously duplicitous use of foreign money because they do not know it is happening. We should be regulating our charities and making them more accountable for how they raise, spend and distribute money. As Senator Wallace eloquently highlighted, regrettably our rules are few. Principle one requires registered charities to spend 80 per cent of tax-receipted donations on charitable works. Principle two, as far as the Canada Revenue Agency is concerned, is that what they do with the non-receipted donations or any other income, including billions in government grants, is up to them. Canadians need to march with their phones and computers to tell Carol Larson of the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, Melissa Bradley of the Tides Foundation and Peter Robinson of the David Suzuki Foundation that they will not stand for this. (1520) Most importantly, I would also ask that all senators support any potential revision of Canadian tax legislation to ensure that Canadians are aware of this transparency gap and have the tools to follow the money. I am sure before this debate is complete that Senator Eaton will likely have a solution for this problem. Hon. Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, like my colleague Senator Finley, I rise today to speak to the inquiry initiated by Senator Eaton on the involvement of foreign foundations in Canada’s domestic affairs. You will recall that the senator brought to our attention that over $300 million has been funneled into our country with very little, if any, public disclosure or transparency. I think it is also important to refer to Senator Wallace’s presentation on this issue, as he outlined that currently there are no limitations regulating the amounts that a Canadian registered charitable organization can accept in the form of donations from foreign foundations. All such donations received from foreign foundations are nowhere to be found in any record that is publicly accessible in this country. He went on to
say that there is currently no public disclosure requirement in this regard; there is absolutely no public transparency. Simply put, honourable senators, Canada’s present income tax treaty with the United States allows American foundations to contribute funds into Canadian charitable organizations. It is becoming more and more evident that in some cases these funds are being used for political purposes with very little, if any, public scrutiny or accountability. As Senator Eaton informed us, it is estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars have been channeled into Canada through these foreign foundations. In fact, the information that is available for our consideration has to be accessed through the Unites States Internal Revenue Service, as the Canada Revenue Agency does not disclose the origin of foreign donations. Furthermore, credit has to be given to a young woman from the West Coast, Vivian Krause, a single mother with a computer at her kitchen table. She has taken it upon herself to unearth this information and has spent countless hours going over U.S. tax returns. This process of channeling money from foundations in the United States into Canada has gone on for years without Canadians realizing this was happening. Honourable senators, this, in my judgment, is wrong. We must take steps to revise the system and require greater transparency and disclosure so that Canadians can ask questions. We have to ask the question, “Why?” Why are these foreign foundations so interested in Canada? Why are they contributing so much money when we know there are greater environmental, social and economic concerns elsewhere in the world? To put it into perspective, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the oil sands in an entire year is equivalent to those emitted by China in two days. One would think that these groups should be more focused on changing this, rather than deliberately discrediting an industry that is working diligently to meet its environmental responsibilities. As we stand back and review the past 10 years, it is interesting to note the West Coast of Canada has become less and less accessible for any development as more restrictive land designations are put in place. Currently there are plans to develop a marine park from the tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border, once again funded in most part by an American foundation. More and more Canadians are beginning to ask, “Why are these U.S. foundations so interested in us?” There is a theory now being expressed in many quarters that the long-term objective is to influence public opinion in
an attempt to prevent Canada from accessing the markets of Southeast Asia. I should also point out that with only one purchaser for its oil, Canada sells at a significant discount to the United States. In a recent report of last week the discount was as high as $24 per barrel. Another theory also being expressed is that this is a well-financed, well-organized movement by foreign interests to make Canada one big park, to be the preserve of those who might visit us once a year. Only time will tell. In recent years we have witnessed representatives from some of these organizations with designated charitable status actively supporting political parties at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. The revelations that have been brought to the public’s attention have very serious consequences for our country. It is a sad day for us as Canadians if we allow these foreign organizations to continue to take advantage of our tax system for a purpose that it was not designed to accommodate. This has to be of concern to Canadians because we have a large amount of tax-exempt money coming into our country, which is influencing public policy. Even more distributing is that there is no disclosure of where the money comes from or why. This is not acceptable and we must have transparency and disclosure. It is interesting to note that it is much easier for American organizations to donate to Canadian charities than vice versa. This is because Canadian registered charities are not permitted to make grants to non-qualified organizations. I think common sense dictates that tax-exempt organizations should provide full disclosure of foreign financing to the Canadian public. There certainly needs to be some explanation as to where this money is going and why it is being spent. We should make sure that all information regarding the fundraising of tax-exempt foundations is made available for full public disclosure. The lack of transparency and disclosure is a very broad issue that allows for the potential of abuse. I refer honourable senators to the 2009 report by the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration entitled Report on Abuses of Charities for Money-laundering and Tax Evasion. This report outlines ways in which money can be laundered into our country for a number of illegal purposes, including tax evasion and terrorism. These are also very serious issues that need to be considered.
Perhaps, honourable senators, we need to revisit the way that charities are defined in Canada. In order to be registered as a charitable group, current regulations require that the group must achieve at least one of the following purposes: the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion, and certain other purposes that benefit the community in a way the courts have said is charitable. The fourth purpose is vague, as the parameters are quite broad. This category has been defined over the course of recent history through case law and precedent. I do not believe that it was Parliament’s intention that charitable groups would be funded by foreign agencies without full disclosure and transparency. I do not believe it was the intention of Parliament to allow groups with charitable status to affect the outcome of municipal, provincial or federal elections. There are two major aspects that we need to pay attention to. The first is what do we, as Canadians, feel is charitable? The second is what kind of disclosure and transparency should we demand? My recommendation to improve our current system and decrease the amount of potential abuse that can occur would be to re-examine the definition of charity. I believe that some of these groups would be better defined as a lobby group or a non-profit interest group. This status would differentiate them from the charitable status that they currently have. While non-profit groups are permitted some tax exemptions, I think this shift would better indicate whether the organization is a charity, interest group or a lobby group. Honourable senators, people have the right to spend their money however they wish, but I think we need to have the discussion of what charity means. Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, I absolutely agree with Senator Lang, for whom I have great respect. We need to have this discussion. I am just struck by the irony of it. (1530) I am noticing the Finley-Eaton tag team. They are getting good at this as they have done this a few times — you have to admire it. The first time they did it on the old freedom of speech indignation and self-righteousness where they stood on their hind legs and said that Ann Coulter from the United States was being thwarted in her right to speak freely in Canada because the university asked her to be careful. They did not shut her out the room or anything like that. Ann Coulter said that Alberta should be the fifty-first
state. That is okay, and I bet you she was brought in by some kind of charity that probably had a tax deduction to do it. The second case where they did this was on ethical oil. However, they forgot one important feature of their ethical oil argument: The U.S. should buy our oil because it is ethical and it is more secure. That is true, but they forgot to point out that the Maritimes are buying the same oil as the U.S., and it is perhaps not so ethical or secure; so, who is worried about that? Now we have the third effort in this regard. I want to point out that there are some fundamental weaknesses in this one just as there were in the other two. [Translation] Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I would like some clarification. I thought that Senator Mitchell was going to ask Senator Lang a question. I see that he is using his right to speak. [English] The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Does the Honourable Senator Mitchell have a question? Senator Mitchell: This is on debate; I am debating this. The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Before the honourable senator proceeds with his debate, some had questions to put to Senator Lang. May I interrupt? Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, I am sorry. I will start over, though. Hon. Michael Duffy: Honourable senators, I have a question for Senator Lang. In the interests of transparency, I found it interesting that some of the main donors who seemed to be trying to interfere in the Canadian economy actually have big stakes in the Canadian economy. Would Senator Lang agree with me that the next time Canadians go computer shopping, they should remind themselves that the David and Lucile Packard Foundation is one-half of the Hewlett-Packard that makes computers and printers, which we probably all have in our offices. Would the honourable senator agree that it is important to remember about the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation that Gordon Moore is the co-founder of Intel, the computer chip maker, and
we all have these devices in our offices? Would the honourable senator agree that Canadians should remind themselves of who is on the side of Canada and who is only on the side of themselves? Senator Lang: I have to agree with the honourable senator. I want to make an important point: We have to recognize that many people outside our borders are very interested in our country. We are privileged to be Canadians and to have the country we have and the resources we have. We have a responsibility to develop them in a responsible way not only environmentally but also economically. Other interests out there, as Senator Finley and I pointed out, have some economic interests in keeping our resources and directing them in such a manner that is to their benefit and not necessarily to Canada’s benefit. It is important in this debate that we understand, for example with the proposed gateway pipeline, that outside forces are paying indirectly to put up opposition and create public opinion against the project. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we have already seen how technologies are affecting our ability to go ahead with a project like this when one particular non-governmental organization proudly stated that they got more than 600 people to apply to be interveners in the process. That will cause a delay of up to a year in any definitive decision being made about that pipeline. If I were a senator from Alberta, I would be very concerned about the regulatory process in place to review all the information environmentally, socially and economically to look at the viability of this project. Now, we are seeing a political warfare where suddenly we are arguing over whether there should be a pipeline, not whether we can build it and what the risks are. The public is getting lost in the process, which is a shame, honourable senators. I do not like the fact that we are being influenced by big money outside our borders, when this is a Canadian decision. Hon. Don Meredith: I thank the Honourable Senator Lang for his presentation. Something near and dear to my heart in Canada is charities. There are a lot of government cutbacks, and charities depend on organizations to solicit funding to ensure they survive. I do not agree with American influences undermining our natural resources; I do not support that at all. However, I am looking at the charities and the day-to-day operations that they experience. They are not getting federal, provincial or municipal funding and are looking elsewhere. How do you propose that they carry on their work and advance the causes of poverty, education, at-risk youth and religion? How do you propose that? Senator Lang: Honourable senators, that is a very good question. I think I can speak for both sides of this house when I say it is a concern for all that 27
we continue to have prosperous charitable institutions in this country and that they are well financed. The question we are putting before honourable senators — one that we have to look at from a non-partisan point of view — is why there is so little, if any, public accountability and transparency with the type of money that is coming into this country? That is the point I am making. For our Canadian charities, the laws are probably sufficient. However, changes have happened in our system, in particular technology changes with the advent of the Internet, Facebook and Twitter, where we see a much more political involvement by certain organizations that cross the line of what a charity is. That must be looked at. I also want to say loudly and clearly from the perspective of all that we obviously want the charitable institutions in this country to carry on and get the money necessary to be able to do it. I am sure that if they knew and Canadians knew what we know and are debating here, Canadians would have concerns for their country. For example, the proposed northern gateway pipeline could be the lifeblood of our Canadian economy to provide the tax dollars to allow those charities and to allow us to meet our social obligations. If it is not built, what is the alternative? Do we sell our oil for less than the world market price to one particular buyer? We should be looking at all options, and the honourable senator from Alberta would have to agree with me on that. I hope he will support us as we move along. The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, are there further questions? On debate. Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, owing to the fact that I stood down to allow others to ask questions, I ask that the clock be restarted. Fair is fair, and it is freedom of speech, for crying out loud. Honourable senators have to admire the Finley-Eaton tag team — they are good at politics. They are sitting together, and they punch above their weight, one has to say, on ethical oil. However, they forget, of course, that by saying the U.S. should buy our ethical oil, what are we saying about the Maritimes who buy the same oil from the Middle East and from other countries that some construe as less than ethical? That is a facile and transparent argument, and that is why it did not work. The freedom of speech argument was to let Ann Coulter talk and to defend her right to speak while not defending the right of people in this country to stand up and fight for issues that are absolutely within the context of public policy debate in this country. (1540)
Let me go on. The other side’s arguments go like this: First, there is some kind of tax advantage or tax expenditure implicit on behalf of the Canadian taxpayer when international foundations are allowed to help fund foundation activities in Canada. Of course, there is no tax expenditure because the foundation here does not pay tax and the foundation there does not pay tax. There is no tax expenditure, period. In fact, where there is tax expenditure is on the other side — the companies that hire the government relations firms and the heavy-duty law firms to fight their case through the process on environmental issues. They get to write that expense off and that saves them tax money and, in effect, costs the Canadian taxpayers. If honourable senators want to talk about tax savings, it is not the foundations and not the charities, but the businesses. I am not against that, but they get to write off their expenses against money that they make in Canada. Of course, the rest of the money goes out of Canada — and we are not talking about that — along with many jobs. Second, when that does not work because they kind of twist off that argument — that is, the people who make this case, the Conservatives — and they say, “No, the problem is that at least some charities simply should not be allowed to participate in political activities.” They morph “political” and “partisan.” “Partisan” is different, and they do not participate in partisan activities — that is, supporting a political party — or they lose their charitable status, period. Let us talk about participation in political or public policy debate. Which dictator would decide which groups can participate, with their charitable status, on which issues to influence which public policy debate? I wonder how many churches get funding from international foundations on issues so that they can participate directly in the public policy debate on issues like abortion or gay marriage. How many gun advocates and gun advocate groups in Canada receive charitable foundation money from gun advocates and gun advocate groups in the United States? I wonder who is doing the research on that. Let us have an inquiry. Let us talk about the Fraser Institute. Their entire reason for being is public policy intervention in the public policy debate. How much money do they get from international foundations? Honourable senators, do you know what they say in their annual report? They say that 9 per cent of their contributors are international. They do not say what percentage of the $10 million that they raise every year is international. Conceivably, it could be $9.99 million. Some 99 per cent of what they raise could come from international foundations. However, they do not declare that. Let us talk about the Fraser Institute and what kind of money it gets from abroad.
Which dictator would say that it is okay for this group with its charitable status to participate in public policy debate, but it is not okay for that group to participate in public policy debate? What would the difference be? The difference would be whether or not that group takes the position that the government likes. Which dictator would decide? That dictator, and that would be a fundamental problem. The third position is that they fall back to the idea of openness. Senator Wallace is a very capable lawyer, obviously, from capable of the legal presentation that he made the other day. I do not think many environmental groups in this country would be opposed to declaring. In fact, I have one here. In its annual report, the Pembina Institute already does. It lists who gives it money. One of them is the Natural Resources Defense Council, an American group. It is one of the single biggest contributors. Honourable senators, go to the Fraser Institute’s annual report and you get a disingenuous “9 per cent of our contributors.” They do not tell you how much of their money in total comes from abroad. Therefore, yes, if you want to go there and open it up and have disclosure, excellent. I do not think that anyone would disagree with that. I certainly do not think that environmental groups are concerned about it. I can go on. They also get money from Suncor, Shell Canada and Cenovus. It is not like the energy industry itself is not funding these groups such as Pembina, which does participate on the environmental side to protect the environment. Then, when all else fails, they fall back to innuendo and aspersion. We heard the minister talk about how PACs, political action committees, are now surreptitiously investing in Canada. He did not mention any particular cases and was not able to tell us which PACs. Senator Eaton talked about how these groups, the foundations in the States, fund — what are they? — front foundations in Canada, yet there was no mention any of these front foundations. Now we hear about shady money. If there was ever an effort to intimidate, to attack and to cut the legs out from under them, that is exactly what it is. We now see money-laundering. This is hot on the heels of one of the ministers over there comparing environmentalists to white supremacists. What is becoming of this government and its inability to accept freedom of speech, and debate, and so on? You are with us or you are against us, absolutely. The other thing that they have to keep in mind is this: What cost is there in the message they are sending with this particular activity in Canada? Hot on the heels of the public relations disaster of Durban, the Keystone project is delayed for a good deal of time. What kind of message do the people in the
United States who want to stop that — environmentalists, coal interests and others — take from a trumped-up debate in Canada by this government that says, “We do not even want to talk about the environmental side of things. We do not even want to demonstrate that we are open to public discussion and policy debate about the environmental side of things.” Honourable senators, let us look at some of the substance of their argument. The premise is that if one does the environment, then one wrecks the economy. How yesterday is that? How 19th century is that? I will tell you what will wreck the economy — An Hon. Senator: Old school. Senator Mitchell: Yes, old school. You just keep doing what you are doing on climate change and you will wreck the economy absolutely, infinitely. In many ways, environmental groups are saving the economy and opening up possibilities for new economic endeavours. Do you know what? Dealing with climate change and greenhouse gas emissions will not hurt this economy one iota. It will promote this economy in many different ways, make us competitive and creative, reinvigorate us, create jobs that we have not imagined, and sustain international markets for our oil and gas and natural resources industries. Then, honourable senators, you start to say, well, if it is that there is not really a tax advantage for anyone on the environmental side, and if it is that charities have a right to participate in the public policy debate — because, if environmental ones do not, then neither would church ones, the gun control ones, the Fraser Institute, and the other economic right-wing think tanks have a right, so that does not work — then the fallback position is that we have to get disclosure. Well, no one is arguing against disclosure; let us have disclosure. Let us get the Fraser Institute in there to tell us who, exactly, is funding them. None of those things work. Innuendo and aspersion, I know, does not work; we all know that. Why is it that we are doing this? Well, I do not want to be cynical about it, but I am thinking that the government, the governing party, is so effective at raising money on hot-button issues. However, the crime agenda has passed on its way, because we passed that bill; and gay marriage and abortion are off the radar, apparently. What is the other one that has just been dealt with? Oh, gun control. Those hot-button issues are gone. I do not want to cast aspersions, but I am wondering if, perhaps, we are looking for another hot-button issue in the emails and letters that are going out right now saying, “Give us some money so that we can defend our
economy against the vagaries and the power of those environmental groups.” You know what is really at stake here, honourable senators? What is really the issue here is a government that is intimidating the democratic process. They are taking, I believe, surreptitious, aggressive, intimidating and bullying tactics to put the chill on people who want to disagree with them. These people have every right to appear before a process that has been set up by their government to review economic projects, and this government is saying that somehow there is something improper about that. Here is a government that has 1,500 communications experts — 1,500 probably cost them well over $100 million a year. They have the advantage of the Prime Minister’s office, of his pulpit, which is now, of course, by definition, a bully pulpit. They have the advantage of his level of exposure and of the public purse, billions of dollars. They have an oil industry that gets more funding in a single day than these foundations have ever received in the last 10 years. Yet, they are saying that, somehow, they are at a disadvantage in that debate. Why can they not just stand point for point, argument for argument, and debate for debate against these groups and allow the strength of their message and of their case, such as it is, to win on its own merits? (1550) That is what democratic debate is. That is what freedom of speech is. One of our colleagues in this house, former Senator Taylor, once said to me, when we were in the house in Alberta together, “Often, you have to be really, really careful because the cure can often be worse than the disease.” I know that there have not been excesses in the way we have handled our environmental review of projects and that our economy has been developed very, very aggressively. It is not as though there is a shortage of jobs in Alberta. There are so many jobs we cannot fill them. I am looking at a government that somehow, at some level, is so insecure that it has to bully and intimidate. If I can go back to my Monty Python examples, in Life of Brian, the poor knight has just had all four limbs chopped off. He is there on what is left of his legs, and he is saying, “Come back and fight, you coward! Come back and fight!” In a sense, you are cutting the legs out from under these environmental groups. They do not have anything like the resources that you have, and they have an absolute right to raise legal money wherever they want, to fight this fight and to debate this debate. You are trying to intimidate them, in spite of the fact that you would stand here and talk about freedom of speech.
I will close with a quick statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who said that a Conservative government is an organized hypocrisy. If ever there was an example of that, it is this debate right here. Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, I would like to join the Eaton-Finley tag team and therefore move the adjournment of the debate in my name. (On motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned.) [Translation]