Exposing the Canadian oil sector’s victim complex

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This is part four of a four-part series, in which Canada’s National Observer presents a data-based dismantling of the false claim that Alberta’s oil and gas sector has been targeted by a cabal of American foundations.

When Jason Kenney claims, without evidence, that Alberta’s oilsands have been targeted by a cabal of American philanthropic foundations, he speaks with the confidence of someone who thinks his claims are unfalsifiable, impossible to disprove. And he’s cynically betting that Canadians, unwilling or unable to investigate the matter on their own, will give him the benefit of the doubt.

But he’s wrong. His claims are, in fact, falsifiable. We know this because we examined them: After nine months spent investigating public charity records on Candid, America's most comprehensive foundation and charitable monitoring site, we found that every core tenet of the foreign-funding conspiracy theory is false. And, in this four-part series, we will prove it by systematically debunking nine key myths associated with Kenney’s scare-mongering rhetoric.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is the third largest international funder in Canada, and has granted hundreds of millions of dollars supporting Canadian coastal rainforest and marine habitat preservation. According to sources with knowledge of this funding, Moore's involvement in Canada goes back to at least the year 2002.

In unpacking this wholly uncorroborated speculation, it's important to know that the Moore Foundation is not viewed as political or partisan, did not participate in the Tar Sands Campaign, and indeed partnered with the Harper government in the creation of the Great Bear Rainforest.

Uniquely among environmental funders, Moore expressly excludes climate change as a funding priority, preferring to sharply focus its efforts on a small range of projects for impact on a globally important scale.

As one such example, since the foundation's inception, Moore has committed $600 million to preserving some 170 million hectares of the Amazon rainforest.

Most significantly, Moore is an unparalleled leader in North Pacific ocean health and marine habitat preservation. It has developed unique expertise in protecting the wild salmon ecosystem along the entire North Pacific, from California through British Columbia to the Arctic coastline, and across to Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.

Including its Amazon initiative, since inception the Moore Foundation has granted over $2 billion dollars on highly localized environmental conservation.

Moore's considerable Canadian grants, administered through a DAF managed by Tides Canada, have particularly focused on protecting the coastal waters of Great Bear Rainforest, with the goal of preserving the largest remaining intact temperate rainforest and one of the most pristine wilderness environments in the world. In collaboration with the Nature Conservancy and other funders, Moore's grants support the development of a conservation economy generating sustainable employment for First Nations coastal communities and local residents.

Those original funding efforts were matched by the Harper government in 2007 by then-environment minister John Baird.

Because many of the First Nations and environmental groups funded through the Moore Foundation also opposed the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, on the strength of this correlation alone, it's now claimed that the true purpose of Moore's grants was not environmental protection but protection of the American trade monopoly on Canadian oil.

This, notwithstanding that Moore was engaged and focused on marine habitats years before there was a whisper of a pipeline.

Just five years after John Baird partnered with the Great Bear Rainforest funders, his successor Peter Kent would be attacking Moore and other foundations as money-launderers, while senators and other government leaders compared them to criminals and terrorists.

Undeterred by politics and headlines, the Moore Foundation continued its work of prioritizing ocean health, supporting the Canadian government-led Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) process, as well as the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP), a co-led process between 16 First Nations and the B.C government.

As should be obvious, given its focus on Pacific salmon habitats, it would be odd for the Moore Foundation to exclude the British Columbia coastline. It shouldn't need pointing out that charitable foundations are not prone to granting hundreds of millions of dollars on speculation that environmental funding can stop pipelines.