Canada upside down

Graphic of Canada upside-down by Hanna Stefan 

This is the story of the Harper government's attack on the world's most respected foundations, organizations which only a short time ago, the government regarded not only as friends, but key strategic partners in improving the quality of life in this country.  It started with an attack on science when the Canadian government made it clear it preferred its scientists the way the Victorians preferred their children:

“Be seen and not heard, and speak when you are spoken to.”

In Dark Age Ahead, the foreboding work that closed her career and life, the Canadian urban criticism giant Jane Jacobs pointed to decay in the critical and effective practice of science as one harbinger of cultural collapse in modern civilization.

Science under fire 

Jacobs had reason for concern, because science in Canada is under the strongest attack in living memory.

In a move that stunned the global scientific community, in March 2010 the Canadian government forbade government scientists from discussing their findings in public without permission. This development brought a storm of censure from the global scientific community, from internationally acclaimed academic journal Nature, the World Federation of Science Journalists, the Canadian Science Writers Association and leading Canadian academics.

It is not only scientific conclusions and opinions that are being suppressed. In the name of cutting expenses, valuable research activities, facilities and programs are being cut as well. One example is the closure of Canada’s, and the world’s only pristine freshwater environment research facility, the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario. This move again drew international criticism from world leading scientists, academics, researchers, as well as scientific associations from Israel to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre.

In an era where budget restraints limit neither our multi-billion dollar fighter jet program nor the building of prisons to cope with an as-yet undetected crime wave, the shuttering of scientific research facilities speaks volumes.

And most recently, the Canadian government opened another front in its attack on science, challenging Canadian conservation based non-profits and advocacy groups that accept donations from reputable American charitable foundations.

In an open letter to Canadians in January, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver came out swinging against “environmental and other radical groups", singling out “jet-setting celebrities” that seek to influence Canadian policy and public opinion on resource extraction and development projects such as the proposed Enbridge pipeline. 

Not to be outdone, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews proposed putting environmentalists on Canada’s terrorist watch, while Environment Minister Peter Kent publicly accused American charitable foundations of laundering fortunes through Canadian environmental NGOs.

In our own Senate, Conservative Senator Donald Plett rose to liken US charitable foundations to terrorist groups such as “Al Qaeda, Hamas and the Taliban.” To the braying of Senator Mike Duffy, who called them “anti-Canadian,” Senator Percy Mockler announced to his fellow Senators: “…I want to bring to your attention some of the qualified bad, not to mention ugly, foundations, namely…” then read their names to be recorded in Hansard for posterity.

When scientists become the enemy of government, the language shifts, and suddenly they are “environmentalists” and “radicals” “bad” and “anti-Canadian.”

This is a very bizarre twist, and here’s why:

Five years ago, the Harper government was thrilled to do business on exactly the model that it now vilifies as anti-Canadian money laundering. It entered into a conservation agreement to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in partnership with several American foundations in an agreement negotiated by Tides Canada.

The Harper and BC governments both put in $30 million each, while The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation put in $10 million of the amount that foundations gave to match the government's $60 million. With funds topped up by other major foundations including both Packard and Hewlett, the total funding commitment from all parties came to $120 million--almost half of which was provided by these same American foundations.

The purpose? Promoting environmentally sound practices in the world’s largest remaining intact coastal temperate rainforest. Pretty benign. 

At the time, Environment Minister John Baird applauded the historic agreement, and said that the government acted out of concern that the $60 million raised by Tides Canada was in jeopardy of being lost. "I was tremendously concerned . . . that we could lose that, particularly the money coming from abroad*, so we didn't want to have that happen," Baird said at a Vancouver event where he shared the stage and microphone with First Nations leaders and Tides chief executive Ross McMillan.

* My emphasis

Everything was going so smoothly, when all of a sudden… 

Out of the blue came a great rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over a completely open and transparent process in which the Harper government itself was an active participant. The attack, when it came, was fierce and ruthless.

What on earth happened to bring it on?

Context, of course, is everything. In January of this year, Barack Obama bowed to pressure south of the border and shelved the Keystone XL pipeline expansion carrying Canadian oil to the Gulf of Mexico, adversely affecting the price Canada can get for our oil.

Suddenly, the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline route looked like the only way for Alberta oil to get to Asia and other markets, where it could probably command a much higher price.

Suddenly that conservation deal with Tides Canada and all those American foundations didn’t look so good. Check out this cool map from National Geographic showing the location of the proposed Enbridge pipeline port in Kitimat. Right in the middle of the Great Bear Rainforest's waters.

*Click on the white arrow icon in the image to enlarge 

Because it is here in Kitimat, and in BC’s protected forests and coastal waters, that the Enbridge pipeline proposal will meet its fiercest opposition.

Here’s a fair question. Does the location of the proposed Northern Gateway tanker route through the protected waters and coastline of the Great Bear Rainforest -- funded by the Moore, Hewlett and Packard foundations in a Tides Canada deal -- have anything to do with the fact that all of these organizations are now being pilloried by the very government that partnered with them?

Has the federal government decided to get out of the Great Bear Rainforest partnership, and calculated that the best way is to vilify and smear its own partners?

Just asking.

Meanwhile, it might be worth getting to know if we’ve really been palling around with terrorists. 

With enemies like these, who needs friends?

Here then, are some of the American foundations which have been named and accused by our government of fraudulent money-laundering and “ugly” “anti-Canadian” conduct:

 
 *Click on the white arrow icon in the image to enlarge 

Overview
The world’s tenth largest charitable foundation, the Hewlett Foundation was established in 1966 and manages $7.4 billion in assets.  It is a global foundation active in education, the environment, global development and population, the performing arts and promoting philanthropy.
 
Hewlett advances land, water and energy conservation in 12 states and 3 Canadian provinces, as well as Europe, China and Latin America. 
 

Leadership

President Paul Brest
  • Constitutional scholar and former Dean of Stanford Law School
Vice-chair Dr. Harvey Fineberg
  • Former Provost of Harvard University
  • Former Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health
  • President of the US National Academies Institute of Medicine. 
  • TED talk on evolutionary biology can be viewed here.


The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

 

Overview

Established in 1964, and managing $6.3 billion in assets, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation is the 16th largest charitable foundation in the world.  It seeks global impact in population and reproductive health; and science and conservation. 
 
In the field of conservation and science, the foundation seeks to drive change to support the world’s fisheries, pioneer new approaches to the conservation of ecosystems in California, the Gulf of California, Western Pacific Ocean, and the North American west.
 

Leadership 

Trustees include:
 
 Dr. Donald Kennedy
  • former Editor-in-chief of SCIENCE, journal of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.
  • President Emeritus of Stanford University 
  • Trustee, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Co-chair US National Academies’ Committee on Science, Technology and the Law.
Cole Wilbur
  • Former interim president and CEO of the US Council on Foundations
  • Director, Institute for Global Ethics
  • Director, University of San Francisco Institute for Nonprofit Management, among other designations.
  • Global leader in non-profit ethics and values.
 

Overview:
 
Founded in 2000, the Moore Foundation is the 20th largest in the world, and manages nearly $6 billion in assets. The foundation strategy is to make fewer gifts with substantial global impact in the fields of environmental conservation and science.
 
Moore major gifts include:
  • $219 million to forest and river conservation of the Amazon River basin in Columbia,
  • $250 million to design and build the world’s largest telescope in Hawaii,
  • $600 million to the California Institute of Technology, the highest ranked university in the world. The Gordon and Betty Moore gift is the largest donation to an institute of higher learning in history.

Board Leadership

Gordon and Betty Moore, Co-Founders

  • Co-founder and former CEO, Intel Corp.
  • Co-inventor, semi-conductor, author of Moore’s Law
  • former Chairman, California Institute of Technology, the world’s top-ranked research institute
  • Recipient, US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the US. 
Dr Bruce Alberts
  • 12 year president of the US National Academy of Sciences
  • Editor-in-chief, SCIENCE
  • former Co-Chair, InterAcademy Council, an international association of presidents of 15 national academies of science.
 
Dr. Rosina Bierbaum
  • Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Former Dean, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and the Environment
  • US Scientific Expert, Permanent Court of Arbitration on Natural Resources, the Hague
 
 

With enemies like these, who needs friends?

Maybe they could pick up the tab and save the Experimental Lakes Area.

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Censorship

One has to remember that studies funded and paid for by government in effect belong to the government. One just has to look to the aquaculture sector to see the damage done by foundation funded zealots calling themselves salmon warriors calling for the closure of salmon farms in British Columbia based on one activist's foundation funded psuedo science. This activist repeatedly makes statements in media and on internet websites claiming farmed salmon is diseased and unsafe for human consumption. The fact is she is funded by US foundations that have been shown to have an interest in promoting Alaska "wild" salmon. It is interesting to note that while this activist claims to promote the closure of net pen salmon farms in BC her agenda in the past has been to promote the Alaska commercial salmon fishery. The truth about Alaska is it's fish are mainly hatchery fish with little being actually "wild" and the truth is what Alaska calls "salmon ranching" is in effect salmon farming. The hatchery fish are raised in hatcheries then placed in open net pens the same as BC farmed salmon to grow for one year during which time they are fed the identical diet as farmed salmon in BC. They are then released to the wild to mingle openly with wild salmon and other species. One has to ask themselves why American Foundations are so intent on fighting via NGO groups every resource based industry BC and the rest of Canada has. The answer is easy. American Protectionism. Let's face it we are all aquainted with the American slogan " Buy American ". One funny  statement coming from a government that promoted Nafta which sent thousands of manufacturing jobs from both US and Canada to Mexico. Us so called charitable foundations are not funding charity in Canada they are funding the killing of Canadian jobs and the killing of the Canadian economy. That is why Harper's government needs to put a lid on US foundation funding. Am I the only one who questions why Pew foundation whose board is comprised of the Pew family are funding the halting of pipelines and oil sands exploration. Odd thing indeed considering under Sunoil they in fact started the original exploration of the Alberta oil sands. It's time our government halted the funding of Canadian environmental groups and our universities too by US foundations whose only agenda is to insure US interests are served first and served best.

It's not just Environmentalists...

In the name of "saving money", the Harper Government has been shutting down all kinds of science. The Communications Research Centre has lost a third of its funding in the last few months, despite an enviable record of creating technologies that support Canadian high-tech industries. The National Research Council is being decimated. Programs like IRAP that funnel taxpayer money to private companies are expanding (how does that save money?) while scientists who conduct world-class research are being laid off. Scientists in Health Canada, Agriculture Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and other departments with substantive responsibilities to protect Canadians and support industry all tell the same story. Canadians don't pay attention because science sounds boring, but they will be shocked when they discover how many decades and how many billiions will be required to rebuild our country's scientific infrastructure. And it will be required when our non-renewable resources are exhausted, our environment is poisoned, and our industries unable to compete in global markets.

 

Canada upside-down

Let us not forget Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science & Technology, and the government's state-sponsored creationism.

Science is important, but so is math

This article lost me at the following:

In an era where budget restraints limit neither our multi-billion dollar fighter jet program nor the building of prisons to cope with an as-yet undetected crime wave, the shuttering of scientific research facilities speaks volumes.

Not a single dollar has been spent on the F-35 program, and yeah, the "as-yet undetected crime wave" was the Vancouver riot last year. When the newspapers are wondering where we will keep the rioters in jail because not enough have been built, and when violent prisoners are given early release due to over crowding, then yeah, those are higher priorities for Canadians.

If Canadian scientist need more money then why not invent "Made in Canada" products, build and contribute directly to the growth of the Canadian economy instead of complaining about not getting more hand outs? We are NOT Greece, and should not act like the Federal Government is the only game in town.