Tory-linked "Ethical Oil" website slams Canadian enviros over "foreign funding"

Directors from Pembina Institute and Environmental Defence say most of their money comes from Canadian foundations, companies and individuals and that the "Ethical Oil" website is distorting the facts.

Ethical Oil's new website claims foreign funders are "sabotaging" Canada's economy. Screen capture from

Ethical Oil, a well-known pro-oil sands group supported by the industry and linked to the Conservative government, has introduced a new campaign claiming that foreign funding to environmental organizations compromises Canadian oil pipeline opposition.

The site, called, lists several major Canadian environmental groups and the donations they’ve received from American funding bodies. Describing these donors as “foreign billionaires” intent on “sabotaging the Canada’s national interest”, Ethical Oil says groups like the Pembina Foundation, West Coast Environmental Law, Ecojustice and Environmental Defence do not speak for Canadians and are manipulated by outside interests.

Pembina Institute's executive director, Ed Whittingham, said this attempt to smear the environmental community constitutes a “spurious and disingenuous argument”.

“It’s an interesting coupling of the ultra-right-wing movement and the anti-globalization movement,” he said of the “splashy” online campaign, which was launched alongside corresponding radio and print ads.  

Ethical Oil says the intention was to inform British Columbians ahead of the long-awaited public hearings over Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat. They have even activated a new Twitter handle, @ForeignPuppets, to directly mock and confront organizations speaking out against the project.

The pro-oil sands forum,, was originally created to promote the ideas in Sun News commentator Ezra Levant’s book, Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s oil sands. Until recently, it was operated by Alykhan Velshi – former staffer to Conservative Minister Jason Kenney and now director of planning for the Office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Alykhan Velshi and Minister Jason Kenney. Photo from

Now, Ethical Oil’s major spokesperson is Kathryn Marshall, a political commentator and columnist for 24 Hours Vancouver whose husband, pollster Hamish Marshall was previously manager of strategic planning for the Prime Minister’s office.

Kathryn Marshall debates Elizabeth May during the 2011 Durban climate conference. Screen capture from video.

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foreign funding? how about foreign ownership?

Ethical Oil had better check out the following link -

"PetroChina buys entire Alberta oilsands project"

If they're going to object to foreign funding of environmental groups, are they okay with the entire industry being sold to foreign ownership?


One could begin by asking how many of the companies in the Calgary oil patch have foreign investors and foriegn board members. One could then trace the funding of the ethical oil promoters back to these companies. In any case, the attempt to position the bitumen sands (to choose a technically correct and more neutral term than oil sands or tar sands) as somehow ethical is fascinating. Ethical compare to what? The political regimes in other oil producing countries is the trick being played. But shouldn't the comparison be with other energy sources? Are the ethical oil supporters willing to extend this model to other areas? Should we be selling natural resources to countries that are not ethical by their defnition? Should we be buying from them? If Canada is willing to go down this path there are a lot of trading relationships that need to be evaluated.

Steven, while I don't

Steven, while I don't necessariily agree with the bulk of you statement, thank-you for recognizing the challenges of the oil/tar/bituminous sands naming. Believe it or not, most oil/tar/bit sands companies nowadays don't care what it is called.

Your challenge for the comparison to other energy sources is fair. Can you realisitically compare oil (of any source) to another energy source for transportation fuels? The world, while moving to alternative sources of energy, will still be highly dependant on petroleum as a transporation fuel for a significant amount of time. Hybrids are nice for celebrities to drive around California, but we aren't there yet for hauling the product required to keep North America living. I'm not aware of any alternative for flying.

Deathical Oil


The Harper Seals all clap their paws together, arf arf! let's make ever so much money!

Too bad that the only trickle-down is via the Athabasca river, oh dear so many dead things along the banks, eh