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"Why polar bears and not elephants?" and more from Canada's hyperbolic Tory senators

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Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Conservative): Canadians are rightfully concerned that an oil spill similar to the Exxon Valdez oil disaster could devastate the BC coast for years to come. They are every bit as Canadian as you or I, but their billionaire funders are not. U.S. billionaires and their billion-dollar charitable foundations are fighting the oil companies on Canadian soil.

As Ethical Oil spokesperson Kathryn Marshall stated:

“Letting foreign money buy its way into our regulatory processes is wrong. It opens doors to foreign interests that have no concern for our jobs and our economy. When a foreign-funded, anti-pipeline activist admits, as Eric Swanson of the Dogwood Initiative did on CTV, that "if I got duffel bags of money delivered from Martians from outer space, I would still take that money," Canadians should take him at his word.”

Let me ask you this, honourable senators: If environmentalists are willing to accept money from Martians, where would they draw the line on where they receive money from? Would they take money from al Qaeda, the Hamas or the Taliban? Who is really making the decisions in Canada if we allow foreign money to lobby against what should be Canadian-made decisions?

Hon. Percy Mockler (Conservative): It is important to draw Canadians' attention to the mean-spiritedness of some charitable organizations, organizations that are beyond the reach of the Canada Revenue Agency Act. Honourable senators, such practices should not be tolerated. Revenue Canada should immediately reassure Canadians about these practices, which I would call Machiavellian. These practices must be brought out into the open.

…We have in North America some foundations that have had an impact on the quality of life of Canadians. Some foundations that have done so I will label as "good foundations." We can look at these foundations and see they have actually helped move the vision of North America, let alone globally.

One of these great foundations is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I want to share with you that their mission is about health, from HIV/AIDS to malaria, nutrition, polio and vaccine-preventable disease. Thumbs up for that foundation….

… However, I want to bring to your attention some of the qualified bad, not to mention ugly, foundations, namely the David Suzuki Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the Mott Foundation, the Sierra Club Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Ecojustice Canada Bullitt Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Tides Canada. Yes, honourable senators, there is also the Greenpeace International foundation….

…Many groups in Canada receive funds from American foundations to oppose economic development in our own country. That is not acceptable.

An Hon. Senator: They want our people unemployed.

Senator Mockler: Let us be reminded of the Keystone XL pipeline as another prime example. Even the David Suzuki Foundation, in collaboration with Greenpeace, did its best to confuse and oppose energy projects from coast to coast to coast. We saw them in New Brunswick, we saw them in Nova Scotia, we saw them in Quebec, we saw them in Ontario, and we also saw them in Western Canada.

An Hon. Senator: They want to keep us poor.

Senate Debate – March 29, 2012

Hon. Nancy Ruth (Conservative): I will begin by saying that I support the pipelines.

At the same time, I have three concerns about the inquiry. First, if there is going to be an inquiry into foreign influence on Canada's domestic policy, why is the net being cast so narrowly? Why are charities the only entities being subjected to such scrutiny? Second, what concrete evidence substantiates the claim that foreign foundations have pushed Canadian groups into taking positions that they would not otherwise have taken? Third, why are the existing mechanisms for policing the activities of Canadian charities considered inadequate?

…Canadian NGOs comprise one set — but only one set — of actors involved in the pipeline debate. If the concern is about foreign influence, then why is the inquiry not considering the lobbying efforts of foreign corporations with huge interests in the development of the oil sands and the construction of the pipeline? Why is the inquiry not considering the lobbying efforts of Canadian corporations with foreign investors?

… My second concern is: Where is the evidence? What concrete evidence substantiates the claim that foreign foundations have pushed Canadian groups into taking positions that they would not otherwise have taken?

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