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The Pew funds Canada: Canadian Boreal Initiative

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

The Pew funds Canada:

Canadian Boreal Initiative

from "Offsetting Resistance: The effects of foundation funding from the Great Bear Rainforest to the Athabasca River", a special report by Dru Oja Jay and Macdonald Stainsby. Released September, 2009.

The Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) is funded by grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts. The CBI is a project of Ducks Unlimited Canada, which receives money directly from oil companies and other industrial operators.

Land-use planner Petr Cizek notes that the CBI has evolved quickly in a few years.

“At one point they were calling themselves the Canadian Boreal Trust. They hired a person named Cathy Wilkinson–who is a former federal climate negotiator involved in the Kyoto negotiations–to set up this Canadian Boreal Initiative.”

“The first whack of cash– about $1.7 million– were provided to Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the World Wildlife Fund in 1999.” This began, Cizek explains, the new client-funder role they have been playing ever since.

“All the money goes through Ducks Unlimited. All the money goes to Tennessee first [The DU-USA head office], and then it goes to Winnipeg,” to the Ducks Unlimited Canada head office. “CBI doesn’t exist as an organization– it’s not registered as anything, it’s not a non-profit, it’s not a charitable organization– it’s not a legal entity.”

While CBI is officially funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the actual organization that it is a part of is Ducks Unlimited Canada. Ducks Unlimited has accepted millions of dollars in contributions from extraction companies like Syncrude, Suncor, Al-Pac, and related industrial operators like Enbridge, CN and Inland Cement. It is impossible to know whether this money makes its way to CBI (and thus to countless ENGOs, First Nations and others who are fighting these same corporations), because all the money goes to the same organization.

Cizek challenges the fact that CBI lists their own employees as deceptive.

“All these people who are allegedly staffers are all on contract, they are basically consultants and their paycheques come from Ducks Unlimited. If you get a grant from the CBI, the cheque will come from Ducks Unlimited.”

Cizek calls attention to CBI’s connections to US oil company Sunoco via its funders, the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“So we know that Sunoco currently refines tar sands oil. And they are about to do more refining. So, on one hand these people are running the Pew Charitable Trusts and their front groups the International Boreal Conservation Campaign out of Seattle and the Canadian Boreal Initiative out of Ottawa that claims to be concerned about the tar sands but won’t go out and actually use the word moratorium.”

“The outcome is this: The Modus operandi of the Pew or for that matter these other large or gigantic multi-billion dollar foundations in the United States is to fund mainstream large environmental organizations which generally have no members, but are private non-profit charities–that are basically non-democratic. Well, not accountable to any members in any case. They are accountable to their board which is a private, self-creating board. So based on past experience, the idea is to bring about very moderate reforms through the “low-hanging fruit” strategy, through closed door negotiations.”

In a 2007 interview with the Dominion, Larry Innes explained, with some candor: “We’re accountable to those people who write us a cheque every year. If we don’t achieve the kind of goals that they’re interested in spending their money on, the funding stops.”


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Macdonald (Macdonald Stainsby)
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