Vivian Krause and the BC Liberal Boogeymen!

Vivian Krause has penned yet another U.S. Environmental Foundations unduly influencing Canadian politics piece in the National Post. Once again, I find it a lot of heat and no fire. The essence is in the opening paragraph:

On Feb. 26, members of the B.C. Liberal party will choose a new leader who will immediately become the provincial premier, replacing Gordon Campbell. But who will those Liberal members be? The party’s membership has recently tripled, from 30,000 to 90,000, in part due to a major questionable campaign by environmental activists to stack the membership and shape the leadership choice.

There are 3 possible angles to this:

A. Is it illegal?
B. Is it unethical?
C. Is it bad political strategy?

Krause doesn’t allege A. She does allege B. on her usual grounds that this is an example of the United States, via green-washing, is influencing Canadian politics in a way we are to assume is against the wishes of Canadians and is thus ipso facto unethical. In support she cites stalwart of the left-wing Murray Dobbin:

“It is essentially political fraud,” wrote Mr. Dobbin recently…According to Mr. Dobbin, “that progressive groups would do this is truly disgusting” and a betrayal of the “highest possible ethical standards. What on earth were these groups thinking?”

I’m sure you will be surprised that this misrepresents Dobbin’s argument. Dobbin does strenuously object on ethical grounds – but not that it undermines the political system. Rather that it is a betrayal of environmentalist values. Let’s give the full quote:

It is essentially political fraud: joining a party whose values, policies and record are all profoundly reactionary, mean-spirited and representing in total the worst government the province has ever had. How could a progressive individual possibly consider putting their name to an application form of a party they totally disagree with? And give them money to boot.

The second part, the What on earth were these groups thinking? part relates more with C:

That progressive groups would do this is truly disgusting as it sets a precedent for any group to do the same thing. Right wing organizations have much greater resources and therefore much greater ability to organize such actions. Will the legion of well-funded groups that support the corporate Liberal Party (chambers of commerce, industry associations, the Fraser Institute, the Taxpayers’ Federation, anti-abortion groups, etc. now adopt this bright idea and get their members to join the NDP to vote for the most right-wing (or the weakest) candidate to make it easier for the Liberals to win?

Of course, read the whole thing. Bill Tieleman also has a post objecting to this stratagem by the 5 environmental groups, but on strategy grounds.

So, just how big a deal is this?

The Dogwood Initiative has 70,000 members in its “No Tankers” campaign. It wants those members to join the Liberal party to vote for a new leader who will “support a federal legislated tanker ban on BC’s north coast,” says Eric Swanson, the executive director of the Dogwood Initiative.

Golly. As we know BC Liberal memberships jumped from 30,000 to 90,000…so…the Dogwood Initiative must have gotten 60,000 of it’s members to join! Sadly, no. In the comments on Tieleman’s post, the Dogwood Initiative’s Ken Hardie claims only 1000 Dogwood Initative members joined the BC Liberals. That’s 1% of the new membership, and a speck in terms of influence in the Liberal leadership race. As Tieleman points out, it’s a bitter harvest:

But regardless of your analysis, today it backfired badly as a leading BC Liberal candidate came out strongly in favour of proceeding with the controversial Prosperity Mine in northern BC – a project even the federal Stephen Harper Conservative government rejected in an environmental assessment as too damaging to allow.

Maybe the other 4 groups made up the rest of the 99%, but I doubt it. And you certainly won’t find out from Krause.

Then there is Krause’s shell game of alleged monies from U.S. Foundations to Canadian Foundations to Canadian politics. To whit:

OC is a project of Tides Canada…


…a U.S.-funded charitable foundation

And country of origin for donations that are also a substantial if not majority part of Tides Canada operating budget: Canada!

Since 2003, Wilburforce has paid Tides USA a total of $329,000, specifically designated to support Tides Canada’s Operation for Change project, or its predecessor, the Environmental Resource Centre.

Has it? While it appears Wilburforce doesn’t publish an Annual Report (diabolical!) it does have it’s list of grants online. Let’s take Krause’s word for it. And…

At its own website, Wilburforce doesn’t say that OC aims to sway the political process in a foreign country — which is against the rules. Wilburforce says that this project is “to support and promote collaboration among environmental organizations.”

It does. Here. It also says the amount is $30,000 for 2010.

So? You see Krause, by citing grants made back to 2003, is trying to make the amount seem larger to make an action taken in 2011 look more sinister. Did the money used to generate an email to send to the membership lists of 5 environmental groups for a hare-brained scheme originate from Wilburforce? Dunno. Did any money from state-owned Sinopec make it in to the donation to the BC Liberal Party from the Northern Gateway Pipeline consortium? Dunno.

I do wonder why Vivian Krause has never shown interest in the latter, though.

I also wonder why Elections BC has never shown much interest in the Krause missives. Probably because a non-coersive email written by Canadians urging Canadian citizens to join a Canadian political party with their full knowledge and consent (something which can’t be said of other recent BC Liberal Party members) is something that probably wouldn’t appear on their radar, even if – and it’s an “if” – the mousepad was paid for from a grant that came from a friend of Bill Gates.

Perhaps I’m wrong though. Perhaps this will be the turning of the tide and Canada will soon be free of the philanthropical menace.