The Conspiracy of Quack

Vivian Krause recycles another column for the National Post. Previously in response to another remarkably similar column I pointed out that Ducks Unlimited seemed to account for 65% of all foreign donations to Canadian environmental organizations. Perhaps Vivian read my missive because she gives Ducks Unlimited extra attention this time round. And corrects me. It’s actually 69%.

Of the $95-million, $65-million (69%) was reported by a single organization: Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). That accounted for 34% of DUC’s total revenue for 2009 and 2010. “The majority of this funding has been used directly for on-the-ground projects for the protection and restoration of wetlands and associated habitats,” Ducks Unlimited said in an email.

It’s indeed a startling revelation to discover Ducks Unlimited puts most of it’s focus on habitats for ducks. But Ah hah, you say, there must be more to the story! There always is! Indeed:

Since 2000, the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts has granted at least US$57-million to Ducks Unlimited USA for the Canadian Boreal Initiative and the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (ICBC).

This is classic Krause bait and switch. We move from one organization – Ducks Unlimited Canada – to donations made to 3 others. Obviously Ducks Canada and Ducks USA are sister organizations. Does Ducks USA financially support Ducks Canada? Not according to it’s annual report. Well, who supports Ducks Canada? Well, shadowy groups like…The Government of Canada, The Government of Alberta,The Government of British Columbia, The Government of Manitoba, The Government of New Brunswick, The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, The Government of the Northwest Territories, The Government of Nova Scotia, The Government of Nunavut, The Government of Ontario, The Government of Prince Edward Island, The Government of Québec, The Government of Saskatchewan, and The Government of Yukon.

Anyone else of note? Why yes, yes there is -> the EnCana Corporation, Suncor, Transcanada and Irving Oil are “Diamond Legacy” Supporters. Husky Energy is a “Platinum” legacy sponsor.

But there’s more right? Yes!

In 2009 alone, Pew granted US$11.2-million for the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC), which has called for a moratorium on new oilsands leases and project approvals.

At this point you might be excused for harbouring the thought “There probably isn’t any financial relationship between the International Boreal Conservation Campaign and Ducks Canada, is there?” to which I respond “You is learnin'”. They are partnered on some initiatives, but cooperating on X doesn’t mean they agree on Y. And the sinister Y, for Vivian Krause is this:

…the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC), which has called for a moratorium on new oilsands leases and project approvals.

Here we have more classic Krause…this is truncated info. The full story:

Implement a moratorium on new tar sands leases and project approvals until long-term mitigation strategies and conservation measures, including those contained in these recommendations, are in place.

So they would be fine with the development of the Tar Sands as long as there are appropriate environmental safeguards. And oh, no U.S. government subisidies for foreign oil producers.

Is the International Boreal Conservation Campaign Canadian or American? It isn’t listed under the Canadian Revenue Agency’s Charity Listings. It’s not listed with the IRS. The contact page on it’s website leaves only phone numbers. 2 are from Washington State. 1 is from Alberta. It looks like it’s not a charity, and is likely American.

Which begs the question why was it mentioned in an article on Canadian charities?

UPDATE: It seems the International Boreal Conservation Campaign also receives funding from the Prince Albert II Foundation. That would be Prince Albert II…of Monaco! What’s his angle? Are we looking at a ploy to place casinos in Canada’s north?

What about the Canadian Boreal Initiative? Other than having “Boreal” in the name, it doesn’t seem to have any financial ties to the International Boreal Conservation Campaign. Who does it have ties to? Well, it’s part of the Boreal Leadership Council. And who is on that? Why…Ducks Unlimited Canada!


Also on the Boreal Leadership Council…Suncor. Oh. Indeed, for some reason Krause doesn’t mention this partnership between the Canadian Boreal Initiative and Suncor…some highlights:

Ducks Unlimited Canada: Suncor and the Suncor Energy Foundation are also working with Ducks Unlimited Canada to develop and provide information on the health and value of wetlands, hydrology and watershed function. The aim is to identify potential impacts that need to be addressed and the best means of doing so.

Caribou: Suncor and ConocoPhillips will invest up to $1.5 million in caribou habitat and population initiatives in the Little Smoky region of west central Alberta. Activities including restoration of old seismic lines and access roads were implemented in 2006; monitoring and research continue. These linear disturbances have enabled increased human encroachment in the area and may make it easier for wolves and other predators to access the caribou.

You mean the grand conspiracy actually seems to be Ducks Unlimited Canada working with some of the Tar Sands biggest oil companies?

Yes, it looks like it.


Krause then moves on to usual targets. It’s quite tedious. However, this is too precious to let pass:

With 251 employees and an annual payroll of $10-million in 2010, Tides Canada is a powerhouse. It has more than twice as many employees as the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute and the Vancouver Foundation combined.

There’s some problems here. First of all is so what? The United Way probably employs more people than Tides Canada, the Fraser Institute and the Vancouver Foundation put together. The second is she seems to have confused payroll with expenses. Tides Canada’s 2010 General Expenses were $10 million. Of those it’s staffing costs  – aka “payroll” – were $2.1 million. Third she neglects to mention, that while it only has 52 staffers, the Fraser Institute’s 2010 expenditures were also $10 million. How much of that is payroll I can’t say – the Fraser Institute is very miserly with the information it makes publicly available. However, I really can’t see its overhead for physical assets like office space being that much. Note to self: The pay is probably better at the Fraser Institute. Of interest: 9% of it’s revenues came from foreign sources.

And if we are going to play the guilt-by-association game, we could mention the Vancouver Foundation is a member of the German-based Transatlantic Community Foundation Network, which is an initiative of the German Bertelsmann Foundation, who hold 77% of Bertelsmann AG.

Who like to invest in privatized education, amongst other neoliberal things.