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The Collaborative Model Takes Root in Alberta’s Tar Sands

Pictured above (May, 2015) is Tzeporah Berman (first row, third from right). Berman is one of many who contributed to the text of the “Leap Manifesto”, an initiative founded by Naomi Klein‘s “This Changes Everything” project. It is critical to note the almost non-existence of non-anglos in positions of power and decision making (with the exception being photo ops) within the foundation financed “movements”. This institutionalized racism has become so normalized that it goes almost unnoticed unless it is pointed out (as in this instance). The one exception is the only group of people that the state still fears – that of Indigenous peoples. The undermining of Indigenous people by the non-profit industrial complex (350.org, etc.) is well documented. The 2009 COP15 and the 2010 People’s Agreement in Cochabamba, Bolivia, are just two examples of Indigenous undermining, so egregious, that they could easily be considered crimes against humanity.

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A friend sent me an email note two days ago, with the intro line “The NGO’s finally did it!” which caused a moment of terrorized confusion. I didn’t realize it would relate to this, but for the first time ever last November, the province of Alberta has instituted a potential cap on tar sands development. However, this is not the achievement my colleague was referencing. It was more a statement of alarm than laudatory glee.

The cap was alongside several other notable achievements, such as a fairly rapid phasing out of coal (that currently supplies the bulk of the electrical grid across the province) and several economic measures, such as a carbon tax that scares the Ezras right out of your average Levant. All of these things and more were rushed and cobbled together in the short time since Notley took office. Timing was clearly a factor in order to take these proposals to Paris as a triumphal delegation to the UN Climate talks. In the short term, many of these things may seem very hopeful. But it has also been leaked that there was another part of how the tar sands portions of the plan were drawn up.

There were secret talks that involved some of the perhaps expected Big Green players (ForestEthics, Environmental Defense, Equiterre and the Pembina Institute) meeting with Big Oil. The reason it was leaked? Some oil companies are upset that the other oil companies negotiated without them. Small world, I guess.

Wait a minute, everybody.

Are we not noticing something far more troubling than previous backroom negotiated deals? This time around the deal was not to be public at all. Ever. It stands to good reason that since this one was not to be released specifically, perhaps there are others as well.

The corporations involved are among the biggest players in all of the tar sands: Suncor, Cenovus, CNRL and Shell Canada. Suncor is the largest Canadian energy company and has been a major backer of (among other green groups) the Pembina Institute for many years. Shell, always trying to play the greenwash game, has been targeted by Greenpeace direct actions in the past, yet collaborates with the WWF elsewhere, and hired James Hoggan as a consultant, despite (or rather, because of) his leading role with the David Suzuki Foundation.

As far as those groups and individuals who were previously embarrassed by leaks over potential tar sands “fireside chats” and politically eviscerated over concerns about the now-defunct Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement announcement, rather than learn a lesson to not engage in backroom talks they have instead learned to not tell the public at all.

The Alberta NDP, in a slight twist to the usual narrative, claimed the bulk of the credit (“the win”) at the presser– but the Orange Crush still had no fizzle and were a non-entity on the margins of Alberta’s political landscape when the bulk of these discussions took place.

The head of Shell Canada, president Lorraine Mitchelmore, sheds some serious light on how these talks happened, both in what she says and in what she clearly does not: Interviewed in Macleans (Canada) Magazine, she was asked by Jason Markusoff:

Q: It’s been reported that this work started quite a while ago, with dinners between environmentalists and energy executives. Who was there?

A: I don’t want to say who was there. I want to say that it was some members of industry, and it was some members of the environmental groups, and it was really progressive members in both camps […]

Even after the public realization that the “change in narrative” has been a backroom exercise, she dutifully plays well with others in the corporate sandbox and maintains the Greens anonymity (as best she can), but she does let us realize Big Oil and Big Green began these talks multiple years ago, as “[t]his was happening long before Keystone, so [she] wouldn’t put Keystone as the catalyst for this,” but it has the effect of reducing grassroots activist visibility– and that, too, is the point. When asked what would have happened without this deal?

“Continued conflict. It was going nowhere. What was it going to achieve for Canada, continued conflict? I think that us being on the stage was something that was symbolic for Canadians. I believe that collaboration is something that Canadians do well.”

Leaving aside how “Canadian” it is, collaboration agreements are an expanding, growing industry that is learning from past mistakes. Without collaborative models, there would indeed be far more resistance (“conflict”), more visible community led actions, and a primacy placed on grassroots organizing.

So we now know the lessons learned for energy corporations and for Big Green are essentially the same when it comes to pointed questions about said discussions, fireside beer chats and long table dinners between well-paid foundation-directed environmentalists and oil company executives.

Tired of the backlash from anti-democratic deals being announced? Stop announcing them, but simply cut them in a way that makes the funders happy and let someone else announce an entirely separate result.

Then, allies from other eNGO’s (often people who have worked for ostensibly conflicting organizations) can celebrate what was negotiated secretly without even truly allowing the public to know that negotiations happened in the first place. Big Oil is very good already at guarding market secrets, discussions with Big Green can simply fall under the trade secrets mentality.

There is a history to this new approach, a minor victory of sorts in fact. In April of 2010, Dru Oja Jay was the first to report on attempts to hold private talks with tar sands producers in the Dominion:

Ten representatives each from tar sands operators and high-profile environmental groups were invited to the “informal, beer in hand” gathering. The David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence Canada, Forest Ethics, Pollution Probe and Tides Canada were among the invited environmental groups.

Merran Smith of ForestEthics was listed without affiliation, as was Tzeporah Berman, who worked to privatize BC’s rivers as director of PowerUp Canada, and who is slated to start work this month as Greenpeace International’s Climate Campaigner. Among invited oil companies were Shell, ConocoPhilips, Total and Statoil. Leading tar sands investor Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) was also on the guestlist.

The event would be, the invitation explained, “an opportunity for a few ENGOs and a few companies to share their thoughts on the current state of relations and explore ideas on how a deeper dialogue might occur.”

Three days later, Raynolds sent a second email, cancelling the gathering, owing to “the level of tension” between “a subset of companies and a subset of ENGOs.” The follow-up email specified a legal dispute. Sources in Albertan environmental circles suggested pressure to cancel came from threats to expose the meeting publicly. (emphasis added–MS)

“I personally believe we all need to find a way to create the space and conditions necessary for deeper and meaningful conversations to find some solutions,” wrote Raynolds, explaining the cancellation. “I do hope that in the coming months, we can work to create those conditions.”

…and create those conditions they did. In light of that prior result of such talks, it goes to further reason that these discussions have shown in part the expanding of the relationship in 2015 that began in 2010. Faced with the rejection and unpopularity of anti-democratic secret negotiations when announced, further secrecy was layered upon secret talks by these organizations. Sources from environmental struggles today allege a role played directly by Greenpeace in assessing these deals, to get a “victory” in Alberta.

We essentially now have reason to believe that modern capital-driven organizations will make concessions on issues as large as pipelines and caps and more without even telling the public that there was a process they were not involved in. ENGO’s acting with a distrust of the public that rivals the Harper administration.

ForestEthics itself began almost entirely as a vehicle to carve out such a collaborative agreement and lay the framework for this model in the Great Bear Rainforest of BC (accepting far less protection than grassroots groups and independent scientists wanted, shunting aside indigenous nations in the process and eliminating democratic oversight all in one fell swoop). One of the other signatories to the GBR deal and also apparently a non-signatory observer to the new tar sands deal was Greenpeace. The organization still has an official position calling for the “phasing out” of the tar sands and as such cannot publicly be seen to pledge no resistance to export (or any) pipelines, but in the days following the Alberta climate plan?

Mike Hudema of Greenpeace was talking up the plan thusly:

This announcement is a major victory for people and communities that have long raised concerns about growing tar sands emissions. With the announced cap the government has finally set a limit on tar sands extraction. The days of the infinite growth of the tar sands are over and investors should take note.

So what part of the deal are investors told to take note of, exactly? Well, we do know some of the points. Total tar sands development can add more than another one million barrels per day of tar sands gunk to the grid. Put in perspective, tar sands were pumping at around 1.2 million barrels a day before Greenpeace parachuted into Alberta in mid 2007.

Slightly less than 2 million barrels are extracted from the various deposits of bitumen in Alberta today, meaning that in the last 8 years– 8 years of development with:

*Massive economic backing, some of the largest investments in human history all pulled together

*Federal and Provincial governments that facilitated every single project that came forward

*Record high global prices of crude, alongside one of the strongest Canadian dollars in history

*The global attention of nearly every major energy company from China to the Middle East to the UK

*In these 8 years Tar sands projects– mining and in-situ– added some 3/4 of a million barrels (roughly the equivalent of three of the giant mines at full operating capacity) to the global grid.

Since that time of the tar sands gold rush we have seen:

Peak in oil prices brought down by financial collapse spreading around the globe and Saudi Arabian oil reserve dumps

Massive development of other technologies such as fracking to take alternative investment dollars,

The removal of the most outwardly pro-oil governments at all major levels in North America,

The gutting of the loonie.

At the current rate of expansion, and the current level of resistance to further sprawl based on tar sands, the idea of getting to 3 million barrels a day would need major subsidization to make it even partially practical. It is not, and in a reminiscence of the Protected Areas Strategy in the Arctic North, what is announced to be a limit is actually a promise to investors to make things economical and operate business as usual for possibly another pair of decades.

While it is certainly of the best news that the Notley plan also includes the removal of coal fired electrical generation across Alberta, this combined with further de facto unbridled expansion of the tar sands themselves will mean two giant changes to the physical landscape are set to come about:

One: There will now be a massive introduction planned of nuclear energy. Even with the reports of the ongoing melting of Japan into the sea (Fukushima is still destroying the largest ocean on earth, we just stopped paying attention to it as it is happening) multiple nuclear reactors discussed during the first tar sands boom times of 2002-2008 will be revisited and pushed. Just ask James Hansen, a brilliant scientist who is being asked to be a sociologist when it comes to solving the climate crisis. His take is the same as Big Green: Never mention powering down or reducing consumption, that is a non-starter for “modern” capitalist Canada.

Two: this is a spectacular means to allow BC to expand the growing fracking footprint that is in the Northeast of the province, for shipment to Alberta as a “cleaner” source of the power needed to build up tar sands operations. And to produce the fracking gas means that the giant Site C dam on BC’s Peace River will provide the energy to frack to provide the energy to mine for tar sands.

Perhaps the key point is that this will mean a better situation for the investors than exists currently. Their DNA is still made up of seeing any regulation as a restriction on profit, but they have been granted at least another decade of developments at the rate of acceleration we have been accustomed to over the last several years. The Athabasca river and the forested areas of all four major tar sands regions in Alberta will continue to get poisoned or disappeared outright.

The tar sands free for all will continue but with the caveat that many will think it is now regulated. But the earth knows no law but natural law and climate markers know no future endeavour announcements. There is no savings account for the climate.

The collaborative model of developers (corporations), “stakeholders” (in particular First Nations governments subject to the Indian Act), “environmentalists” (NGO’s who receive foundation-directed money to achieve funder-driven objectives) and governments (provincial and federal) has been in place in Canada for a couple of decades now. In point of historical fact the birth of ForestEthics essentially took place to create a situation that has since become almost a template for social control and political license given to developments that prior to the agreements were unpalatable and unpopular in the extreme.

While sidelining indigenous representation either in whole or in part, such collaborative models gain little and surrender the kitchen sink. More importantly than their horrible ecological impacts, however, are the wholesale anti-democratic means of coming into being, and their quite conscious role in subverting, blunting and silencing resistance that exists. The President of Shell just announced that was why she was involved– like a linesman at a hockey game, just trying to contain conflict.

There have been many watershed moments on the advancement of the collaborative model in the past, starting in the 1980’s in the US (heavily funded by the Pew Foundation and later, Pew Charitable Trusts, et al) and advancing to cover not only BC, Alberta and many Canadian provinces, but the Arctic as well setting up similar collaborative models to effectively give away the mostly undeveloped giant lands of what get called the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.

Perhaps most disastrously, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement was celebrated by 9 pro-development eNGO’s alongside multiple forestry companies, but was denounced as anti-democratic and an attack on sovereignty by most indigenous voices. It ultimately failed under its own weight.

At this late day when environmental discourse should be prominently louder and more uncompromising than ever, now collaboration is moving in to save capitalism from itself. And using silence to do so.

Don’t take my word for it. Ask Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta.

“I’m hopeful that these policies, taken overall, will lead to a new collaborative conversation about Canada’s energy infrastructure on its merits, and to a significant de-escalation of conflict worldwide about the Alberta oilsands…”

Various tar sands pipelines, from Line 9 in Ontario to Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion in greater Vancouver, have seen large grassroots opposition. With either fly-by-night, media grabbing appearances from Big Green with little to no support provided or the most deafening silence possible, people have gone to prison in many cases without seeing any help emerge from Big Green.

The NDP, once elected in Alberta, made achieving their climate deal one of the most important immediate goals. In order to go to Paris for UN COP discussions happening now– standing alongside the Federal Liberals saying “Canada is no longer obstructionist,” having a deal between greens and government as well as energy corporations in international venues is extremely important. For that, even with no tangible difference on the ground, Environmental Defence executive director Tim Gray (based in Toronto) explained their willingness to help: “We were more than happy to help them track toward something that could get support from elements of the environmental community as well as the business community, and that is what happened.”

But what else has happened? Tar sands operations elsewhere around the world must still be prevented from ever getting off of (or out of) the ground as well.

Operations of other tar sands projects around the planet will once again have the great example of “responsible tar sands developments” apparently requested by Notley. Some of the international projects have stalled and been shelved but nowhere have they yet been killed.

The shroud of secrecy around Ottawa has changed, even if that is mostly a public relations exercise that will lose the shine very quickly. Falsely or not, people hold a belief that far less secrecy is the order of the day. But in terms of the unaccountable results of foundation-directed eNGO’s, they have moved into new territory of deception, no longer telling after what used to only be hidden before.

And in this, a perfect refinement of the current administrations of progressiveness, done in time for Paris with Suncor hanging out with Environmental Defense to forge forward a brave new path—in France now are the signs of just what kind of administrations people living north of the 49th parallel on Turtle Island can expect: Of social control through farce, and democratic participation as a mass marketed phenomenon. With all the bells and whistles, but please turn off the lights on your way out.

[Macdonald Stainsby is an anti-tar sands and social justice activist, freelance writer and professional hitchhiker looking for a ride to the better world, currently based in Vancouver, Canada. He can be reached at mstainsby@resist.ca]

Fracking Indigenous Country

new-brunswick-oct-7-rally

Photo: Mi’kmaq – True resistance

Big Green, Sun Media and Elsipogtog

Counterpunch

October 22, 2013

By Macdonald Stainsby

 

If anyone doubted that it’s a good thing that Sun News in Canada has been both going broke and also denied the ability to force their way onto Canada’s basic cable system (vastly expanding their audience and getting themselves included in most homes with television subscriptions by default), the racist rantings of Ezra Levant in response to the recent RCMP attack on the Mi’kmaq community of Elsipogtog ought to clear it up.

Dropping Science: Tzeporah Berman URL-bombed at Vancouver Rally

Vancouver Media Co-op

[Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research]

September 17, 2013

by Crying Wolf

Doing all Greenpeace is good for anymore (guy on the right wasn't *really* in on it)

Doing all Greenpeace is good for anymore (guy on the right wasn’t *really* in on it)

The Tzep The Tzep

 

At the Stand Up for Science Rally in Vancouver yesterday I had to wonder why Tzeporah Berman was speaking. Unless shilling for Campbell’s Lieberal Party and the Stolen Land Olympics is a science, she’s not a scientist. Unless selling out rainforests and their Indigenous and settler defenders alike is a science, she’s not a scientist.

And even though I still have some lingering respect for Dr. Suzuki, and am occasionally cheered by some of the things he has to say about the lunacy of allowing corporations to lead the charge to save the planet they’ve nearly destroyed, I have to wonder how he can allow the foundation that bears his name to take money from “defense” contractors / drone manufacturers, Honeywell and its chair to double dip as a consultant for Royal Dutch Shell (really).

Boreal Forest Agreement With Industry: Not One Hectare Of Forest Has Been Protected In Three Years

Boreal Forest Agreement With Industry: Not One Hectare Of Forest Has Been Protected In Three Years

Canadian-Boreal-Forest-Ag-006

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement” (CBFA) was reached on 18 May 2010. Photograph: Richard Brooks/Greenpeace/EPA.

“Efforts to control corporations’ destructive impacts must have a critique of corporate power at their heart and a will to dismantle corporate power as their goal, otherwise they reinforce rather than challenge power structures, and undermine popular struggles for autonomy, democracy, human rights and environmental sustainability” – Corporate Watch [Britain]

David Suzuki: A Figure of Left-liberalism — At Its Breaking Point

Image by ‘Mad Love’

Overcoming Doom with Dr. David Suzuki

by Andrew Loewen

The Paltry Sapien

June 25, 2012

Canadians love David Suzuki, and rightly so.

The span of Suzuki’s lifework — from biologist to public broadcaster and environmentalist — testifies to a pivotal paradox of our time. Namely, that the emergence of modern environmentalism and expanding environmental consciousness has coincided exactly with the latticework expansion and penetration of industrial capitalism (and the hollowing of democratic mechanisms). So it is that 20 years after his daughter Severn, then age 12, addressed the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, Dr. Suze says such policy conferences are “doomed.” There’s been no progress. In fact, it’s only gotten worse. There can be no more avoiding the issue: humanity needs a whole new economic system.

Interestingly, Suzuki was recently forced to resign from the board of The David Suzuki Foundation, fearing that his outspokenness (his propensity for saying things that are true) would jeopardize the Foundation’s charitable status (what with the Harper Cons’ full-scale war on environmental and social justice organizations).

In this interview with Amy Goodman (video below) following the inevitable fiasco of the Rio+20 Summit (billed as the largest UN conference in history), Suzuki stands as a figure of left-liberalism — or social democracy — at its breaking point. The technocratic market-oriented efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions such as Europe’s carbon trading scheme, sometimes touted by Suzuki and pragmatists of his ilk, have been revealed not as practical ameliorative steps, but terrible scams. And the vacuous but eloquent Harvard men like Barack Obama celebrated by liberal NGO do-gooders, have, of course, sold them down the river. To be blunt: for all the wisdom and rationality of his science, Suzuki’s Third-Wayist politics, like that of the mainstream environmental movement at large, have been an unmitigated failure if truly combating climate change is the benchmark.

Thus we might see in Suzuki’s forced shift from “charitable” to political “status” a long overdue turn in the right (read: left) direction. That is, while a forced play, Suzuki’s resignation is connected to a broader recognition, however painful, that the “practical” liberal  approach of addressing humanity’s challenges by getting all the smartest wonks together at a conference is worse than fantasy — it’s a catastrophe. There are vested interests, the world is riven by relations of power, and the shape of our future will be determined by the relentless and exterminatory logic of commodification. That is, unless more people, like Suzuki, wake up from their liberal dreaming, and get serious.

I could go on about the content of Suzuki’s remarks in this interview, which continue to express the contortions of someone with conventional political assumptions struggling to reckon with the impossibility of marrying capitalism to environmental sustainability. Some of the old euphemisms and evasions persist. Not yet a full apostate, Dr. Suzuki still cannot get his lips to form that lone little word, like YHWH, which liberals dare not say without qualification: capitalism. But a break has been made. At root, says Canada’s most trusted public figure, the problem we face is not corrupt politicians, oil companies, or denialists. It’s an economic system we must break up with. And I commend Suzuki for beginning to say what those on the far left have been saying for generations.

A Tar Sands Partnership Agreement in the Making?

By Macdonald Stainsby
Canadian Dimension
August 1st 2011

 

Campaigns against tar sands production have grown rapidly over the last four years. From the relative obscurity in Alberta to an international lightning rod for people trying to address all manner of concerns from indigenous and community self-determination to peak oil and climate change – criticisms of the largest industrial project in human history have gained a major voice.

The voices are certainly not homogenous, but a large contingent of these voices call for a shut down of tar sands production and a move away from fossil fuels – if not an outright move away from market-led growth of any sort. But, in the language of the environmental elite, what are the “decision makers” preparing to do with all this anti-tar sands resistance?

While there are still small scale, community led victories against certain developments – like the defeat of the recent Prosperity Mine proposal in British Columbia – I contend that mainstream environmentalism has effectively become a means by which corporations (who used to be anathema to environmentalists) now get the social license necessary to operate. There are obvious examples such as the World Wildlife Fund running commercials with Coca-Cola. But the real social management is done out of sight, and involves some of the most important players in the circles of the North American ruling class.

Co-opting Environmentalism

In the United States, major foundations – led at the time by the Sunoco-oil founded and controlled Pew Charitable Trusts – stopped fighting against environmentalism and sought instead to co-opt it and make it a “partner.” This model expanded over the next couple of decades until it slowly began to creep north of the border into Canada. Now this same technique dominates the Canadian enviro landscape as well, in some cases with a new twist. The Canadian Boreal Initiative [CBI] – a champion of “working with industry to find common solutions” – is not even an organization, but receives their money from Ducks Unlimited Canada who receive theirs from Ducks Unlimited in the United States. All of this funding originates with the Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia. The Pew Foundation was started with a multi-billion dollar grant from Sunoco and today their board of directors is more than 50 percent tied to Sunoco, either through the Pew family or executive work with the oil giant. This same Pew gives funding to other well-known policy right-wing hawkish think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

The CBI spearheads something they call “the Boreal Conservation Framework,” a plan to protect at least half the Boreal Forest. Fact: far, far less than half the boreal forest has been developed or is slated for development. This “initiative” partners openly with corporations such as Suncor, Nexen and several leading forestry corporations. The CBI, funded and directed by the Pew, also signs on to their framework the International Boreal Conservation Campaign – another Pew front group in the US. Along with corporate friendly organizations like the WWF, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Nature Conservancy and of course, Ducks Unlimited are a smattering of First Nations governments. Also among their signatories are the Tides Foundation and the Ivey Foundation.

With this behind them, the CBI then “negotiates” what the final deal of a particular industry should look like. Guaranteed at the outset is that corporations will continue operations, and that the general public is out of the loop right up until the moment the “deal” is announced.

Many other foundations – most but not all American – now play the same game of social manipulation in the environmental field. Foundations such as Rockefeller Brothers, Ford and Hewlett have not only entered into the fray in a major way, in the case of the tar sands campaigns, they have collaborated with the Pew to take social manipulation to a new level. The aforementioned Tides Foundation was set up as a sort of clearing house for other philanthropists and foundations, for many years receiving the overwhelming bulk of their money through the Pew. Today, other groups and foundations give them money and earmark where they want it spent. Tides exercises total control over something you are not supposed to hear about: The North American Tar Sands Coalition.

The Tides and the North American Tar Sands Coalition

The routine is fairly straightforward. After a long stretch when grassroots and community led struggles build up support using a multitude of strategies – from direct action blockades to boycott campaigns and speak outs, demonstrations and more – suddenly many of the organizers who started the campaign are shuffled aside. Professionals are either appointed within the ranks or are imported from outside and all are given foundation-led salaries. With or without public knowledge (almost always without) a “stakeholder” negotiation is undertaken between corporations, government and the new “professional” environmentalists will take place. The terms of the negotiations do not reach the public until a smiling photo-op of the “stakeholders” appears at a press conference to announce an “end” to a particular “campaign” now called a “win-win.” Details will vary, but they always include three things: A promise to stop organizing against a particular industry, market-based incentives that would lead to “change practices” and a guarantee for that industry to be allowed to develop, now unhindered. Such a process is slowly being constructed for tar sands production in Canada.

As if on cue, once the multitude of forces against tar sands development began to crack into both national and international media the large foundations appeared in the background. In this particular case, they had set up a spider’s web of control from the getgo. All the usual foundations – Pew Charitable Trusts, Hewlett, Rockefeller Brothers, Ford Foundation – now use the Tides Foundation as a singular source to centralize control over the would be recipients of funding.

By funnelling all money through the Tides Foundation all organizations and movements that approach any of these sources can be directed to only one source – the Tides Foundation and their “North American Tar Sands Coalition.” The NATSC is headed by one Michael Marx. While they also have “Canadian” and “American” campaign leaders, Marx has near total authority to forge the funding decisions, policy directions, media strategy and over-all focus of how the “coalition” will operate. Who then, is Michael Marx?

Marx is known as a “corporate responsibility” campaigner. Previously working with Forest Ethics and now, along side his control over the tar sands campaign, he is a head of Corporate Ethics International. His own personal bio celebrates that he has previously helped “green” Wal-Mart, one of the largest and most labour exploitative corporations in the world. He does not believe that the tar sands can or should be shut down, and is shaping political messaging to that end. The list of ENGO’s that are funded by Michael Marx’s NATSC is long, but to list merely the largest of the Canadian ones that have been with them from the beginning of the “invisible to the outside” coalition: The Pembina Institute, Environmental Defense Canada, ForestEthics, World Wildlife Fund (Canada), The Sierra Club of Canada (and associated regional chapters), Eco Justice and the Canadian Boreal Intiative. Perhaps most important to note is that the coalition also involves Greenpeace Canada – important because historically GPC did not take foundation funding but has now been listed for several grants from Tides Canada for this work.

There are also many regional only organizations – working on regional only campaigns, such as to ostensibly stop the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline across arts of unceded first nations territory in northern British Columbia. These groups involve Living Oceans society, The David Suzuki Foundation, west Coast Environmental Law and the Dogwood Initiative with a host of community led groups. These regional grants are controlled by Canadian understudy to Michael Marx, Jennifer Lash.

Since the highly criticized deal called the “Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement” was signed in 2010 between what was called nine environmental NGOs and 21 forestry companies, Tides has started muttering in public as their own voice – calling for the “bridging of the two camps” of environmentalists and energy companies over the tar sands. No first nations have been mentioned in their pronouncements. Nonetheless, in Europe they have moved in to steer the direction of anti-tar sands campaigning. Marx himself showed up recently in the UK, speaking out on campaigns to “stop tar sands expansion” in ads paid for by Corporate Ethics International. These same ads have appeared in Alberta; Marx himself lives in San Francisco.

Astro-turfing is a term often applied to various Republican or Tea Party ventures in the United States, ones where money and slick marketing are used to build an appearance of a grassroots network where, in fact, none truly exists. While there most certainly is such a grassroots network against the tar sands – and it is expanding globally – the astro-turfing of “demands” to go into the backroom negotiations is tailored to appear genuine. The manner it is done is to put forward a vague and almost completely uncontroversial call and ask people to sign on to some declaration.

As of late that has appeared to be towards the blight of the toxic tailings ponds littering the landscape by the vast open-pit mines. In recent months as well, Suncor (the original tar sands corporation, former property of Sunoco oil and largest energy company in Canada) announced they had developed “dry tailings technology” and that they planned over time to roll out and implement it. Considering that Suncor is openly partnered with the Canadian Boreal Initiative, it seems strangely convenient that the astroturfing campaign is now targeting tailings ponds – shortly after many of the more corporate environmental organizations and the largest players among tar sands operators were caught – trying to have a private, unreported meeting together.

The first attempt at such a meeting, last April, was spearheaded by the Pembina Institute. The Pembina is employed as consultants for Nexen, Suncor, TD Financial and many other industrial corporations and has partnered with the original tar sands giant Suncor Energy since 1982. That meeting was to be a “fireside chat” but it was cancelled when people got wind of it and it appeared first on the mediacoop.ca and later on in the Globe and Mail. Today, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Tides Foundation and others are calling for “dialogue.”

What Would a Tar Sands Partnership Agreement Look Like?

Based on the market trajectory of the Marx-led team, it will involve beyond promises on water and tailings – including carbon offsets, promised investments in “green” energy technology alongside perhaps some announcement on further research into carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Based on all previous deals in Canada and the United States, such a framework could only be announced as the “end to the war over tar sands” – to effectively give social license to tar sands operations permanently. This would then eliminate Tides based on all previous deals in Canada and the United States, such a framework could only be announced as the “end to the war over tar sands” – to effectively give social license to tar sands operations permanently. This would then eliminate Tides based anti-tar sands funding for all organizations in the NATSC. Certain groups such as Greenpeace, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Rainforest Action Network as well as several community initiatives have official positions to end tar sands development. The Pembina Institute, CBI, Tides, David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club, and near the totality of ENGO’s who receive NATSC funding in the United States do not call for the cessation of tar sands development, but mitigation of the “worst” impacts.

The breathtaking pace and size of tar sands development in Canada has not gone unnoticed to other would-be producers; many countries around the planet have deposits of bitumen that would require much the same technology. Those investors have been visiting Canada, learning, and heading elsewhere where bitumen beckons. A partial list of locations that are now threatened with tar sands extraction includes Trinidad and Tobago, The Republic of Congo, Madagascar, the US state of Utah, China, Russia and Jordan. There is also the country that may have even larger deposits than Canada – the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

With the exception of Venezuela, whose production is still but a fraction of Canada’s, none of these countries have gone into commercial production at this point. It will be nearly impossible to stop tar sands developments in Africa, Latin America Asia and elsewhere if all of our collective work in opposition to the development of tar sands is sacrificed to a “partnership deal” that allows for continued tar sands extraction. Corporations like France’s Total in Madagascar could then argue: “If this development is clean and responsible enough for Canada, why not so for Madagascar?” Such a dynamic must be avoided at all costs on many levels, not least of which is the remaining sliver of hope that the worst effects of climate change can be avoided, rather than simply managed or mitigated.

Climate justice organizing is, in part, an attempt to go beyond the counting of C02 emissions and to get to the heart of solutions to the climate crisis – solutions that involve the end of oppression of the communities that bear the brunt of the climate crisis, and do so in ways that respects their self-determination. Addressing the needs of these communities as they speak for the solutions they want cannot be a part of a backroom, anti-democratic model of development pushed forward with money from the very industries trying to eliminate them from history. It will take a global effort to hear and then amplify the voices – from Africa to Asia, and north to south in the Americas. None of these voices can be heard if someone closes a door to hold secret meetings with the financial powers whose assets already scream so loudly – as we edge ever closer to a point of no return.

MacDonald Stainsby is a social justice activist and journalist currently living in Edmonton and is the coordinator of http://oilsandstruth.org.

http://ecosocialismcanada.blogspot.com/2011/08/tar-sands-partnership-agreement-in.html

http://canadiandimension.com/

ENGOs sign over right to criticize, companies continue to log caribou habitat

May 26, 2010

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement Reconsidered

ENGOs sign over right to criticize, companies continue to log caribou habitat

by Dawn Paley

Clearcutting in the boreal forest in Alberta. The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement allows an area the size of Prince Edward Island to be cut in the caribou range, while deferring logging to outside the caribou range an area the size of Toronto. Photo: Dru Oja Jay

VANCOUVER—Last week’s announcement of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) was celebrated by environmental groups as a historic deal that could save a significant amount of sensitive woodland caribou habitat.

An early criticism of the deal was that Indigenous governments and organizations were left out of the creation of the agreement. The public was also left in the dark while the CBFA was negotiated in secret between nine environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and 21 forestry companies.

The 71-page agreement has yet to be released on the CBFA website. The Vancouver Media Co-op obtained a leaked copy shortly after the deal was announced.

Greenpeace and the other ENGOs involved in the agreement have chosen their words carefully. Greenpeace has called the deal an “unprecedented accord…covering more than 72 million hectares of public forests, an area twice the size of Germany.” The agreement includes what the proponents are calling a series of interim measures to protect caribou habitat while various levels of government take action to create protected areas for caribou.

Further investigation reveals that this agreement aims to silence all criticism of logging practices in the boreal forest in return for less than two years of diverting harvesting and road building from 72,205 hectares of woodland caribou habitat into other areas of the boreal forest.

View enlarged version. Map source: Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Annotations and overlays by Petr Cizek and Dru Oja Jay.

The 21 logging companies involved in the deal are grouped together as the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC). Together, FPAC member firms hold tenures for over 72 million hectares of boreal forest, stretching north from the Northwest Territories down through northeastern British Columbia and continuing east all the way to Newfoundland. Included in these tenures are 29,336,953 hectares of caribou range lands, according to the report.

Between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2012, FPAC companies had scheduled to harvest and build roads on 756,666 hectares inside caribou range lands. That means according to existing industry plans, the vast majority of caribou range lands were not slated to be harvested by the spring of 2012, when the current agreement expires.

Far from protecting caribou lands in their entirety, the outcome of the CBFA reduces the FPAC affiliate cut in caribou range lands from 756,666 to 684,461 hectares until spring 2012. This means 72,205 hectares of harvesting and road building will be “deferred” to “areas outside of caribou range.” In other words, there is no change in the amount of harvesting, only in the locations where harvesting takes place.

While the agreement technically “covers” a forest twice the size of Germany, the amount of caribou range that will not be cut before 2012 as a result of the agreement is only slightly larger than the City of Toronto.

The deal still allows 684,461 hectares to be cut in caribou habitat. This, despite the fact that an expert committee of the Canadian Wildlife Service recently recommended that virtually all industrial activity within woodland caribou range be suspended. In agreeing to the CBFA, the nine ENGOs involved are actively supporting the logging of an area larger than the entire province of Prince Edward Island within caribou habitat between now and 2012.

According to section 14.F of the deal, “FPAC members will publicly state that between April 1 2009 and March 31, 2012 there will be no harvesting or road building in approximately 28,651,492 hectares of caribou range in their tenures (or over 97.6 per cent of the caribou habitat in managed forest).”

By reducing the overall number of hectares of caribou range they refer to, logging companies and ENGOs can claim a near total halt on logging in caribou range lands, even though they’ll still log 684,461 hectares, almost 10 times the area they’re claiming to have saved.

Finally, the “three year” deal actually started more than a year ago, on April 1, 2009: industry promises for harvesting deferrals expire April 1, 2012.

But the numbers game is far from the only Orwellian aspect of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement.

Until April 1, 2012, nine ENGOs have signed on to work together with FPAC companies in “developing and advocating for policies and investments that improve the competitiveness of the Canadian forest sector, create a climate of greater investment certainty, while at the same time have a neutral to positive impact on the sector’s ecological performance.”

In addition, these ENGOs have agreed to express a “continuum” of support for FPAC members, ranging from “recognizing that [sic] the leadership represented by the commitment of FPAC Members to develop and implement the CBFA” to “demonstrating support for products from the boreal operations of FPAC members.”

To ensure that the days of Greenpeace dropping banners from Abitibi-Bowater’s HQ are long forgotten, the agreement stipulates that ENGOs will take back whatever bad things they may have said about FPAC member companies in the past.

This mandatory change in tone by environmental groups takes a couple of forms.

According to Section 6.3.D.ii, “Where an FPAC Member demonstrates an impediment to selling forest products to a specific customer from the boreal as a result of past or current advocacy work or communications, ENGOs will communicate with that customer to confirm they are receiving all joint communications related to progress in implementing the CFBA and that this should be taken into consideration in making procurement decisions.”

The agreement also stipulates that ENGOs will “review and update” their websites to “remove or update any information superseded by the CFBA.” For example, should Canfor find a photo or story about their activities in the boreal forest on the Forest Ethics website objectionable, “immediate steps will be taken to revise that material.”

The agreement also means that if an environmental group which is not a signatory of the deal should happen to tell someone from, say, the David Suzuki Foundation about plans to denounce one of the companies involved in the CBFA, the person from the Suzuki Foundation must warn FPAC member companies immediately.

ENGOs and FPAC will then jointly plan how to respond, which includes actively working together to “have such a third party appropriately modify its position and/or public statements.” This legalese means that the ENGOs and FPAC might jointly threaten to sue or sue the third party. In the past, industry has undertaken such SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) suits, but it is precedent-setting that ENGOs have now become willing participants in striking down criticism of forest practices across Canada.

In return for swapping 72,205 hectares of harvesting out of the boreal forest and maintaining “voluntary deferrals” for another two years, the CBFA transforms the nine ENGOs involved into a promotional service, protection racket and intelligence gathering service for twenty one companies that are actively logging woodland caribou habitat within the boreal forest.

Dawn Paley is a Vancouver-based journalist and a member of the Vancouver Media Co-op.

Claims vs. Actual Protection: Land mass comparisons:

Click to enlarge:

Click to enlarge

Signatories to the CBFA:

Environmental Non-governmental Organizations:

Canadian Boreal Initiative
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
Canopy
David Suzuki Foundation
ForestEthics
Greenpeace
The Nature Conservancy
Pew Environment Group
International Boreal Conservation Campaign
Ivey Foundation

Logging companies (grouped together as the Forest Products Association of Canada):

AbitibiBowater Inc.
Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.
AV Group
Canfor Corporation
Canfor Pulp Limited Partnership
Cariboo Pulp & Paper Company
Cascades inc.
Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.
F.F. Soucy Inc.
Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Limited Partnership
Kruger Inc.
Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd.
Mercer International
Mill & Timber Products Ltd.
NewPage Corporation
Papier Masson Ltée
SFK Pâte
Tembec
Tolko Industries Ltd.
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited

http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/3450

LEAKED DOCUMENT: Greenpeace, ENGO’s, Foundations cutting secret deals, greenwashing all forestry

Read the leaked document here:

http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/sites/mediacoop.ca/files2/mc/CBF_leak.pdf

Greenpeace, ENGO’s, Foundations cutting secret deals, greenwashing all forestry

The key quote in this article is here:

A spokesperson for Greenpeace said: “There is no agreement, but we will let you know when there is an agreement.”

MS: Who gave them such authority? How on earth can they claim that the public– or even their own sustainers– gave them such a mandate? How can this possibly be a positive bent, when it essentially has the PR gain for industry of being “green” right when we should be ramping UP the fight against what is happening to our forests?

Does anyone have a shred of an idea as to what democracy is? Will those in Greenpeace who oppose this kind of backroom deal, greenwashing garbage actually stand for what is right?

We need help from GP activists and employees to stop this nonsense, and we need it NOW. Stand up and be counted, those of you with a conscience! We need you! The forests need you!

–M

http://oilsandstruth.org/greenpeace-engo039s-foundations-cutting-secret-deals-greenwashing-all-forestry

Canada’s Boreal Forest Conflicts Far From Over

Mainstream enviros, timber industry shut First Nations out of “historic” deal

http://climatevoices.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/boreal-forest-conflicts-far-from-over/

Tree-huggers and loggers bury hatchet

will manage woods together Canadian forest products can bask in glow of new-found eco-approval

By CASSIDY OLIVIER, Canwest News Service
May 14, 2010

A truce appears to be at hand in the long-running war in the woods.

Canada’s largest forest firms and most outspoken environmental groups are in the final stages of a precedent-setting deal to co-operatively manage a massive swath of boreal forest that has sections in Quebec, Alberta and, to a lesser extent, British Columbia.

The initial three-year deal will effectively freeze all logging in selected regions in exchange for a halt to international marketing campaigns against Canadian products by environmental groups such as Greenpeace.

Environmentalists also would give their green stamp of approval to Canada’s logging practices.

The land in question is an estimated 70 million hectares of boreal forest.

The land mass equals the total amount of forest lost globally between 1990 and 2005.

Sources close to the landmark talks say the Forest Products Association of Canada, whose members are responsible for 66 per cent of certified forest lands in the country, are in negotiations with senior members of environmental groups with the aim of reaching a deal by the end of the month.

Association members include Cariboo Pulp & Paper Company, Tolko Industries Ltd., Weyerhaeuser, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Ltd. Partnership, and Kruger Inc.

Canwest News Service has learned a draft agreement is expected to be voted on today, the result of which is expected to set a blueprint for a green revolution in the country.

If passed, the deal would effectively bring to an end the battles in forests that have raged in parts of the country since the late 1980s.

It also could boost the attractiveness of Canadian products on the global market, as they bask in the glow of new-found eco-approval.

Sources said logging companies will stay out of the protected areas in exchange for environmental groups embracing logging practices in other areas.

The environmental groups also will gain access to caribou habitat for study as part of the deal, which will include large sections of forest in Alberta and Quebec, sources said.

The Forest Products Association of Canada declined to offer details of the pending deal other than to confirm talks were under way.

“There are currently talks under way related to numerous complex areas of mutual interest between forest-industry companies and a number of environmental non-governmental organizations,” the association said in a statement.

“We hope to have a joint statement in this regard within the next two weeks.”

Bruce Lourie, president of the Ivey Foundation, a Toronto-based charitable foundation that offers funding to conservation groups, said he was unable to discuss details of the talks.

He did, however, confirm conversations were under way. “We are really not supposed to be talking about it in any detail,” he said. “If all goes well, it will be a positive outcome for forest conservation.”

A spokesperson for Greenpeace said: “There is no agreement, but we will let you know when there is an agreement.”
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

http://oilsandstruth.org/greenpeace-engo039s-foundations-cutting-secret-deals-greenwashing-all-forestry

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