The Environmental Movement in Alberta
By William Walter Kay
The environmental movement arose not in Alberta nor is it centered there. Albertan environmentalism is a colonial outpost with minimal local support.
Environmentalism is the confluence of several global forces. Firstly, there is the effort by metropoles to undermine hinterland development. From Europe’s perspective, most of the Earth is hinterland. The main North American metropole is the US Northeast. In Canada, the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor suppresses the West and North. Secondly, environmentalism is a campaign by regions poorly endowed with oil and coal to pry humanity away from these economical energy sources. Perpetrating this campaign are the metropoles (Europe, US Northeast, and central Canada). The main victim is the North American Midwest, Alberta in particular. Thirdly, environmentalism is the arch-conservative landed interest’s asphyxiation of economic liberalism, especially its smothering of open markets in land.
Alberta is inhospitable terrain for environmentalism. Alberta’s exports read like an environmentalist’s hit list. Alberta is not just oil country but home to the controversial oilsands: one of the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves. Alberta also possesses some of the planet’s largest deposits of coal and natural gas. Other important sectors of Alberta’s economy are industrial forestry, feedlot beef, and irrigated agriculture. Whereas Germany and Britain have a combined population of 144 million on a combined land base of 600,631 sq km; Alberta has a land base 661,190 sq km and a population of 3.6 million. Several large rivers flow through Alberta and 90% of this water is unused. Over half the province is forest and lake. Two-thirds of Alberta’s land base is government-owned and has never been permanently inhabited by anyone. There is room to grow.
Nevertheless, Alberta is occupied by an environmentalist army. Many features of the environmental movement in Alberta are not unique. In Alberta, as elsewhere, the movement deploys a capillary system of small activist groups commanded by professional non-government organizations. As elsewhere, a veneer of grassroots volunteerism cloaks a movement reliant on paid staff funded by large foundations and big businesses. As everywhere, a key role is played by activist university professors and a lead role is played by the landed interest. As everywhere, the environmental movement in Alberta is embedded into the state; it appropriates state resources and influences state policy.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Alberta's Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs)
Philanthropic Foundations and Albertan Environmentalism
In Land They Trust
Major Corporations and Alberta's Environmentalism
Environmentalism in Alberta's Universities
Environmentalism in Federal Government Operations in Alberta
The Environmental Movement inside the Government of Alberta
Alberta's Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs)
About 300 environmentalist groups are active in Alberta. Many are informal, hence not technically ‘NGOs’. Most have no paid staff. These fringe groups circle around a few dozen well-funded ENGOs that are so united as to appear more like a political party than a social movement.
The exact number of ENGO employees in Alberta is indeterminable. A tally from websites yields the figure 206 but this probably counts fewer than half. The boundary between ENGOs and green businesses is blurred as are the boundaries between ENGOs and academia and ENGOs and government.
ECO Canada ventured a guess as to the size of Canada’s “environmental sector.” (A product of the federal government’s 1990s Sectoral Council Initiative, ECO Canada, is an employment agency for environmentalists.) They estimate there are 530,414 environmental professionals in Canada working in 100,000 environmental organizations. Their “environmental sector” encompasses waste management; land reclamation; health and safety; environmental protection; parks maintenance; plus much activity in agriculture, forestry, and education. They count every garbage truck driver; bottle recycler; and every legal, engineering, and public relations firm doing environmental work. Their “environmental sector” employs 3% of the national workforce. (1) Many organizations ECO Canada counts as “green” are merely business adaptations to a changing regulatory regime brought on by environmental activism. While activists working in ENGOS are merely a subset of the overall environmental sector, they constitute the “social movement proper” – the drivers of the social change – and thus warrant exclusive treatment.
Alberta Environment Network (AEN) has 85 ENGO members. Twenty-nine are located in Edmonton, 10 in Calgary, and the rest in smaller centres. Sixty have websites. Not all Alberta ENGOs have joined AEN. One lure to joining AEN is automatic membership in the 800-ENGO Canadian Environmental Network. AEN also attracts members with conferences and bulletin boards. (2)
A similar unifying function is performed by the Federation of Alberta Naturalists (FAN, a.k.a. Nature Alberta). Each FAN director represents a different naturalist club. FAN claims 42 member clubs with a combined following of 5,000. (3) Few FAN clubs are AEN members. FAN’s five-member staff perform services such as providing websites for small clubs like the Lac la Biche Birding Society. Living by Water Society is run by FAN. (This Society lectures lakeshore property owners on the virtues of “doing nothing” with their property.)
Land Stewardship Centre Canada (LSCC) received funding from Alberta’s Environment Ministry in 2005 to prepare a directory of Alberta’s “watershed stewardship organizations”. LSCC could only assemble a “snapshot in time” because “newgroups are always starting and other groups disbanding.” They also found it difficult to distinguish advocates from stewards. The result was a directory of 125 stewardship groups, 10 aboriginal-stewardship groups, 42 ENGOs, 96 government agencies and 13 industry associations. (The directory was co-produced by the 40-member Alberta Stewardship Network.) (4)
LSCC, a national organization focused on Alberta, was founded in 1996 to develop partnerships among ENGOs, government agencies, native councils, and industry associations. LSCC founders were: Environment Canada, five provincial government entities, Ducks Unlimited Canada, North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, Wildlife Habitat Council, and Al-Pac Forest Products. LSCC is in the Canada Stewardship Communities Network – an informal partnership of watershed stewards and biodiversity activists dating to the 2003 Leading Edge Stewardship Conference in Victoria, which also gave rise to the National Watershed Stewardship Coalition whose contact, Ernie Ewaschuk, authored the Alberta directory. (5)
A major movement centralizer, Alberta Conservation Association (ACA), receives funds from governments and from WWF-Canada and Ducks Unlimited Canada. ACA disburses $10 million a year to conservation projects. ACA’s Grant Eligible Conservation Fund hands out another $1 million a year to habitat projects administered by ENGOs able to tap other funding sources. Since 2002 this Fund has leveraged $50 million. (6) ACA works closely with Alberta Fish and Game Association.
Movement centralization comes from above. In 1990 Environment Canada (EC) established the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (NAWCC) to implement the North America Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP), which welcomes US government funding of Canadian conservation projects. NAWCC’s offices are inside EC’s Edmonton office. The board directing the Alberta branch of NAWMP has reps from provincial and federal government agencies and from Ducks Unlimited Canada and Nature Conservancy Canada. This branch works with local watershed groups and landowners to promote individual acts of conservation and to lobby governments.
There are many lesser movement centralizers. Prairie Conservation Forum is a coalition of 40 ENGOs, farmers’ groups, land management agencies, and academics. The Forum promotes tree planting on private land and initiated the Save the Suffield National Wildlife Area campaign. Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, founded in 1991 by Pembina Institute and Petro-Canada, has spread $5 million in grants over 400 projects. Synergy Alberta is small start-up network of ENGOs, local authorities, and industry reps. Environmental Services Association of Alberta is a business-orientated affair “dedicated to building a strong environmental industry.”
The ubiquitous, opaque Tides Foundation and Tides Canada Foundation are clearing houses for foundations wishing arm’s-length relationships with the unwashed mass of ENGOs. Tides Canada owns assets worth $31 million. In Alberta they fund: Alberta Wilderness Association, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Canadian Wilderness Federation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, Southern Alberta Land Trust, and Western Wilderness Committee. (7)
“Big Green” ENGOs dominate Alberta’s enviro-movement. The world’s most influential ENGO, World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF), is headquartered in Switzerland but maintains outposts in Brussels and Washington, DC. WWF was founded by the British and Dutch royal families and continues to enjoy support from these and other royal houses. WWF-International’s 2008 revenues were $150 million (US$). WWF-Network’s 40 national WWFs had combined revenues of $500 million. WWF claims five million supporters but is financially dependent on about 100 government bureaucracies, multinational corporations, and philanthropic foundations. (8)
On WWF-Canada’s board one finds: Sonja Bata, Donald Sobey, Alexandra Weston, and Right Honourable John Turner. Its executive board consists of officials from major Toronto-based corporations. WWF-Canada’s “over $1,000,000” donors include: Loblaw’s, Coca-Cola, and Moore Foundation. $100,000-to-500,000 donors include: Tides Canada, Tides USA, WWF-Netherlands, Environment Canada, Canada Post, Canadian Wildlife Service, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Ivey Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Oak Foundation, Ontario Power, and four estates. Their current motto is “climate, water, people” (seemingly in order of preference). They played the lead role in passing Ontario’s Green Energy Act. Their Alberta office runs on eco-friendly electricity from Bullfrog Power. (9)
Greenpeace International supervises 28 national Greenpeace orgs each “largely autonomous in carrying out jointly agreed upon strategies within the local context.” Greenpeace Canada is responsible for “seeking the necessary financial support from donors to finance their work.” Lacking the transparency they demand of others, Greenpeace’s budget and funders are unknown. Globally they have 2,400 employees and annual revenues around $200 million. (10) Their presence in Alberta dates to the 1970s.
Ducks Unlimited (DU) was hatched by New York City oligarchs wishing to arrest North American farmland expansion. (Wetlands make great farms.) DU was founded in 1930 by Joseph Knapp Jr. and friends (like J.P. Morgan Jr.). Knapp owned Colliers Publishing Group. His father, also a publisher, was President of Metropolitan Life Insurance.
DU has raised over $3 billion and “conserved” (suppressed the development of) 6.6 million acres in Canada, 4.1 million acres in the USA, and 1.8 million in Mexico. DU’s current $203 million annual income is derived from easement leases (33%), government grants (28%), and private grants (16%). DU claims a US membership of 780,000 and a flat 100,000 in Canada. (11) Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) operations are identical to and overlap those of its parent organization. DUC does its own fundraising as evidenced by its recent launch of the Poole Conservation Fund with a goal of raising $5 million.
Trout Unlimited (TU) was founded in 1959 ostensibly by anglers disdaining the “cookie cutter” trout produced by state hatcheries. They coveted natural trout only unmolested streams could yield. TU has 400 US chapters and annual revenues of $20 million, of which only 12% comes from dues. TU successfully campaigned to remove dams from rivers in Maine and Oregon. TU lawyers are blocking water withdrawals from aquifers in Montana, claiming this water may find its way to trout-bearing streams. TU Chairman is Oakleigh Thorne of New York. Harris Hyman IV of Illinois is Treasurer. (12)
Trout Unlimited Canada’s (TUC) 2008 revenues were $2.4 million. TUC has 22 chapters – seven in Alberta. Most of TUC’s 14 employees work at its Calgary head office. TUC aims to eliminate non-native fish (such as the brook trout) and restore native fish. They oppose urban and agricultural expansion. TUC partners with provincial ministries, university departments, and with Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Stewardship Network, and Alberta Environment Network. (13)
Defenders of Wildlife dates to 1947. Many of their 150 employees work out of their Washington, DC office. 90% of their $30 million annual revenues come from grants and bequests. Many celebrities and big name enviros (Alan Pilkington, E.O. Wilson, Laura Turner Seydel) adorn their board. Their 2009 Annual Report notes, “We have established Canada’s first coordinated program to reduce conflict between ranchers and carnivores.” They claim to have “successfully opposed a move to re-open the grizzly bear hunt in Alberta.” They have an office in Canmore. (14)
“Canada’s leading land conservation organization,” Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) is modelled after the global Nature Conservancy but is independent. Founded by Federation of Ontario Naturalists in 1962, NCC has prospered with patronage from Westons, Pooles et al. A 2005 NCC fundraising blitz raised $200 million. Since 1962, NCC and partners have purchased and roped off two million acres. One of NCC’s seven regional offices is in Alberta where they have partnered with a dozen ENGOs. (15)
One NCC initiative, Natural Areas Conservation Program, has sequestered 256,150 acres. Trans Canada Pipeline (which has a rep on NCC’s board) donated $2.4 million to this program. Said funds levered additional funding from the federal government and US Fish and Wildlife Service – $11 million in total. Half this money will go toward a 1.2 million acre Red Deer River Natural Area. (The Area’s productive soil is “threatened” by human population growth.) Other NCC conquests in Alberta include: OH Ranch (16,000 acres), Sandstone Ranch (4,117 acres), and 13,000 acres near Porcupine Hill. This latter conservancy, valued at $10 million, was the largest private land gift in Alberta history.
Sierra Club Canada (SCC) replicates its massive American namesake but is autonomous. SCC’s board is integrated with Greenpeace Canada and WWF-Canada. SCC’s executive director is a former Greenpeace employee. SCC’s Prairie Chapter employs 12 at an office in Edmonton. (16)
The biggest Alberta-grown ENGO, Pembina Institute, is actually an ENGO cluster of Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development (PI), Pembina Foundation (PF), GAIA Foundation for Earth Education, and Green Learning. This cluster employs 50 people. Founder Rob Macintosh (“the visionary”) rose to fame during the inquiries following the 1982 Lodgepole sour gas blowout. The province spent $2.5 million on these hearings and attendant intervener grants. Macintosh remains active in Pembina and ancillary businesses (Dejanira Enterprises and Green Planet Communications).
PI’s 2008 revenues were $5 million ($2.4 million in grants, $2 million in “fees for services”, and the balance from sponsorships and merchandising). PF’s 2008 revenues were $2.1 million of which $1.7 million came from foundations and corporations. PI and PF receive funds from 16 foundations. Green Learning is funded by Shell Canada et al. “Fees for services” arise from consultation contracts with Oxford Properties, TD Bank, David Suzuki Foundation, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, and government agencies. Consultancy work regarding carbon capture and storage was paid for by Suncor, Enbridge, and EPCOR. Pembina’s main concerns are climate change, oilsands, and environmental education. (17)
Enviro-movement consolidation is aided by the common practice of staff migration between ENGOs. Most of the 12 employees at Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) South Alberta Chapter have over 10 years experience in the ENGO field. A few are former WWF-Canada employees while their conservation planner previously worked for Y2Y. Ecojustice’s Edmonton-based staff lawyer, Karin Buss, is the Environmental Law Centre’s former president. Green Calgary staffer, Heather Hendrie, formerly worked for Alberta Ecotrust Foundation. Co-worker Lynn Robb claims 20 years experience in environmental education and parks management.
Many ENGO staffers are activists in their own right. CPAWS North Chapter’s boreal campaign director, Helene Walsh, founded Albertans for a Wild Chinchaga and is involved with Forest Stewardship Council. Co-worker Kate Charuk ran the Climate Change Caravan and Sierra Youth Coalition. Kate is currently with City Farm Edmonton and Edmonton Community Gardens. Another CPAWS North employee co-founded Parks Watch and Alberta Important Bird Areas Program.
Movement consolidation also results from interlocking directorships. The chairman of Alberta Council for Environmental Education (ACEE) is also with: Ecological Footprint Team, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, and Global Environmental and Outdoor Education Council (GEOEC). (GEOEC, an Alberta Teachers’ Association subsidiary, pushes classroom lessons and kits designed by CPAWS, Pembina Institute, and Inside Education.) ACEE board member, Pat Worthington, is a GEOEC manager. Also on ACEE’s board:
John Kristensen – former assistant deputy minister for Alberta Parks and a member of many boards and committees.
Kathy Worobec – 20 years in environmental education and currently with Green Learning.
Lori Gammel – formerly with Cross Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada and now with Suncor.
Sue Haydek – 18 years ENGO experience, now with Ecological Footprint Team.
Carole Stark – executive director of Chinook Institute for Common Stewardship.
ACEE’s executive director, Gareth Thomson, has 20 years experience in environmental education and formerly worked for CPAWS. He is involved with the Emerald Awards and Alberta Ecotrust Foundation and received a lifetime achievement award from GEOEC.
Inside Education is a key ENGO inside Alberta’s environmental education scene. Their board includes Kathy Worobec (above) and reps from Ducks Unlimited Canada and Canadian Wind Energy Association.
CPAWS South Alberta’s board is chaired by a Suncor executive. Around the table with him are:
J. Kilcolm – 15 years experience in climate change activism and involved in numerous non-profits.
Jill Kirker – involved in many ENGOs and a former grants coordinator for Alberta Ecotrust Foundation.
Land Stewardship Centre Canada director David Westworth (Westworth Associates Environmental Ltd) conducted several environmental studies during his 35-year career as a wildlife biologist. He is a former adviser to the Natural Resources Conservation Board and helped draft Alberta’s Forest Conservation Strategy. Joining Westworth on LSCC’s board are:
Pam Wright – executive director of Edmonton Area Land Trust and a consultant to: WWF, UNEP, Conservation International, and International Ecotourism Strategy.
Jason Unger - a biologist-come-lawyer now employed by Environmental Law Centre.
Edmonton-based Environmental Law Centre (ELC) has made exemplary efforts integrating its board and seven staffers into Alberta’s ENGO community. ELC people sit on the boards of Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, Water Matters, Alberta Water Council, and LSCC. ELC people sit on five Alberta Environmental Network committees and on the Natural Resources Conservation Board policy committee.
On Alberta Ecotrust Foundation’s board sit: Paul Goodman (Encana Environment Fund), Guy Greenaway (executive director of Miistakis Institute of the Rockies), Natalie Odd (Clean Calgary), and J. Pissot (Defenders of Wildlife). Communication manager, Bart Robinson, is executive director of Y2Y. Robinson co-founded Equinox magazine and won a Wilburforce Foundation Award. Both Pissot and Robinson are Yale Forestry alumni.
The movement centralizes through project-specific partnerships. Such combines are not new. Pack animals seldom prey alone.
In 1971 Canadian Arctic Resources Committee (CARC) coalesced to successfully block the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, which would have made Alberta the hub for North American natural gas. CARC’s leaders were from the Canadian Wildlife Federation, Anglican Church, and the federal Liberal Party. During the same years, Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA), CPAWS, WWF, and Sierra Club Canada (SCC) led dozens of ENGOs into a head-on confrontation with gas producers in the Foothills. (18)
In the mid-1980s, Premier Getty’s liberalization of access to public lands triggered years of environmentalist assaults organized by CPAWS, SCC, and AWA, often with local “grassroots” groups strategically placed in front. The 1980s campaign successfully thwarting the Old Man River dam was ostensibly led by Friends of the Old Man River. Unsuccessful, yet of the same model, were 1990s campaigns against the Cheviot coal mine outside Jasper Park and Al-Pac’s pulp mill near Lake Athabasca. In both instances Big Green organized the campaign but kept the local start-ups, Jasper Environmental Association and Friends of Athabasca, in the spotlight. (19)
Alberta Foothills Network is an ongoing alliance of AWA, CPAWS, SCC, Federation of Alberta Naturalists (FAN), and Athabasca Bioregional Society. Network members believe “a moratorium on new industrial development within the endangered forests is required until a network of legislated protected areas is established in the Foothills.” Their “Foothills” is a vast area.
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) is an alliance of 800 American and Canadian ENGOs and foundations working together to convert a 1.3 million sq km area from Yellowstone, Wyoming to the Yukon Territory into wilderness. CPAWS launched Y2Y in 1993. Y2Y’s staff of eight work out of offices in Canmore and Bozeman, Montana. Twenty-one Alberta ENGOs are Y2Yers. Twenty-five foundations fund Y2Y as does the provincial government.
Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition is a 20-year-old alliance of SCC, WWF-Canada, AWA, FAN, and CPAWS. They aim to capture 1,000 sq km of public land north of Waterton Park. They have funding from several foundations and a written blessing from Prince Philip.
Anti-nuclear activism conjured two conjoined coalitions: Grimshaw-based 11-ENGO Coalition for a Nuclear Free Alberta (CNFA) and Calgary-based Citizens Advocating Use of Sustainable Energy (CAUSE). The latter is listed as a member by the former. Intriguingly, CAUSE’s list of CNFA members includes Council of Canadians and Sierra Club whereas CNFA’s list does not. This is an effort to make CNFA appear grassroots. CAUSE quotes Pembina Institute and its website links to the David Suzuki Foundation and Parkland Institute.
The 2009 Green Jobs Report called for reconstituting Alberta’s economy around subsidized residential weatherproofing. This report was co-written by SCC, Greenpeace, and Alberta Federation of Labour’s Environment Committee. Coterminously, three Alberta by Design reports were released to help environmentalists tackle the province’s Land Use Framework. These three reports were written by Pembina Institute, CPAWS, and Water Matters with funding from the Ivey, Gordon, and Bell foundations.
Such efforts pale compared to the Green Budget Coalition. Chaired by Nature Canada (NC), this Coalition of 20 ENGOs (with a combined membership of 500,000) lobbied governments, particularly in Ottawa and Toronto, to impose green subsidies and taxes. (Ottawa-based NC, founded as the Audubon Society of Canada in 1948, has 350 clubs, 40,000 supporters, and annual revenues of $2.5 million.) (20)
Another NC initiative, the 360-ENGO Canadian Nature Network, received $1 million from Environment Canada and Parks Canada. This grant was announced at NC’s 2006 AGM in Red Deer. A gracious NC President assured the assembled, “A stronger Canadian Nature Network means the collective voice of those who defend nature – Canada’s naturalist community – will be heard by those who hold political power.” NC used the money to hire more regional coordinators. (21)
NC was a leader in the “Say No to Drilling in Suffield” campaign. (Suffield Armed Forces Base was an artillery and tank training ground for 60 years. When the base downsized, Encana proposed drilling 1,300 gas wells on the site. Environmentalists pressured the federal government to deny permission.)
International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC) is a megaproject bankrolled by heavyweight US green philanthropists: Pew Charitable Trusts, Hewlett Foundation, and Lenfest Foundation. The philanthropists claim:
“Logging, agriculture, mining, oil and gas and hydro-electrical development are rapidly increasing in the Boreal Forest of Canada. Because of this development, forested land in some Boreal areas is being lost at rates similar to those in tropical forests.” (22)
IBCC subsidiary Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) employs a staff of 14 in Ottawa. CBI is an alliance of WWF-Canada, CPAWS, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Pembina Institute and Nature Conservancy Canada. Other ENGOs and foundations are involved. Ivey Foundation gave Ducks Unlimited’s Edmonton office $147,000 to assist CBI. Canadian Nature Network mobilized 60,000 people to speak out in defence of the Boreal.
In May 2010 CBI and Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) inked a deal. Signing on independently were Canopy (formerly Markets Initiative), David Suzuki Foundation, Forest Ethics, Greenpeace, Ivey Foundation, and IBCC. The deal covers 720,000 sq km of forest tenures held by FPAC members. 290,000 sq km will be subject to a logging and road-building ban. The remainder will be subject to a sustainable practice regime policed by ENGOs. The agreement requires Greenpeace, Canopy, and Forest Ethics to end their boycott campaign targeting Canadian forest products. 170,000 sq km of the forests subject to this agreement are in Alberta. (23) Neither federal nor provincial Environment Ministers were consulted prior to the announcement this agreement.
A similar ENGO partnership targets oilsands development. SCC claims:
“...the tar sands is the linchpin climate change issue for Canada.” (24)
“Climate change poses the greatest threat to our living planet. We’re tackling the biggest culprit in Canada – tar sands development and petroleum based transportation – by highlighting investment risk in the tar sands and partnering to demonstrate smarter ways to move people and goods.” (25)
WWF-Canada’s Oil Sands and Water Don’t Mix calls for a halt to additional water withdrawals needed to facilitate oil sands expansion.
Council of Canada’s 2008 AGM in Edmonton resolved to block development of “large swaths of the tar sands, which is destroying the boreal forest and water resources.” The Council, CPAWS, Public Interest Alberta, and Greenpeace placed a full-page anti-oilsands ad in a Regina newspaper (the site of a Premiers’ conference). Council director Dr. John O’Connor, a self-appointed advocate for Fort Chipewyan (near Athabasca), accuses oilsands producers of causing cancer and auto-immune disorders among natives; a claim dismissed by the Alberta Cancer Board and Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons. (26)
Greenpeace Canada’s anti-oilsands campaign began in July 2007 with acts of trespass, mischief, and sabotage. Their goons hung banners at high-visibility places and even disrupted a fund-raising dinner of the Alberta PC Party. Greenpeace Canada attended the AGM of Norway’s Statoil to pressure the company into disinvesting from the oilsands. Accompanying Greenpeace was Dr. John O’Connor. Coterminously, Greenpeace goons desecrated a Norwegian flag at a public rally in Calgary.
Other alliances include Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society – a collaboration of ENGOs and agencies devoted to restricting development of river banks. Canadian Water Resource Association has an Alberta branch dedicated to partnering with local stewardship groups. Green Calgary grew out of the national 1980s Green Communities Initiative that spawned 40 ENGOs. A ten-ENGO partnership campaigns to save Alberta grizzlies.
Every ENGO boasts numerous allies within the ENGO community. Moreover, every ENGO views forming such alliances to be part of their mandate. Alberta Native Plant Council works with Plant Watch Alberta, Alberta Natural Heritage Information Centre, Alberta Invasive Plants Council, and Alberta Centre for Boreal Studies. Canadian Wildlife Federation partners with 20 ENGOs. Nature Calgary partners with the Alberta Stewardship Network, Nature Conservancy Canada, Calgary Sagebrush Project, and Western Sky Land Trust. Western Wilderness Committee, with five offices in western Canada, lists 100 ENGOs and native groups as partners. “Links” sections of Alberta ENGO websites create a round robin of contacts.
Finally, events like the Wild Gala and the Emerald Awards congregate hundreds of Alberta’s professional environmentalists. AGMs of the Federation of Alberta Naturalists, Alberta Environment Network, and Alberta Stewardship Network provide similar fora.
Philanthropic Foundations and Albertan Environmentalism
The Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) was instituted in 1987 to increase collaboration among environmental funders. EGA stresses its 225 members are from around the world but they are nearly all American. A dozen Canadian foundations are members; among them: The Calgary Foundation, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, and Alberta Real Estate Foundation. (27)
EGA does not divulge its full membership, but the usual suspects appear prominently in its structure. A rep from the Moore Foundation is chairperson. A rep from the Hewlett Foundation is treasurer. A partial list of EGA funders is studded with surnames of America’s elite: Duke, Hearst, Heinz, Luce, Disney, etc. There are notably institutional absentees: Pew Charitable Trusts, Ford Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation. However, the Ford Motor Company Fund is involved and the Rockefeller Family Fund helped create the EGA and has a rep sitting as the current board Secretary. America’s ‘Big Green’ foundations, EGA members or otherwise, hand out $1 to $2 billion a year to ENGOs around the world.
EGA is not itself a funding agency. Its small New York office staff organizes retreats and conferences for funders. Although EGA strategizing is private, they have obviously worked out a geographical division of responsibility. As such, only a few Big Green foundations are active in Alberta.
Five persons surnamed Moore sit on the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation board. The Moore Foundation has assets in $4 billion (US$) and an obligation to disburse 5% of this amount every year. Favourite causes are “environmental conservation” and “science”. Over the last decade they gave $250 million to Conservation International and $55 million to WWF chapters.
Moore gave WWF-Canada $1.6 million in 2006 (mostly for work in BC) and $2.1 in 2007 to help Canadian ENGOs promote “area-based management”. Moore gave Pembina Institute $548,296 in 2006 and $462,393 in 2008 for anti-mining activism. They recently gave Ecotrust Canada $384,891 and sent three cheques to David Suzuki totalling $1,051,000. Moore has given Tides Canada millions. (28)
Seattle-based Wilburforce Foundation is obsessed with imposing a string of wilderness corridors across North America to create “ecologically effective landscapes and viable wildlife populations.” Wilburforce is enthusiastic about Y2Y and maintains an office in Bozeman, Montana to oversee this project. The Foundation’s hundred or so annual grants total a few million dollars.
Wilburforce gave the Alberta chapters of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) $240,000 in 2009. They gave Miistakis Institute $40,000 in 2008 and $25,000 in 2009. Also in both 2008 and 2009 they sent $15,000 cheques to Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition, $20,000 cheques to Alberta Wilderness Association, and $40,000 cheques to Sierra Club Canada (for grizzly bear activism in Alberta). Pembina got $70,000 in 2009. (29)
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation owns assets worth $6.7 billion (US$) and hands out $300 million a year. The Foundation employs 104 people at their Menlo Park, California HQ (the first building in California awarded a gold LEED certificate).
Hewlett’s influence in Alberta involves grants to Pembina for $180,000 in 2003, $400,000 in 2004, $360,000 in 2005, $600,000 in 2006, $500,000 in 2007, $600,000 in 2008, and $200,000 in 2009. This money was for climate change activism. Hewlett gave Tides Canada $400,000 in 2010 to suppress fossil fuel development. This was in addition to $11 million they gave Tides Canada in 2007. Those funds were mostly for work on the west coast, but $4 million set up an Ecosystem-based Management Fund and $1.5 million went to an Oil and Gas Fund. Tides USA received $5 million in 2008 to suppress oil and gas development in “Northern Canada”. Between 2003 and 2007 Sierra Club Canada received three Hewlett grants totalling $400,000 for climate change activism and to lobby for fuel efficiency standards. (30)
Four of five trustees of Swiss-based Oak Foundation are surnamed Parker. In 2009 they handed out $26 million specifically to “protect the global commons, restore habitat, and achieve a zero carbon global economy.” Tides Foundation was given $700,000 (US$) to:
“...raise the visibility of the tar sands issue and slow the expansion of tar sands production by stopping new infrastructure development.”
Oak gave Global Campaign of Climate Action $5 million to:
“...mobilize civil society and public opinion in Canada to support the transformational change and rapid action to save the planet from dangerous levels of climate change. The Global Campaign of Climate Action will facilitate civil society to undertake massive public organizing, regions and rapid analysis, nimble coordination and effective campaigning at all levels.” (31)
The Canadian Environmental Grantmaker’s Network (CEGN) was established in 1995. CEGN’s board has reps from: EJLB Foundation, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Vancouver Foundation, Winnipeg Foundation, Greater Montreal Foundation, Unilever Canada Foundation, W & D Gordon Foundation, Max Bell Foundation, Metcalf Foundation and Ontario Trillium Foundation. CEGN also receives money from: Alberta Real Estate Foundation and the McConnell, Moore, and Wilburforce foundations. Salient on CEGN’s list of 60 members are the surnames Bronfman, Weston, and Mott. CEGN estimates their members hand out $50 million a year to Canadian ENGOs. CEGN aims to boost this by 33% by 2012. (32)
CEGN member, Toronto-based Catherine Donnelly Foundation (CDF), was originally a Catholic order (Sisters of Service) focused on poverty issues. Slowly turning green, they now declare:
“The Earth mediates the Divine; therefore the Foundation is biased toward projects that strive to contribute to the critical need for ecological balance and environmental services out of a profound conviction that a fundamental shift toward a more holistic, Earth-centered value system is imperative.”
Of the $500,000 per year CDF distributes, about $100,000 goes to the likes of David Suzuki Foundation, Pembina Institute, and Tides Canada. (33)
In 2009 Donner Foundation (of Donner Book Prize fame) gave grants to 80 charities. 12% of their budget goes to conservation. In 2009 they gave $400,000 directly to Canadian ENGOs. Other Donner grants indirectly aided these ENGOs. (34)
In 2009 EJLB Foundation gave $1.9 million to Canadian ENGOs. Environmental Defence Canada received $200,000 to illuminate the public about the global warming caused by the “Tar Sands”. Sierra Club Canada received $50,000 for similar public service. Global Forest Watch’s Edmonton office received three grants of $10,000 a year to highlight the energy industry’s destruction of northern forests. Pembina got $25,000 to promote alternative energy. (35)
Since its 1947 inception London, Ontario’s Ivey Foundation prioritized forest conservation. The Foundation, which is closely held by Iveys, has disbursed $70 million. Their current main initiative is Conserving Canada’s Forests. Ivey president, Bruce Louie, is a leader of the Canadian Boreal Initiative. Recent Ivey grants include one to Nature Alberta for $20,000 and two to Pembina totalling $75,000. (36)
The McConnell family’s J. W. McConnell Foundation (est. 1937) recently gave away its 100 millionth dollar. In 1999 they set aside $10 million for the Green Street environmental education program. (In a 2004 address, McConnell CEO Tim Brodhead surveyed the 1,574 grants Canadian philanthropists had recently awarded to ENGOs. He pondered the pros and cons of having so many ENGOs and whether or not to keep the term “environmentalism”. He concluded by calling for more “capacity building”.) (37)
Since its 1972 launch the Max Bell Foundation has disbursed $65 million. Bell active in Alberta is evidenced by a recent grant of $35,000 to Ducks Unlimited Canada for work around Cooking Lake. (38)
Stephen Bronfman is listed as an “over $1 million” donor by the David Suzuki Foundation. He is on the Suzuki board. Among Stephen’s assets is an organic foods company, SunOpta, with annual sales of $400 million. Stephen runs his own foundation and divides his energy between philanthropy and business, just as he divides his digs between his 15,000 sq ft castle in Montreal and his 5,000 acre estate on Quebec’s north shore. (39)
Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is owned by the Ontario Government. In 2008 OTF gave out $100 million in grants. One OTF objective is to “sustain and promote a greener economy.” At its 25th anniversary (2007) OTF bragged of being the top funder of Ontario ENGOs. Then OTF created its Future Fund (sub-titled: Building Skills for the Green Economy) to disburse an additional $2 million a year toward developing green skills, especially among aboriginals. While OTF’s focus is Ontario, it funds national ENGOs like Nature Conservancy Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, and Canadian Nature Federation. CPAWS, an ENGO highly active in Alberta, received $247,000 from OTF in 2008. (OTF’s master plan is to unite Ontario NGOs, not just ENGOs, into a political force. OTF claims the non-profit sector employs 15% of Ontario’s labour force and has revenues of $47 billion.) (40)
Walter and Duncan Gordon were sons of accounting entrepreneur H. D. Gordon. Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation dates to 1965. Gracing the Foundation’s board are: a former top executive from the Weston group, an alternative energy executive, the Chief of the Gwitchen First Nation, and actress Briony Glasco (Walter’s grand-daughter). Foundation president, Tom Axworthy, was Walter Gordon’s research assistant when Walter was Privy Council President, then went on to become Prime Minister Trudeau’s personal secretary. Axworthy is a director of the Historica Foundation, Harmony Foundation (environmental education), and Bronfman’s CRB Foundation. As a member of the Interaction Council, Axworthy helped eco-theologian Hans Kung draft the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities. Foundation vice-president, James Stauch, was formerly grants manager for The Calgary Foundation and chairman of the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network.
Between 2007 and 2009 the Gordon Foundation gave Pembina $200,000 each year for climate change and water conservation activism. “Watershed stewardship” is a Gordon Foundation cause celebre, especially in Alberta. Their water specialist is a former Sierra Club man. In his schema, watershed stewardship equals demand management. He contends climate change is altering the availability of water, hence necessitating new approaches (eco-babble for opposing bulk water export, inter-river transfer, and shoreline development).
Gordon Foundation’s 2008 Annual Report lists grants to: Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation ($5,000 to hold Keepers of the Water Gathering III), Ecojustice Canada ($30,000 to influence water policy in BC and Alberta toward ecological principles), Environmental Law Society ($24,750 to monitor Alberta water policy and identify barriers to stewardship), and $5,000 for Alberta Water Learning Network. They recently gave $50,000 to Water Matters of Canmore. (41)
Alberta Emerald Foundation (AEF) was created in 1991 by McLennan Ross LLP, Deloitte and Touche, and the Alberta Environment Ministry. AEF recently embarked on a five-year plan to raise $5 million to supplement revenues accruing to them from their endowments at Edmonton Community Foundation and The Calgary Foundation. Much AEF funding originates from governments and energy companies. AEF media sponsors include CTV and Edmonton Journal. AEF board members have included Lt. Governors and Edmonton mayors. AEF’s Emerald Awards are the Oscars of Alberta environmentalism. (42)
According to statute, Alberta Law Foundation (ALF) is entitled to interest accumulating on funds held in lawyer’s general trust accounts. As of March 2009 the consolidated average balance in said accounts was $1 billion. Environmentalism is one of many ALF causes. ALF’s favourite ENGO is the Environmental Law Centre to whom they routinely give $350,000 a year. In 2009 ALF gave Pembina $29,915. (43)
The Calgary Foundation (TCF) has pooled philanthropic resources since 1955. They now manage 800 funds with combined assets of $300 million. In 2008-2009 TCF divided $22 million in grants over five Forever Funds. TCF’s Environment Fund:
“...supports projects that protect, preserve, enhance and restore the physical environment. This includes projects that protect or enhance the land, wildlife, natural flora...”
TCF’s enviro-strategy is guided by a 2004 Alberta Ecotrust Foundation report identifying four priorities: Urban Land Management, Water, Wildlife, and Climate Change. TCF claims:
“...in the last 40 years the habitat of Alberta’s wolves, elk and grizzlies has declined substantially due to human interests... Since settlement began in Alberta our wetlands have been slowly disappearing. It is vital to support these fertile, productive ecosystems... Aquatic ecosystems are very susceptible to small changes in water quality.” (44)
Recent TCF grants: Sierra Club ($23,000), Alberta Wilderness Association ($25,000), Foothills Land Trust ($31,600), Y2Y ($25,000), Parks Foundation ($25,000), Ghost River Rediscovery Society ($20,000), Tides Canada ($50,000), Alberta Council for Environmental Education ($60,000), and Clean Calgary ($40,000).
In Land They Trust
There is a seldom articulated yet profound divide between proponents and opponents of expanding the amount of land available for human use. This controversy animates both the conversion of farmland to urban use and the opening of wilderness for agriculture or resource extraction. The landed interest recoil at the mere mention of public lands being thrown onto the market.
At a May 2010 Urban Development Institute conference in Calgary, construction industry leaders vented frustration at land use policies. Albi Homes’ president centered out his industry’s number one problem as lack of access to land. Melcor Development’s CEO, while complaining about the over-regulated land market, noted how his opponents exaggerated the costs of “urban sprawl”. From his vantage point, “rural sprawl” was the problem. Apex Ltd’s CEO said Calgary’s high-density policies were pricing housing out of the market. He argued low-rise developments are cheaper than high rise ones and that a bustling construction industry benefits the whole economy. The delays developers endure waiting to get land approvals, and the unpredictability caused by those delays, were described as “appalling”. In 2002 there were 54 active subdivision developments in Calgary. In 2010 there were 22. (45)
Around the same time Calgary Real Estate Board President told reporters, “Calgary has one of the lowest levels of housing affordability[inCanada].” Families earning less than $50,000 a year can no longer buy a house in Calgary. (46)
Calgary’s retail real estate market vacancy rates of 1% are much lower than most North American cities. Calgary’s downtown core has 0% vacancy. New buildings are rented out before construction is completed. A similar situation exists in areas of Edmonton. This is great for owners of certain parcels of land, but it is not a win-win situation. Businesses renting these premises pay a premium and must pass some of this on to their customers. (47)
Hence the pressure for, and resistance to, opening land for urban development.
This struggle is hardly new. A late 1960s City of Calgary planning report, heeding the landed interest, “warned” of an impending construction boom along the Bow River as commercial developers were cobbling together significant tracts of land. In response Calgary Field Naturalists Society and National and Provincial Parks Association formed the Fish Creek Park Association to block development of a nine kilometre strip from the Bow River to the Sarcee Reserve. Ultimately, to appease the conservationists, Premier Lougheed not only pledged $15 million for a 2,800 acre park over this area, he acquiesced in the unwelcomed expropriation of property owned by his former boss (industrialist Fred Mannix), prompting a multi-year legal feud. Fish Creek Provincial Park, the largest urban park in Canada, was completed in 1983 at a cost to the province of $45 million. (48)
In 1970 activists attacked Carma Development Ltd’s plans to build on Nose Hill – a sprawling patch of tundra on Calgary’s north side. Bowing to the activists, city council imposed a freeze on Nose Hill in 1972, including Carma’s 848 acres. Carma spokesmen complained bitterly about arbitrary interference in the market and consequential increases in housing costs. Nose Hill became a park in 1975. (49)
In 1974 the province allocated $35 million (more than the provincial parks budget for the previous decade) to create Edmonton’s Capital City Recreation Park. This park required expropriating hundreds of households and went ahead despite demonstrable opposition, mocking the public participation process. The City was buying up households for this park well into the 1980s. (50)
In 1980 the province earmarked $57 million for: Medicine Hat Valley Park, Lethbridge River Valley Park, Red Deer Waskasoo Park, Grand Prairie’s Muskoseepi Park, and Lloydminster’s Bud Miner All Seasons Park. Costs ballooned to $87 million before the program ended in 1986. During this period Calgary created Prince’s Island Park and Bow Valley Park in its downtown area. By 1990 Calgary parkland totalled 7,300 ha while Edmonton’s 7,400 ha of park exceeded that of any other North American city. (51)
On another front in the same war, activists foiled construction by blocking demolition of “heritage” buildings (often only 50 years old). Crusading TV reporter Ralph Klein championed old buildings threatened by the wrecker’s ball. (52)
In the late 1980s anti-development activists were horrified by a residential building boom in the southern Foothills. Buyers were mainly prosperous Calgarians. Part of the effort to squelch this sprawl was the lavishly funded Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project headed by eco-spiritualist Dr. Herrero and supported by 55 ENGOs. This 11-year study beatified the grizzly bear into a sacred cow – a multi-purpose pretext for blocking development. (53)
Calgary’s Parks Foundation came together in 1985 primarily to prevent construction on riverfronts. They have since enclosed $100 million worth of real estate. Their Greening a Great City program was a hit. Their 2001 Wetlands Conservation Initiative became Calgary’s Wetlands Conservation Plan. They recently filmed a documentary extolling their achievements. (54)
Today the cutting edge of urban anti-development mobilization, Edmonton’s Responsible Electrical Transmission for Albertans (RETA), claims 6,000 members. They also claim electromagnetic fields from overhead transmission lines cause cancer, dementia, and erectile dysfunction. They arrive at these beliefs using the Precautionary Principle. In 2009 a RETA demo drew 1,500 people – the largest environmentalist protest in Alberta history. RETA claims power lines kill birds and coal-fired electricity causes global warming.
Key to RETA’s success is the targeting of homeowners along proposed transmission line routes. This constituency is easily contacted with hand-delivered notices. RETA claims homeowners living near power lines have a right to compensation. RETA’s main target is EPCOR and Alta Link’s proposed power lines to areas north of Edmonton. RETA demands homeowners within a kilometre of these lines be paid an amount equal to at least 10% of their property’s value. This explains the large turnout at their events: homeowners with dollar signs in their eyes and aluminum foil wrapped around their heads. (55)
Hovering over this tragedy are major real estate-involved enterprises. Among them are the chartered banks for, as diversified as they are, a substantial portion of their assets are mortgages. They dread meltdowns where resale prices of foreclosed properties fall below the dollar value of the loans secured on those properties. Flooding the market with new land is out of the question.
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is committed to “proactive and prudent management of the environmental aspects of business.” RBC puts out shrill propaganda concerning water and forest conservation and climate change. RBC established a carbon trading desk in 2008.
In 2009 RBC gave $52.6 million to charities. Among the beneficiaries: Sierra Club Foundation, Nature Conservancy Canada, WWF-Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Environmental Defence, Tides Canada, Western Wilderness Committee, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, Crooked Creek Conservation, Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park, Parks Foundation, Helen Schuler Nature Centre, Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition, Water Matters, Trout Unlimited Canada, and Alberta Conservation Association.
Additionally, RBC’s Blue Water Project is disbursing $50 million over ten years. Blue Water funds charities “that foster a culture of water stewardship.” In Alberta in 2009, Blue Water gave Alberta Conservation Association $75,000 for work around Red Deer and Lesser Slave Lake. The Preserve Our Water group received $100,000 for after-school programs. Blue Water gave $50,000 to Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park, $30,000 to Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, $75,000 to Trout Unlimited Canada, and $5,000 grants to several lesser Albertan ENGOs. (56)
For 20 years Toronto Dominion’s Friends of the Environment Fund has handed out $2 million a year in grants to a total of 18,400 “grassroots” projects. The Fund’s 40 Alberta chapters engage in tree planting and habitat conservation. Alberta Fish and Game Association and Federation of Alberta Naturalists are regular recipients. With TD’s help, the Calgary Zoo established the Centre for Conservation Research. The Fund financed Evergreen Theatre’s water conservation themed “Go with the Flo.” This play has been viewed by 50,000 Albertan children. (57)
Century-old Bentall LP, Canada’s largest real estate corporation, owns or manages 600 buildings valued at $17 billion. Bentall has offices in seven Canadian cities. Bentall is a leader in “sustainable environmental practices”. Their CO2 reducing/water conserving ‘Power Green’ brand is lauded in a brochure extolling their other enviro-activities. Bentall funds WWF-Canada, David Suzuki Foundation et al. (58)
Manulife Financial’s $6 billion Canadian real estate portfolio includes $2 billion in residential, office, retail, and industrial properties in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor. They own $300 million worth of real estate in Alberta.
Manulife is the world’s largest manager of investor-owned forestland. In 2009 they planted seedlings on 101,000 acres. Their Sensitive Lands Program cordons off 400,000 acres. They recently partnered with the Nature Conservancy to convert 13,000 acres of Virginia into that state’s largest private conservancy. Manulife’s timber holdings are used as offsets for their CO2 emissions. Manulife buys only Forest Stewardship Council certified paper.
Manulife’s $1.2 billion worth of farmland is environmentally stewarded.
Manulife has invested $3.4 billion into renewable energy. They financed three wind farms in Canada in 2009.
Manulife dialogues with governments to advance environmentalism and preaches environmentalism to its employees. Their employees “volunteered” to plant 72,000 seedlings in 2009 and routinely “volunteer” for eco-activist projects around Toronto. Manulife donates $25 million to charity annually. (59)
Oxford Properties owns or manages $15 billion of real estate in Canada, USA, and the UK. These assets include 250,000 rental apartments and seven Fairmont Hotels. Oxford often relies on the Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System to fund acquisitions and developments. Oxford construction projects are uptown office towers and malls such as the 2 million sq ft City View business park in Edmonton and the twin-tower 1.2 million sq ft Centennial Place in Calgary.
Oxford aspires to be a “sustainability leader.” In their “Guiding Principles” they frankly state:
“We actively monitor, mitigate and exploit the market, regulatory and economic issues related to and arising from sustainability.”
Oxford employs Pembina Institute as a consultant. (60)
Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) is a creature of the Alberta Real Estate Act (1991) according to which AREF receives the interest on real estate brokers’ pooled trust accounts. AREF has donated $12.4 million to 405 projects.
In 2008 AREF gave Miistakis Institute $132,285 for land-use analysis. In 2009 AREF gave $812,000 to ENGOs, to wit: Alberta Land Trust Alliance ($40,000), Cows and Fish ($50,000), ARUSHA ($30,000), Biosphere Institute of Bow Valley ($30,000), CPAWS ($12,500), Clean Calgary ($50,000), Environmental Law Centre ($40,400), Foothills Land Trust ($24,240), Helen Schuler Nature Centre ($35,000), Water Matters ($25,000), West Athabasca Bioregional Watershed Society ($48,000), and Y2Y ($25,000).
December 2009 was the debut of AREF’s “Stewardship for Sustainability” program wherein Crowsnest Conservation Society promotes wildlife corridors in southwest Alberta. In 2010 Cows and Fish began AREF-funded seminars to convince landowners of the value of “natural capital” (slews and bush). (61)
Land trusts permanently lock down parcels of land through conservation easements. Such easements are registered contracts between landowners and qualified land trusts whereby both parties agree to suppress development of a given area. The federal Ecological Gifts program provides tax benefits to landowners who donate land, or partial interests in land, to conservancies. The Ecological Gift’s value is 100% deductible against donor income. Across Canada 800 Ecological Gifts covering 134,000 acres and valued at $500 million have been made. (62) While Ecological Gifts accelerated private land conservation in Alberta, such activity predates this program.
The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area was created by Sandy Cross – son of A. E. Cross (one of the Big Four founders of the Calgary Stampede). Sandy Cross began accumulating land along Calgary’s southern perimeter in 1945. In 1987 he donated 2,000 acres of this land towards a conservancy (then the largest land gift in Canadian history.) In 1996 he donated an adjoining 2,800 acres. The Cross Foundation raised $4 million to manage these lands in cooperation with Nature Conservancy Canada. (63)
Clifford Lee owned several pharmacies in Edmonton and the Nu West real estate company. (He was also Alberta CCF leader). Upon Lee’s death, much of his estate went to purchasing, in cooperation with the Canadian Nature Federation, 348 acres south of Edmonton. This land is now owned by the Lee Nature Sanctuary Society. (64)
J.J. Collett is a hero to land bugs for refusing lucrative offers from home builders wishing to buy his 635 acres near booming Red Deer. The land was eventually sold to conservationists (with provincial government assistance) and is now the Collett Natural Area. Subsequent provincial grants put up outhouses and signs. (65)
Scouting land north of Edmonton is the Legacy Lands Conservation Society. They view land trusts as the alternative to urbanization. They founded Edmonton and Area Land Trust (EALT) with Edmonton Community Foundation, Edmonton Nature Club, and Land Stewardship Centre Canada. In EALT’s words:
“The Land Trust is a result of collaboration among environmentalists, philanthropists, developers and the City of Edmonton. Members of all four groups are all interested in ensuring natural spaces are conserved and protected.” (66)
In 2007 EALT assembled an activist “tool box” with $40,000 from Alberta Real Estate Foundation. The tool box is “onestep in an ambitious plan to earmark and secure natural spaces.” EALT plans to buy land and build awareness.
Foothills Land Trust (FLT) recently held an open house at Cross Conservation Area for landowners interested in “the growing trend in land conservation.” FLT members own land in the Municipal District of Foothills. Prominent among them are the owners of the Highwood Organic Ranch. FLT’s Vision is:
“Future communities of all species treasure and are sustained by our web of abundant wild and working landscapes.”
FLT pilots land trusts and advertizes the tax benefits of conservation easements. They receive funds from The Calgary Foundation, Alberta Real Estate Foundation, and Alberta Land Trust Alliance. (67)
Sheep River Valley Preservation Society (formerly Sheep River Land Trust) buys land and easements. The Society is involved in the Macleod Trail Land Project and Big Rock Site.
Southern Alberta Land Trust Society protects native grassland ecosystems on the Eastern Slopes through conservation easements.
Western Sky Land Trust Society champions conservancies within Calgary’s boundaries and in the Municipal Districts of Rocky View and Foothills. They preserve both farmland and wilderness. They solicit land donations and easements by promising to nurture land ecologically.
For a quarter century Alberta Fish and Game Association (AFGA) has pitched conservationism at rural landowners. AFGA founded the Wildlife Trust Fund in 1983. This Fund owns 80 scattered properties totalling 30,000 acres (2 acres per AFGA member). Members treat these lands as private reserves. With provincial funds AFGA publishes detailed guide books for members. (68)
Alberta Land Trust Alliance, founded with funds from the Alberta Environment Ministry, gives land trusts a “unified voice.” Alliance members are: Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Fish and Game Association, Crooked Creek Conservancy Society Athabasca, Edmonton Area Land Trust, Land Stewardship Centre Canada, Nature Conservancy Canada, Southern Alberta Land Trust, Western Sky Land Trust, Wild Elk foundation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and the government’s Alberta Sport Recreation Park and Wilderness Fund. The Alliance’s website is very eco. Their Vision is an Alberta where: “landscapes are rich in bio-diversity and have strong ecological integrity.” Their Mission is: “to conserve diverse and ecologically important landscapes in Alberta.” However, the Alliance is in crisis. Funding ran out in July 2010 and they are without an executive director. They are also worried about two ongoing lawsuits challenging the meaning of conservation easements. (69)
Grain farm consolidation throws land onto the market. Modern livestock practices require less land than traditional grazing. A universal facet of the green agenda, preserving the countryside by opposing agricultural modernization, is a bulwark against collapsing land values. This makes for unusual allies.
In 1989 Harvey Buckley (rancher, PC Party stalwart, and Agricultural Marketing Council chairman) founded Action for Agriculture to push farmland preservation. Buckley argued urbanization and industrialization undermine Alberta’s social health. He was inducted into the Alberta Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1997. (70)
In the 1990s Alberta’s environmentalists took aim at large feedlots and the growing use of pesticides and fertilizers. This assault on “factory farming” was bolstered by a federal government study suggesting run-off from modern farms degraded water quality. A 2001 Pembina Institute report warned of increased pesticide use. Since then disputes have erupted across Alberta. Rural municipalities are besieged by environmentalists blocking agri-business expansion.
The mantras of Carstairs-based Society for Environmentally Responsible Livestock Operations (SERLO) are “sustainable” and “stewardship.” SERLO militantly opposes confined feeding operations. Such practises lead to “adecreaseinpropertyvalues.” SERLO is obsessed with giving grief to AAA Cattle Ltd’s operation near Didsbury. SERLO boasts of killing a proposed 3,000-sow pork-producing operation. (71)
Wildrose Agricultural Producers (WAP) is arguably Alberta’s largest ENGO. Before 1995 WAP was Unifarm – a society formed by the 1970 merger of Farmers’ Union of Alberta and Alberta Federation of Agriculture. Precursors date to 1907 when Alberta farmers first banded to establish non-market retail, insurance, and marketing entities and to lobby for tax-breaks, subsidies, and protection.
WAP does not represent all agricultural producers. They oppose “commodity specific” farmers and ranchers. They support: the Canadian Wheat Board, sustainable farm income, fair trade practices, rural town preservation, and state aid in overcoming farm labour shortages.
WAP’s support for regulations mandating biofuel blending is cloaked in environmental rhetoric as is its call for increased surface rights compensation. WAP supports the conservationist Water for Life complex. WAP considers the Alternative Land Use Services pilot project to be a good first step and calls for an extension of Canada Alberta Farm Stewardship Program because:
“Landowners should be compensated by the public for good stewardship practises and parcel set asides that enhance air, land and water quality as well as wildlife preservation and biodiversity.” (72)
According to the Woodlot Association of Alberta (WAA):
“...in the 1990s logging on private land around Alberta was rampant... landowners were being cheated and the landscape was being drastically altered.”
To confront these wrongs, a brave coalition of Cochrane landowners and tree-huggers (funded by the Canadian Forest Service) founded WAA. Their propaganda is filled with terms like: “environment”, “inherent value”, and “sustainable”. A “woodlot” is any clumps of trees on private property. WAA preserves clumps by suppressing logging and clearances and by preaching the true value of trees. (73)
Many Alberta ENGOs are rural landowner alliances. Hastings Lakefront Owners Association and Farmers of the Elbow Watershed incorporate rural landowning into their names. The following ENGOs explicitly describe themselves as landowner alliances: Association of Summer Villages, Drywood Creek Watershed Group, Bonny Lake Sustainability Association, Lake Isle Management Society, Pincher Creek Watershed Group, and Waters Edge Resources Group. The Northwest Alliance Conservation Initiative aims to increase farm profitability through environmentalist practices. Several ENGOs are connected to farmers’ markets; Cochrane Environmental Action Committee is entirely funded by one.
Some ENGOs consist of ranchers who use public lands for grazing; thus, want these lands to remain undeveloped and available. They make common cause with hunting guides and outfitters who also profit from these lands. This material interest is evident in: Willmore Wilderness Foundation, West Central Forage Association, Milk River Ranchers Association, and Blackfoot Forest Reserve Graziers Association. The Fox Stock Association consists of ranchers seeking to preserve grazing land in Cypress Hill Park. Lyndon Creek Conservation Society and Friends of the Little Red Deer River Society have similar motives. Grey Wooded Forage Association’s staff place their semi-annual newsletter in 9,000 rural mail boxes. (74)
Major Corporations and Alberta's Environmentalism
Businesses support environmentalism in varying degrees and for various reasons. Certain chemical companies and manufacturers are highly supportive of environmentalism, but such firms do not figure prominently in Alberta. Corporations with a presence in Alberta like Mountain Equipment Co-op and Waste Management Inc have obvious material stakes in environmentalism. The main corporate supporters of environmentalism in Alberta are big oil and gas companies.
From humble beginnings in Vancouver in 1971, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) expanded into a leading Canadian retailer of recreational and camping gear. MEC is a “values based” company with a website larded with eco-propaganda. They sponsor Bikefests and Paddlefests. MEC’s Fund for the Environment purchased, and intends to enclose, $1.3 million worth of land. Since 1987 MEC has given $12.7 million to ENGOs. Giving will increase as they implement their “1% For the Planet” program. MEC enviro-donations were $2 million in 2007.
In 2009 MEC gave $150,000 to Alberta-based ENGOs such as: Southern Alberta Land Trust ($25,000), Nature Canada ($12,831 for the “Save Suffield” campaign), Sierra Club ($30,000 for grizzly and water activism in Alberta), and Water Matters ($15,000). MEC also funds Western Athabasca Watershed Bioregional Society’s anti-mining activism.
(Much MEC merchandise is made in Chinese factories powered by coal-fired electricity.) (75)
Waste Management’s logo is “Think Green”. WM is North America’s leading garbage removal company (“environmental services provider”). WM owns 273 landfills, 134 recycling plants, and 16 waste-to-energy power plants. WM’s website is all about sustainability. On WM’s Greenopolis internet news network, rock stars denounce corporate greed. Both WM Inc and WM Canada Inc fund ENGOs but neither are forthcoming with details. (76)
Over the last three years British Petroleum’s annual revenues averaged $300 billion (US$) and their profits hovered near $20 billion. BP’s slogan is “Beyond Petroleum”. They have pumped out global warming propaganda for 25 years and are capitalizing on the transition from coal-fired to gas-fired electrical generation. BP is a cap-and-trade legislation booster and has extensive investments in wind power, solar power, and biofuels.
BP’s involvement in oilsands is internally divisive. Prior to BP’s 2010 AGM, Greenpeace led a campaign to convince shareholders to divest oilsands assets. Shareholders owning 15% of BP, led by California Public Employees Retirement System, voted to divest.
Since 2007 one of BP’s Environmental Giving programs, A+ for Energy, has spent $1.7 million giving 123 workshops to 30,000 Albertan students. (77)
Calgary-based Enbridge owns 13,000 kilometres of pipeline. Enbridge pays lip service to Corporate Social Responsibility and is committed to reducing CO2 emissions, which they boast of having monitored since 1995. Enbridge’s six wind farms account for 4% of Canada’s wind power capacity. Enbridge built the world’s first hybrid fuel cell power plant. They installed solar panels on pipelines to reduce propane use.
In 2007 Enbridge gave $5.7 million to charities. Their Natural Legacy Program funds: Tree Canada, Nature Conservancy Canada, Trout Unlimited Canada, Alberta Emerald Foundation, Evergreen, Pacific Salmon Foundation, and Ducks Unlimited Canada. The $550,000 they gave Canadian ENGOs in 2009 did not spare Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal from being assailed by environmentalists. (78)
Calgary-based Encana puts out boilerplate Corporate Social Responsibility rhetoric and gifts 1% of pre-tax profits. Their Environmental Innovation Fund finances alternative energy and CO2 reduction research. None of this money is spent in Alberta. Encana “share(s) the public’s concern for the environment and we partner with organizations that are for and protect the environment.” Partners are Alberta Ecotrust, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Inside Education. (79)
Imperial Oil (69.6% owned by ExxonMobil) owns 2,000 Esso stations in Canada. Imperial is directly involved in the oilsands with their Kearl Project and indirectly through their 25% ownership of Syncrude.
Imperial Oil Foundation and Imperial Oil Community Support, combined, disbursed $22 million last year. $2.2 million went directly to ENGOs and more went indirectly as their environment and education programs overlap. Of the 40 ENGOs funded by Imperial, half are either Albertan (Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, Calgary’s Environmental Expo, Western Sky Land Trust) or are national groups whose Imperial-financed projects are situated in Alberta (Ducks Unlimited Canada, Nature Conservancy Canada). (80)
Suncor, owned by the Pews until the 1990s, is a major oilsands producer. Suncor owns four wind farms including two in Alberta. Suncor’s biofuel facility at St. Clair, Ontario turns 20 million bushels of corn into 200 million litres of ethanol annually. They plan to double capacity with a $120 million investment. To prove this facility’s ecological bona fides, Suncor hired Pembina Institute to do a Life Cycle Value Assessment. Pembina dutifully conjectured St Clair reduces CO2 emissions by 300,000 tonnes a year.
Between 1998 and 2008 Suncor Energy Foundation “invested” $48 million in charities. Priority locales were: Fort McMurray, Edson, Grand Prairie, Calgary, and Edmonton. Priorities subjects were education and “projects that generate awareness in environmental issues and strengthen the impact of environmental organizations.” They gave Ducks Unlimited Canada $1.5 million in 2008. (81)
Shell Canada accounts for 30% of the assets of its parent, Royal Dutch Shell. The parent company (102,000 employees) was the first major oil company to join the global warming hoax. They are well invested in gas-fired electricity, biofuels and carbon capture and storage. Royal Dutch Shell funds elite ENGOs like Wetlands International and International Union for the Conservation of Nature. (82)
Since 2000 Shell Canada has “invested” $75 million in: employee well-being and education (emphasizing native education) and environmentalism. Over a 30-year period Shell Canada graced Nature Conservancy Canada with $6.5 million in cash and land. They also fund Tree Canada. In Alberta Shell funds three conservancies (Cross, Big Hill Springs, and Mount Broadhead). They fund an ecological restoration project near Rocky Mountain House and are involved in the Kananaskis-area Moose Mountain Environmental Enhancement joint venture with Husky Oil and Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition. Shell Canada’s Environment Fund provides many $10,000 grants for “grassroots action orientated projects” such as Calgary’s Two Wheel View. A companion program offers grants of up to $100,000. (83)
Talisman Energy Inc’s Calgary head office oversees operations in North America, Southeast Asia, and the North Sea. (Talisman owns an experimental wind farm off the Scottish coast.) In 2008 Talisman’s “investment in communities” program spread $7.5 million across this area. The $3.9 million distributed in Canada mostly went to education. Talisman awarded Ducks Unlimited Canada $500,000 for a five-year environmental education program, Project Webfoot, presented in 50 communities. (84)
By operating a diverse collection of energy assets, including 60,000 kilometres of pipeline, TransCanada Pipeline generates $1 billion a year in profits. Ownership of coal-fired power plants puts them in conflict with environmentalism. Nevertheless, the company uses the climate change agenda to promote its natural gas and nuclear assets. They own wind farms in Maine and Quebec.
TransCanada engages in wildlife conservation on its properties. As well, its Community Connections office funds ENGOs because “we are committed to environmental education and stewardship within the areas of air emissions, water equality and species at risk.” TransCanada partners with Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Nature Canada, Trout Unlimited Canada, and finances a wetlands project at Calgary’s Heritage Park. (85)
Also in the energy business, although no longer a producer, is City of Edmonton’s EPCOR. They provide electrical transmission and water services to Edmonton and area. EPCOR is one of Canada’s top ten “Earth-friendly” employers. Their “environmental vision” compels them to promote electricity conservation.
On the water front EPCOR’s primary concern is drinking water safety, not protecting wildlife or using chemical scares to suppress industry. An EPCOR panel studying water run-off from confined livestock operations focused on Cryptosporidium and Giardia and concluded there was no cause for alarm.
At the same time, EPCOR partners with Ducks Unlimited Canada, North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, River Watch, and Rocky Riparian Group. EPCOR funded several environmentalist agriculture groups and Nature Alberta’s “Living near Urban Lakes” brochure. This appeasement has not spared EPCOR from serious environmentalist obstruction. (86)
There are many lesser corporate contributors to Albertan environmentalism. The following are named as sponsors by ENGOs active in Alberta: Devon Energy, Dundee Wealth Management, Filtralite, Genstar, Great Canadian Superstores, Google Inc, Honda, Lexus, Sapphire, Shaw, Sobeys, Vale Inco, and Tim Hortons. Honourable mention goes to International Netherlands Group (ING) – the first bank to go 100% carbon neutral and a regular supporter of “biodiversity”. Also noteworthy is boutique bath products retailer, Lush, who recently ordered employees at 150 stores to dress up in plastic barrels to protest oilsands production. This action was done in cooperation with Greenpeace and Forest Action Network who supplied the fib that oilsands producers emit 300% more CO2 than conventional oil producers (actually 10% more). (87)
The forest industry, a traditional foe of environmentalists, has also cut the low road of appeasement. The 62-member Alberta Forest Products Association created ForestCare in 1990 to ensure members reforest harvested areas and allow for “multiple” (read: enviro) forest usage. More jarring was Forest Products Association of Canada’s 2010 capitulation to the Canadian Boreal Initiative.
Environmentalism in Alberta's Universities
People who drain slews and clear bush need not study wild flora and fauna in minutiae. Wildlife trivia is useful only to those wishing to thwart improvement of wasteland.
Conservation Biology and Ecology are pseudo-scientific political ideologies. Conservationism is a policy platform for restraining resource extraction and frontier settlement. Conservation Biology is the study of life forms in furtherance of conservationism. Conservation Biology is as much a warping of science as would be a Libertarian Physics or a Communist Chemistry.
Ecology from its 19th century inception to the present has been a value-saturated creed cloaked in scientific jargon. Ecologists have always trafficked in population and energy crises. They have always romanticized and deified Nature. Ecologists have long boasted that theirs is the “subversive science”, inextricably tied to undermining entrepreneurial industrialization.
Alberta’s universities do not offer degrees in Ecology, Conservation Biology, or Environmentalism, nor are any faculties so named. Subversive agendas must be smuggled amidst practical programs.
Alberta’s universities are primary social carriers of environmentalism. In the late 1960s Alberta’s Biology students were instructed to place flies in terrariums, observe their population growth, and extrapolate this into neo-Malthusian commentaries on human over-population. Psychology classes discussed the behaviour of monkeys in overcrowded cages. U of Calgary Geography students were instructed to report on local environmental problems.
An academic party line was evident in a 1968 guest lecture on overpopulation at Lethbridge U given by U of Alberta Dean of Agriculture, C. F. Bentley. He predicted mass famine by 1975 and fuel exhaustion by 2000. Billions would die! Bentley chastised as irresponsible local critics who said there was plenty of vacant land around Lethbridge. (88)
In 1971 Dr. Walter Worth, chair of Alberta’s Commission on Educational Planning, declared “environmentaleducation therefore must dominate the future horizon – if there is a future horizon.” (89)
In keeping with the de-industrialization agenda, universities proliferated and ballooned. There are now many universities in Alberta, each hosting warrens of eco-activists.
Edmonton’s University of Alberta has 37,000 students. Of its 18 faculties three are environmentalist bastions: Science; Native Studies; and Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences. U of A subsidiary, the 988-student Augustana College, also hosts a green platoon. (90)
U of Calgary has 29,000 students, 2,761 academic staff, and 17 faculties divided into 60 departments. U of C greenies are nested in: Environmental Science; Earth Sciences; Science, Technology and Society; and the Faculty of Environmental Design. Coming on stream is the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy whose new ultra-green building will provide space for 1,000 students. Announced in 2010 was U of C’s Carbon Management Canada. With $25 million in funds from the federal ecoTrust Fund, Carbon Management will hire 100 energy, environmental, and sociology profs from 21 universities for CO2 reduction research. (Another $25 million from this Fund went to U of A for clean oilsands research). (91)
Mount Royal University has 9,793 full-time students and an annual budget of $174 million. Mount Royal’s Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning won a gold LEED certificate. The university itself won the 2007 City of Calgary’s Blue Sky Award for Environmental Achievement. (92)
Lethbridge University now has several faculties (Nursing, Management, Fine Arts, Education, etc). In Arts and Sciences one finds the greenish Departments of Biological Sciences and Environmental Sciences. (93)
King’s University’s 630 students enjoy an environmentally conscious campus managed from a creation-stewardship perspective. The King’s website links to 80 Christian ENGOs. (94)
Sales pitches are revealing.
U of A’s 108-prof Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Science (ALES) advertizes 11 types of B.Sc. degree. ALES’s View Book boasts about their unique skill in “valuing environmental goods and services.” Plastered with photos of models enjoying the great outdoors, the View Book looks unmistakably like an ENGO brochure. Professors in Tilly hats pose before iconic wilderness backdrops.
ALES’s Renewable Resources Department self-describes as:
“...a diverse group of academics united by a passion for wise management of natural resources based on understanding the integration of landscape elements and the biota with which we share our planet. Never has the need for our sort of science been more crucial...”
ALES’s Rural Economy Department, self-describes as:
“...a unique group of applied economists and sociologists” focusedon “agriculture, forestry and issues of the environment.”
ALES’s bizarro Human Ecology Department probes “an interdisciplinary socio-ecological field that uses a holistic systems approach.” They study the “near environment,” like clothing. The main source of pride for Human Ecology’s 40 academics (95% female) is a vast collection of exotic garments.
Augustana U’s Enviro Science and Enviro Studies departments:
“Both explore issues related to our growing human population, use and overuse of resources, damage caused by pollution and disturbance and the endangerment and extinction of species and natural ecosystems... Without informed and caring citizens the deterioration of our natural environment will continue. In addition, society has great demand for Environmental Science graduates as employment in the environmental sector is growing faster than overall employment.”
U of C’s Faculty of Environmental Design crows:
“...a long history and an international reputation in areas related to architecture, environmental design, ecologically sensitive intervention and sustainability.”
U of C’s Earth Sciences program takes a multi-disciplinary approach to globalization, climate change, and biospheric interaction because “environmental issues facing our planet are related to the interaction between natural systems and society.” Students are promised careers doing environmental impact assessments, reclamation, and enviro-monitoring.
Lethbridge U’s Enviro-Sci dean claims:
“There is no better time or place to study environmental science.”
Mount Royal U’s Enviro-Sci Department’s pitch is:
“As the third wave of environmental concern spurs global environmental awareness and green job growth, MRU continues to offer environmental programs to keep pace... the environmental profession is Canada’s fastest growing and most diverse field of employment.”
Mount Royal’s Earth Sciences Department lures with:
“A recent United Nations report proclaimed that Earth Scientists are today’s key players in building a sustainable world... Prepare for a career where you can make a difference.”
Both departments promise careers in conservation, land use planning, and “environmental industries”.
Most university students enrol in pre-professional programs, like pre-medicine, to gain entry into professional colleges. They endure a purgatory in Arts and Sciences where the course menu is divided between the general and profession-specific. As enviro-propaganda courses are sown throughout this menu, all students are subjected to a modicum of indoctrination. Special programs train enviro-movement cadre.
For instance, U of C’s Natural Sciences program is the “flagship B.Sc.” for pre-professional students and is not very eco. The Natural Sciences program is much larger than the Environmental Science program, which offers a social/science approach to environmental/political issues. The Enviro-Sci program (est. 1996) is a small “hands on” school: five profs, 40 students. Courses are restricted to Enviro-Sci majors. The emphasis is on field research. Similarly, U of C’s Earth Sciences program employs only four profs. Most Earth-Sci courses are from the Arts and Sciences menu.
Again, U of C’s Faculty of Environmental Design offers two Masters programs: Architecture and Environmental Design. The Architecture program is practical (however, it increasingly emphasizes solar power, green buildings, and spirituality). On the other hand, Environmental Design’s 15 profs include luminaries like Dr. Getachew Assefa whose specialties are sustainable development and eco-efficiency, Dr. Cormack Gates (bison and rattlesnake conservation), and Dr. Marco Musiani (conservation biology and landscape ecology).
U of C’s Science, Technology and Society is part of its Faculty of Communications & Culture (C&C). Students must take one natural science discipline up to the 400 level and supplement this with C&C courses such as Development 201 where they can learn of “thedevastating effect globalization can have on developing countries.” In Development 403 Inuit scholar Dr. Apentik lectures on climate change.
Augustana’s two enviro departments employ 12 profs; among them: a bird-watching conservation biologist, a bat conservationist, a herbal medicine expert, a sociologist specializing in globalization’s impact on gender, and a theologist preaching on the divinity-environment connection.
Lethbridge U’s Bio-Sci Department’s practical function is teaching life sciences to nursing students. Those pursuing a Biology B.Sc., if not bound for professional college, are directed towards careers as environmental protectionists, ecologists, or aquatic specialists. The department’s 15 profs teach 39 courses of which four are deemed Enviro-Sci. Among the Biology courses are: Principles of Ecology, Ecology of Health, Evolutionary Ecology, Conservation Biology, Prairie Conservation, Field Biology, Ecosystems and Community Ecology, Aquatic Ecosystems, Environmental Physiology, and Molecular Ecology. Lethbridge’s Enviro-Sci Dept. claims a faculty and staff of 21, but these overlap with Bio-Sci. Enviro-Sci students take mostly Biology and Geology classes from the main menu plus the four Enviro-Sci classes.
On the Athabasca U course menu are: Intro to Environmental Science, Environmental Science Projects, Humanity and the Ecosphere, Environmental Change in Global Context, Environmental Change, Environmental Assessment, Community-based Environmental Protection, and Political Ecology & Global Environmental Change. (95)
Of the 19 profs employed in U of A’s ALES Faculty’s Rural Economy Department, five list their specialties as: environmental economics, resource politics and environmental risk, environmental and resource economics, environmental sociology, and social responses to ecological change.
ALES’s Renewable Resources Department’s 38 profs claim specialties like: conservation biology, endangered species ecology, reclamation, environmental risk, sustainable agriculture, wildlife management, forage crops, forest ecology, applied ecology, restoration ecology, northern environmental conservation, watershed management, and forest conservation. Half this department’s courses have “Conservation”, “Ecology”, or “Environmental Sustainability” in their titles. Overlapping Renewable Resources is the new Forest Science Department. Of its 30 courses, four have “Ecology” in their title.
U of A’s Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department shuffles a deck of practical Geology courses with enviro-propaganda cards like: Environment Alberta (appreciation of the province’s environmental problems), Environment Earth (pollution, global change and shoreline development), Mass Extinction (human impact on the biosphere), Intro to Global Change (environmental change caused by humans), Human Dimensions of Global Change (deforestation, climate change, pollution), Human Dimensions of Environmental Change, Environmental Change (anthropogenic impact), Resource Management and Environmental Policy (how ENGOs address scarcity and policy).
With 74 profs, 270 grad students, 120 support staff, and a research budget of $16 million, U of A’s Biological Sciences Department is the largest department on campus and one of the largest bio-sci institutions in North America.
“Ecology” is not a U of A Bio-Sci undergraduate course category. “Biology” is a course category and accounts for half the department’s courses. Of 40 Biology classes, 11 have “Ecology” in their title. Biology classes include: Conservation Biology; Wetlands Ecology; Problems in Conservation Biology; People, Pollution and the Environment; Population Ecology; and Eco-toxicology. Among the few “Botany” courses is: Global Change and Ecosystems. The “Zoology” course category offers: Wildlife Population Dynamics, Wildlife Disease, Behavioural Ecology, and Problems in Behaviour Ecology.
Nor is “Ecology” a U of A Bio-Sci graduate course category. “Ecology” is one of six informal “research interest groups” (RIG). Thirty-two full-time profs, 15 adjunct profs, and 11 professor emeriti are in the Ecology RIG. Their specialties are: parks management, wetland management, climate change, human disturbance as a conduit for ecological invasion, forestry-wildlife interaction in north-eastern Alberta, ecological modelling for conservation, wildlife management, ecological impacts of climate change on northern mammal conservation, ecological impacts of logging, climate change and planetary breathing, pollution and wild fish, modelling habitat fragmentation on wolf territoriality, forest fragmentation’s impact on insectivores, invasive species ecology, biodiversity in provincial parks, and game ranching’s negative impacts. Eco RIG’s current star, Dr. Colleen Cameron St Clair, supervises teams of grad students working on wildlife corridors and on the ecology of CO2 emissions.
King’s U’s Environmental Studies Department is divided into enviro-social and enviro-science programs. Twelve enviro classes are offered to students who must also take general biology, chemistry and sociology classes. Classes include: Humankind and the Biosphere, Environmental Impact Assessments, and the eco-creationist All Things Theology.
The symbiotic relationship between eco-activism and eco-study is endemic.
The Pembina Institute received $30,000 from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation in 2009 to enhance leadership skills of university enviro-students. Shell Canada funds a $500,000 a year program paying enviro-students to work on Nature Conservancy Canada land. Each enviro-student at King’s U is promised internships at Nature Alberta, Nature Conservancy Canada, CPAWS, etc. Lethbridge U promises enviro-students “an opportunity to work with local researchers at Ducks Unlimited, Nature Conservancy and Alberta Conservation Association.” A seminar course designed by Prairie Conservation Forum has been taught at Lethbridge U since 1998.
Enviro-students are channelled into activism. ALES’s internal news bulletins are entirely taken up with green activism. U of C’s Environmental Design Faculty’s news postings feature stories are about solar power weenie roasts and eco-awards won by students. U of C enviro-students are pressed into the Environmental Science Students Association (ESSA) which “brings environmental awareness to our community and encourages the debate of current environmental issues”. ESSA is run by “dedicated” enviro-students. ESSA’s website links to 40 ENGOs.
Curriculums direct students into activism. U of C enviro-students monitor the “ecological integrity” of Calgary’s parks. U of A Bio-Sci grad students are “strongly encouraged” to enrol in the activist Advanced Ecology course while nine other grad courses require students to involve themselves in professor-approved “ecological topics”. Two Athabasca U environmental courses require students to become active in local environmental issues. Their Case Studies in Environmental Protection is of a “participatory educational model” wherein “a key to the design of the course is the contribution of groups involved with environmental controversies.”
Student eco-activists are not amateurs. These days “learning a living” is common. In addition to standard loans and grants, there are perks for greenies. Talisman offers seven $10,000-a-year grants to U of C Enviro-Sci students. U of A Bio-Sci Masters and Ph.D. students are guaranteed funding for three to five years at annual rates of $18,500 and $19,100. There are many greenies among U of A’s 550 “post docs” (people with Ph.D.s but without jobs earning $40,000 a year picking scraps of teaching and research). (96)
Eco-activism is not confined to students.
U of A’s Dr. David Schindler is billed by his university as “an outspoken critic on environmental issues.” Schindler rose to stardom as director (1969-89) of the Experimental Lake Project, Ontario (a highly successful environmental movement “capacity building” action within academia). Schindler is often quoted in the media in connection with anti-oilsands or anti-hydro dam activism and is usually identified as an ecologist. (His personal blurb mentions neither Ecology nor activism – here he is all ‘science guy’.) In 2008 the Gordon Foundation gave Schindler $80,186 to “study of the contamination of the Athabasca River from oilsands mining.” In May 2010 he appeared in Fort Chipewyan accompanied by Natural Resource Defence Council’s Dr. Solomon for a “pre-publication release” of his paper alleging oilsands extraction poisoned natives. A week later Schindler toured Scandinavia on Greenpeace’s anti-oilsands bandwagon. (97)
U of C professor emeritus Stephen Herrero began pushing the Y2Y mega-park at a 1994 conference where he claimed that only after the public were excluded from Y2Y lands could ecologists “build outward from them ecosystem management strategies based on long term grizzly and other mobile species viability.” In a 1970 paper Herrero expressed “soul-deep love of nature” adding “my biases and values have significantly influenced even the scientific or factual data I have collected.” Herrero influenced park policy for decades. Between 1994 and 2002 his Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project consumed $1.4 million in public funds before concluding: “sustainable human caused [grizzly] mortality will involve designing and managing people’s activities and facilities with grizzly bears in mind.” (98)
Firmly wedged into Alberta Conservation Association’s executive is U of A Biologist Dr. Lee Foote. He co-chairs ACA’s Grants in Biodiversity program which, in collaboration with the multi-university Cooperative Conservation Research Unit, doles out $20,000-a-year grants to enviro-students. ACA gives this program $225,000 a year. U of A Biologist Dr. Mark Boyce, as ACA Chair of Fisheries and Wildlife, administers a small fund for grad students doing field research. Boyce, a Safari Club International ‘Conservationist of the Year’, is often quoted in the media as a grizzly expert.
U of A’s Dr. Greg Taylor is on the board of the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI). Four of ABMI’s 20 employees have Biology Ph.D.s. ABMI’s Science Centre is on theU of A campus. (99)
On Alberta Lake Management Society’s board are two Biology Ph.D. candidates and one Stephanie Neufeld who, with an MA in Enviro-Biology, serves as Society spokesperson when not too busy at her main gig as EPCOR’s in-house watershed expert. (100)
On Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) board sits Dr. James Campbell of Queen’s University’s Western Canada Division. From 2000 to 2003 he was a development director for Nature Conservancy Canada. Joining him on AWA’s board is retired prof and environmental specialist Dr. Herb Kariel who “maintains a number of affiliations and memberships in environmental organizations.” Also on AWA’s board are U of C’s Drs. Cliff Wallis and Owen McGoldrich. Wallis worked for Alberta Parks for years before setting up a consultancy specializing in audio-visual presentations. Wallis has been on AWA’s board since 1982, serving as president from 1992 to 2002, and presently as vice-president. He received awards from CPAWS, Nature Conservancy Canada and Defenders of Wildlife. On AWA’s staff is biologist Dr. Ian Urquhart who publishes their Wildlands Advocate. Urquhart is author of Assault on the Rockies; The Last Great Forest; and Costly Fix (oilsands). (101)
U of A Biology prof Dr. Ellie Prepas’ Forest Watershed and Riparian Disturbance group chronicles the negative impacts of timber harvesting. U of A’s Dr. Naomi Krogman directs the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance and is a member of Edmonton Chamber of Commerce’s Environmental Task Force. Colleague, Dr. Debra Davidson won TD’s Go Green Challenge.
Recycling Council of Alberta board member Sarah Begg is on Mount Royal U’s Enviro-Sci advisory committee and U of C’s solid waste advisory committee. Her full-time job is managing the Emerald award winning Clean Calgary Association.
U of A’s ALES Faculty runs the Ecosystem Management Emulation of Natural Disturbance. This consists of a 60-strong team of profs and grad students “striving to find the formula by which forest fibre production can fall within guidelines established by Mother Nature.” Other ALES projects partner with ENGOs to: help rural folk adapt to climate change, derive alternative energy from animal fat, and market organic products. ALES recently attracted $36 million in outside funding including money from the Scottish Forestry Trust.
U of C Environmental Design profs recently won acclaim for a report on bison conservation funded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Faculty then brought in an IUCN official to lecture on wildlife management. In 2010 an Enviro Design sponsored study on wolf genetics achieved wide media exposure.
Chair of Mount Royal’s Earth Sciences Department, Barbara McNichol is a former parks manager. Her academic specialty is population growth/commercialization’s impact on parks. She designed the curriculum.
Kings U’s Dr. John Wood is currently on sabbatical at the eco-Christian Au Sable Institute while their in-house enviro-sociologist, Dr. Randolph Haluzah-De Lay, basks in the praise arising from his groundbreaking Speaking for Ourselves: Environmental Justice in Canada.
This eco-academic-activist milieu is girded by ENGOs like: Alberta Lepidopterist’s Guild, Calgary Zoological Society, Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists, and Soil and Water Conservation Society. The “rabid moth enthusiasts” in the Lepidopterists Guild are mostly profs and wilderness-involved civil servants campaigning to protect bug habitat. Calgary Zoological Society monitors land conservancies and reintroduces species to the wild. Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists (CSEB) seeks to conserve natural resources via ecological methods. CSEB was founded by the Canadian Wildlife Service in 1958 as Canadian Society of Wildlife and Fisheries Biologists but changed its name in 1974 to incorporate the trendy “environmental” term and to welcome zoologists, limnologists, and botanists. CSEB members must have a biology degree and be employed in the field. US-based Soil and Water Conservation Society (est. 1943) represents the 7,000 conservation professionals currently implementing a “Beyond T” experiment in mass consensus building.
Miistakis Institute of the Rockies’ (MIR) board is dominated by U of C profs like Dr. Mike Quinn who co-chairs MIR and is their university liaison. Dr. Musiani sits on MIR’s board while teaching conservation biology and landscape ecology at the Environmental Design Faculty. Of the 15 students integrated into MIR, 13 are from Environmental Design. MIR is a key ENGO within Albertan environmentalism.
MIR has a staff of eight and draws annual revenues of about $700,000 from public and private sources and boasts partnerships with 76 organizations. Wilburforce Foundation is a reliable source of funds ($40,000 in 2008 and $25,000 in 2009) as is the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which bankrolls Crown Managers Partnership for which MIR functions as secretariat. (This Partnership unites 12 ENGOs fighting to conserve a 42,000 sq km chunk of western Alberta and Montana.) MIR is in the Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association and the North America Wetlands Management Program. In 2007 MIR reached out to movement allies concerned with land use policy. Consequently, a year later the following ENGOs agreed to collaborate with MIR regarding the province’s new Land Use Framework: Ecotrust Foundation, Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Water Matters, Tides Canada, CPAWS, Defenders of Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Federation of Alberta Naturalists, Alberta Stewardship Network, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, and Environmental Law Centre. (102)
Enviro-academic activism is not confined to science departments. The Parkland Institute is a research network in U of A’s Arts Faculty. Their publications are uniformly environmentalist, anti-oilsands, and anti-neo-liberalism (code for anti-capitalism.) (103)
(As an askance example of enviro appropriation of academia: Peter Robinson is chairman and chancellor of British Columbia’s 2,000-student Royal Roads University. Robinson is also president of the David Suzuki Foundation.) (104)
Environmentalism in Federal Government Operations in Alberta
Environmentalism is a “semi-institutionalized social movement”, meaning it is embedded into the state and uses state resources to grow. Imagine commandos boarding an enemy vessel by stealth then securing the vessel’s deck and engine room but not yet the captain’s bridge. Environmentalists are all over the federal ship of state but have yet to commandeer the vessel.
Of the hundreds of ministries, departments, and agencies accessible from the federal government’s A-to-Z Directory, 57 have an environmentalist bent. There is an online envirozine running articles like “Kiss me, I’m Eco-friendly” and imploring citizens to participate in Earth Hour. There is a Youth Roundtable on the Environment and an International Environmental Youth Corps. There is the august National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy. There is a Green Cover program helping farmers switch from grains to perennials and a Green Municipalities Fund offering $350,000 grants to cities. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is the nation’s leading purveyor of green propaganda. However, environmentalism’s real beachhead within the federal government is in these 12 overlapping entities: Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Species at Risk Public Registry, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife, National Research Council, Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, and Canadian Wildlife Service.
Canada is a Global Biological Information Survey member and a UN Convention on Biological Diversity signatory. Keeping such commitments forms the rationale behind the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility (CBIF). This gravy train for biologists plans to document Canada’s 150,000 species. Documented info currently exists on only 5% of these species. CBIF claims:
“Canadians need this information to make decisions regarding conservation, sustainable use and the management of endangered species.” (105)
The Species at Risk Public Registry helps implement the far-reaching agenda of the Species at Risk Act (SARA, 2003). To Registry eco-crats, “habitat loss due to development” is the leading cause of species endangerment and “stewardship” must be the first response to habitat loss. The Registry’s bureaucrats have decreed:
“All Canadians have a role to play in the protection of wildlife.” (106)
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COESWIC) originated in 1977 but rose to prominence only after the passage of SARA. If COESWIC declares a species “endangered” Environment Canada has 90 days to respond. If a species is listed on the “at risk” registry, a recovery plan must be implemented. Of COESWIC’s 31 directors: 13 are from provincial/territorial wildlife agencies, four are from federal agencies, and the rest are from universities and ENGOs. COESWIC’s vice-president is from Nature Conservancy Canada. COESWIC employs 101 Bio-Sci Ph.D.s. (107)
Founded in 1916, the National Research Council (NRC) now has 26 sub-departments and 4,280 employees. NRC is not entirely appropriated but greens are nestled into its Institute of Biological Sciences and into its sub-departments of Ocean Technology and Chemical Processes and Environmental Technology. Additionally, NRC’s Environment Sector contains several lesser groups involved in the “commercialization of environmental technology that addresses major environmental issues.” To fight climate change, NRC researches biofuels and hydrogen cells. One NRC group is seeking “greenalternatives to fossil fuels mainly from algae.” (108)
The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) was a love child of the “sustainabledevelopment” craze following the 1992 Earth Summit. In defining its purpose, CESD uses the phrase “sustainabledevelopment” 29 times on a single page. All federal ministries must have a sustainable development strategy and update this strategy every three years. Strategies and updates are reviewed by the CESD. (This function, since 2008, is duplicated by Environment Canada’s overarching Sustainable Development Strategy.) All federal ministries must respond to citizen petitions regarding environmental questions. CESD facilitates this petition process. A survey of the 292 petitions processed so far betrays a service used almost exclusively by ENGOs. (109)
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) was founded in 1995 after passage of unique enabling legislation. CEAA is accountable to Environment Canada but has some independence. CEAA is headquartered in Ottawa but maintains six regional offices including one in Edmonton. CEAA’s $37 million 2009 budget was topped up in 2010 to increase aboriginal consultation. (110)
CEAA can conduct several types of assessment on any proposed project having potential environmental impact where there is federal jurisdiction (fish habitat, Indian reserve, defence base, national park). There are dozens of CEAA assessments going on in Alberta at any given time.
CEAA hurls money at ENGOs. Its Participant Funding Program is accessible to any person or group having a local interest in a proposed project or environmental expertise or traditional aboriginal knowledge. To assess Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, CEAA awarded Forest Ethics $59,000, Living Oceans $91,000, Raincoast Conservation $83,000, and Nature Canada $47,000. Also for this assessment, CEAA spread $2.4 million around 38 First Nations. (They asked for $17 million.)
The Ministry of Canadian Heritage protects natural heritage by dispatching Parks Canada to ensure the “ecological integrity for future generations” of a far-flung empire of National Parks and Marine Conservation Areas. Alberta is home to four national parks: Banff (area 6,641 sq km), Elk Island (194 sq km), Jasper (10,880 sq km), and Waterton Lakes (525 sq km). Wood Buffalo National Park’s 44,840 sq km area spans the Alberta-Northwest Territory border but is mostly in Alberta. Parks Canada runs four National Historic Sites in Alberta (Banff Park Museum, Bar U Ranch, Cave and Basin, and Rocky Mountain House).
Parks Canada literature is deep green. The prefix “eco” appears several times a page. Policy is formulated by Canada Parks Council and partners: Society for Ecological Restoration International, US Parks Service, and various provincial counterparts. Their Bible, the neurotically repetitive Principles and Guidelines for Ecological Restoration in Canada’s Protected Areas, was written in 2007 by a committee representing 12 groups. The declared goal is “to improve ecological integrity in Canada’s natural areas” through “meaningful engagement of partners.” The concept “native biodiversity” is central. (111)
While not all Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) operations are co-opted, the trend is toward more enviro-movement appropriation. Canmet is a case in point. Beginning in 1907 as the Fuel Testing Division to facilitate exploitation of coal reserves, its name was changed to Canadian Centre for Minerals and Energy Technology (Canmet) in 1975. It now employs 450 scientists, engineers, and technicians on research bestriding the utilitarian-ecologist divide. Much Canmet research focuses on wind and solar power. Canmet’s operations near Edmonton employ 130 people researching alternative fuels and related enviro-technologies, especially regarding oilsands. (112)
NRCan is in charge of the Climate Energy Fund, which in Alberta pipes $100s of millions into carbon capture and storage (CCS). NRCan’s ecoEnergy Technology Initiative also funds CCS.
NRCan’s ecoEnergy for Renewable Power Program spent $1.5 billion subsidizing wind power, biomass energy, and low-impact hydro. This program met its target of supporting the development of 4,000 megawatts of green electricity. All wind farm construction in Alberta after 2007 was partly funded by this program. Developers could “stack” multiple government subsidies up to 75% of total project costs.
NRCan’s ecoEnergy Efficiency Initiative and its ecoEnergy Retrofit programs provide a host of incentives and rebates. Albertan beneficiaries include: CO2 Reduce, Edmonton; a Medicine Hat subdivision which got solar-powered water heaters; and various Albertans who received rebates for low-flush toilets.
NRCan supervises the century-old Canadian Forest Service (CFS) – a conflicted agency balancing industry needs with cries for “biodiversity and sustainability”. While CFS literature is steeped in enviro-propaganda, they concede that deforestation in Canada is negligible and does not result from logging because harvested forests are re-planted. Of Canada’s 4 million sq km of forestlands, only 500 sq km are deforested each year – half for farmland on the Prairies. Nevertheless, CFS is committed to minimizing deforestation and justifies this with references to climate change. CFS’s Northern Forest Centre in Edmonton employs 99 civil servants – 17 with job descriptions mentioning “ecology” or “climate change”. (113)
Some Fisheries and Oceans Canada (FOC) operations, like the Coast Guard, have little environmentalist motive, and FOC’s mandate to maintain profitable fisheries conflicts with environmentalism. FOC is surprisingly open-minded regarding fish farms. On the other hand, FOC’s Fish Resource Conservation Council and Fish Habitat Management Program are seriously committed to “sustainable development”. FOC funds conservationism and enforces stifling enviro-regulations. (114)
The 1868 Fisheries Act prohibited damage to fish habitat. The Act’s 1932 amendments added measures to improve fish-ways for migratory fish. 1976 amendments transformed FOC into a proactive environmental police force. Any potentially harmful alteration of fish habitat anywhere in Canada requires FOC permission. These powers were interpreted broadly by the 1986 Management of Fish Habitat Policy and were fortified by the Canadian Environmental Assessment and Species at Risk acts.
FOC’s Fish Habitat Management Program has 65 offices including ones at Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, and Peace River. FOC does its own investigation and enforcement. An example of FOC in action was the penalty levied on Wilco Landscape Corp in 2009 for harmful alteration of fish habitat. For removing vegetation near the Elbow River, Wilco was fined $95,000 and ordered to do restorative work. $75,000 of Wilco’s fine went to Trout Unlimited Canada and $20,000 went to Elbow River Watershed Partnership pursuant to the Environmental Damages Fund. FOC enforcement activities in Alberta often target oil companies, municipalities, and livestock operations.
On March 26, 2007 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by FOC’s Deputy Minister and the presidents of: Canadian Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada, Trout Unlimited Canada, and National Watershed Stewardship Coalition. The Memorandum creates a FOC-ENGO steering committee to manage fish habitat. Signatories conference annually.
To control oilsands producers’ access to the Athabasca River, FOC partnered with Alberta Environment and ENGOs to create the Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA). FOC’s goal going into CEMA was to protect the river’s “ecologicalintegrity”. CEMA designates three levels of river flow – green, yellow, and red – with the latter signalling a need for tightened restrictions. Fortunately, the trifling amount of Athabasca River water currently diverted by oilsands producers keeps flow in the green level, but as production increases so will demand for water.
(CEMA remade itself in 2010 after Pembina Institute, Toxics Watch, Fort McMurray Environmental Association, and Chipewyan First Nation quit in protest. The new CEMA has 16 members: 4 from industry, 4 from government, 4 from ENGOs, and 4 from native groups. Pembina and Toxics Watch continue to shun CEMA. They insist CEMA should be given veto powers over oilsands projects.)
FOC is involved in the Canadian Stewardship Agenda and Canadian Biodiversity Strategy. FOC educates the public with its ‘Big Blue Bus’ website and brainwashes kids with its Water Wizards Club.
In 1971 Environment Canada (EC) took over the 100-year-old Meteorological Service and 24-year-old Canadian Wildlife Service. EC aims to make sustainable development a reality in Canada by preserving nature, conserving resources, coordinating government enviro-policies, and forecasting the weather. Regarding the latter, the Meteorological Service, having been inducted into the global warming campaign, now predicts weather a century into the future and monitors CO2 emissions. (115)
Of EC’s 6,000 employees, 2,100 are in Ottawa. (Five hundred are in its Prairie-Northern Region.) EC supports 350 environmental technology projects, 250 citizen-led initiatives, and has published 700 peer-reviewed scientific papers. EC works with hundreds of ENGOs, dozens of government departments, and several UN agencies (mainly UNEP and Commission on Sustainable Development).
EC runs Community Action Program for the Environment (CAPE) except for its Aboriginal Species at Risk unit, which they co-manage with Indian and Northern Affairs and FOC. (Much CAPE funding goes to aboriginals.) CAPE gives ENGOs grants of up to $100,000. Calgary’s Two Wheel View received a CAPE grant to foster environmental awareness among school kids. Bow Valley Climate Kids (a spin-off from Biosphere Institute of Bow Valley) got a CAPE grant to have adolescents make videos about global warming. Clean Calgary won a CAPE grant to promote low-flow shower heads.
EC leads the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP). Of the $180 million Budget 2000 set aside to protect species at risk, $45 million endowed HSP. The program grew. HSP has distributed $62 million to over 1,000 projects and now disburses $10 million a year. HSP funds “stewards” who protect habitat. By leveraging $153 million in private funds, HSP has enclosed 2,400 sq km of habitat.
EC’s Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) manages nationally important wildlife habitat. This labour-intensive endeavour requires indentifying ecologically important areas, monitoring migratory populations, diagnosing ecosystem health, and developing species recovery plans. CWS has a jurisdictionally induced fetish for border-crossing animals.
CWS is an activist organization. According to their history: “By the 1960s and 1970s significant wildlife habitat, particularly wetlands, was being lost at an alarming rate.” CWS and allies responded by pushing through the Canada Wildlife Act in 1973, then amending it in 1994 to include National Wildlife Areas. (Three of Alberta’s four National Wildlife Areas are small, but Suffield covers 458 sq km.) CWS’s annual bird survey mobilizes thousands of naturalists. CWS-led activism created numerous Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (four in Alberta). Their 1988 Prairie Conservation Plan, written by WWF Canada and endorsed by all provincial Environment Ministers, incorporates ENGOs into governance. CWS developed and promoted COESWIC and SARA.
Other EC operations include: Environmental Technology Advancement Directorate, Water Survey of Canada, and National Water Research Institute. The latter employs 300 aquatic ecologists, environment modellers, environmental chemists, and “experts at linking water science to environment policy.”
The Environmental Movement inside the Government of Alberta
The Government of Alberta contains two rival governments representing conflicting economic constituencies with incompatible ideas of progress. The main government represents the cities, the resource-based industries, and the agricultural sector’s modernizing wing. The rival government represents the international environmental movement and its natural provincial allies: declining rural towns, small farmers and grazers, and the wilderness industries (hunting, trapping, and eco-tourism). The environmental movement’s state-within-a-state is entrenched in four ministries (Environment; Sustainable Resource Development; Tourism, Recreation and Parks; and Agriculture, Food and Rural Development). The movement also successfully targets public-input processes of several government panels. Finally, whereas the Alberta Energy Ministry is far from movement-appropriated, it has been partially co-opted into the global warming campaign.
Municipal governments also subsidize and empower eco-activism. Projects like the City of Calgary’s Ecological Footprint Team abound. Calgary plans to convert all city services to wind power. City of Edmonton’s public works department celebrates Earth Day and the city’s Natural Areas Advisory Committee welcomes ENGO involvement in land-use planning. Edmonton runs child environmental awareness, and adult enviro-steward, programs. The Capital Region Wastewater Commission is adopting biofuel technologies. Red Deer and Camrose both operate sustainable agriculture programs. Camrose promotes wildlife stewardship. Red Deer has a conservation coordinator.
The Alberta Environment Ministry (AE) seeks to “steward and protect Alberta’s environment to sustain diverse ecosystems.” AE’s 950 employees are spread over 120 communities. AE is also responsible for the Environmental Appeals Board and three recycling authorities. (116)
AE divides annual expenditures of $333 million (2009) between: Safeguarding Public and Environmental Health ($186 million), Critical Regulatory and Infrastructure ($116 million), and Leading and Enabling Environmental Stewards ($30 million). This last category is subdivided into: Environmental Stewardship ($8 million), Educational Awareness ($6 million) and Water for Life ($15 million). (2010 saw a 10% cross the board cut.)
AE’s 2009 Annual Report reflects on environmentalism’s evolution in Alberta:
“Environmental management has gone through great changes in the last 40 years. We evolved from concentrating on specific spills and releases in our environment to proactively managing facilities and the activities and now we are evolving to concentrate on the environment as a whole.”
The buzz phrase for this new holistic approach is “cumulative effects management”. The Report calls for a “cumulative effects management system in the Industrial Heartland” (north of Edmonton).
An Environmental Appeal Board (EAB) reviews AE decisions. A frequent cause of appeals is water licence approvals. AE bureaucrats set Conservation Objectives to ensure “in stream flow needs” are sufficient to protect “ecosystem health”. The premise is wilderness rights to water. EAB appeals are also launched pursuant to the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and Climate Change and Emissions Management Act. EAB hears complaints about reclamation certificates, administrative penalties, enforcement orders, etc., and by emphasizing mediation, makes about 20 decisions a year. EAB’s “impartial professionals” include: a director of the Biosphere Institute of Bow Valley (fighters for ecological integrity), a UBC Institute of Resource Ecology Ph.D. graduate currently preaching Enviro-Sci at Lethbridge U, and a Ph.D. Enviro-Scientist formerly with the Canadian Wildlife Service.
AE participates in numerous eco-activist joint ventures. Some of the $250,000 AE gave Alberta Stewardship Network in 2009 to set up stewardship groups went to publishing Awareness to Action – an exposé of 15 enviro-activist triumphs. Buffalo Lake Management Team, founded by AE in 1991 to monitor environmental mitigation, now promotes wind power. AE’s “strategic conservations” with land trusts culminated in the November 2006 launch of Alberta Land Trust Alliance (with a $300,000 start-up grant). AE-funded One Simple Act is a crew of “young energetic individuals” who travel Alberta in hybrid cars promoting reusable shopping bags, proper tire pressure, and global warming propaganda. AE’s Triple StaRs Challenge teaches the Three Rs (reduce recycle reuse) at elementary schools. AE’s largest ENGO project, the Water for Life quango, was set afloat in 2003.
The Water for Life Action Plan (2009) sets a goal of addressing “aquaticecosystemdegradation” through increased bio-data collection, expanded public awareness, and cumulative effects management. The culprits responsible for aquatic degradation are economic growth and population growth. Alberta’s water supply is ludicrously described as scarce. Watersheds are defined as any area of land catching precipitation and draining it into any body of water. Common nouns for bodies of water, such as lake or river, are displaced by “aquatic ecosystem”, which appears up to ten times a page.
A companion document, Enabling Partnerships, plots how ENGOs and rural landowners are to be marshalled in the march to sustainability. The two top tenets of Water for Life are spelled out as:
“Albertans must recognize there are limits to the availability of water supply.”
“Alberta’s water must be managed within the physical limitations and supplies available to individual watersheds.”
Thus Water for Life’s primary mission is to prevent Albertans from even thinking about major water transfers. Solutions are narrowed to conservation.
Water for Life is an organizational pyramid. Local citizen auxiliaries, Watershed Stewardship Groups (WSGs), guard each aquatic ecosystem. WSGs cooperate with larger ENGOs in recruiting local landowners and aboriginals. WSGs raise awareness through: riparian health assessments, education field days, and habitat research programs. AE assists WSGs with information, grants, and technical support.
Unlike many of the WSGs they supervise, Watershed Plan Advisory Committees (WPACs) are registered non-profit societies. WPACs partner with ENGOs with whom they author “State of our Watershed” reports accompanied by draft watershed plans. WPACs lobby governments to endorse these plans and also undertake public education operations. There are 9 functioning WPACs and more under construction. AE funds and assigns staff to WPACs but WPACs determine their own strategies and relationships. WPACs deploy consensus decision-making.
At the pyramid’s apex sits Alberta Water Council (AWC), chaired by an AE Assistant Deputy Minister. AE appoints all 24 AWC board members including one rep from each of the oil, irrigation, cattle, forestry and mining industries. AWC board also has reps from Ducks Unlimited Canada, Fish Habitat Conservation Collective, Alberta Lake Management Society, Alberta Wilderness Association, Sierra Club Canada, WPAC Collective and Environment Law Centre. Decisions are made by consensus.
AWC’s recent Strengthening Partnerships renews the commitment to consensus and criticizes unnamed members (industry) for lobbying the government directly. Strengthening Partnerships calls for “shared governance” of water policy between the Water for Life conglomerate and the government.
A tempest erupted in April 2010 after a draft government oilsands paper disregarded the “no net loss of wetlands” policy. A furious Sierra Club spokesperson complained Water for Life advisories were being ignored. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers countered they could accept restoring wetlands of exceptional value but that “no net loss” was prohibitively expensive. (117)
Water for Life’s “shared governance” agenda is trickling through the government. In April 2010 Auditor General Merwan Saher acknowledged public frustration over the fact that water license applications were taking an unconscionable several years to process. His solution: the government share more responsibility with Ducks Unlimited. (118) In May 2010 the province announced new building codes to promote using rainwater to flush toilets. The new codes accommodate Water for Life’s demand that water use be made 30% more efficient. (119)
The Ministry of Sustainable Resources Development (MSRD) employs 2,000 people over 5 departments and several agencies. MSRD fights forest fires, oversees forest harvesting and manages public lands. MSDR collects $150 to $200 ml a year in timber royalties, grazing dispositions and hunting/angling licence sales. Annual expenditures are around $400 ml. (120)
In 2008 MSDR launched “My Wild Alberta” – a new process for issuing hunting and angling licences. 238,000 licence applications were received in 2009. Deeming hunting and fishing to be wildlife management tools MSRD delegates some of its responsibilities, with funds, to Alberta Conservation Association, Forest Resources Improvement Association and Professional Outfitter’s Society. MSRD spends $30 ml a year enforcing wildlife regulations.
MSRD thwarts development of forage lands ostensibly on behalf of livestock graziers but MSRD also restricts their access to forage to feed wildlife. Their Rangeland Management Branch’s mission to “sustain and conserve healthy rangeland ecosystems that maintain diversity” manifests in parsimonious allocations of grazing dispositions. In 2008-9 6,000 grazing dispositions were issued equalling 1.7 ml animal unit months. Alberta is home to several million head of cattle. Rangeland Management Branch partners with ENGOs like Cows & Fish.
Alberta’s forest industry is a $7 billion a year affair employing 38,000. MSRD’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Fund, financed by timber royalties, is mainly concerned with fighting forest fires but also supports “forest health initiatives” such as feeding and fencing wildlife. Last year $55 ml went to fighting the Mountain Pine Beetle; bringing total expenditures of fighting the infestation to $270 ml. MSRD partners with Tree Canada to replace trees on private and municipal land destroyed by the Mountain Pine Beetle. Another MSRD green initiative gave 15 grants totalling $50 ml to forest companies to create bio-energy from wood waste. The federal government subsidizes this program.
MSRD bureaucrats complain bio-diversity is “largelyunappreciated and misunderstood.” MSRD was among 8 ministries signing the 2008 Biodiversity Action Plan. MSDR gives Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute over $4 ml a year.
MSRD implements species-at-risk recovery programs. This endeavour deploys recovery teams for each of the following: Burrowing Owl, Grizzly Bear, Northern Leopard Frog, Ord’s Kangaroo Rat, Peregrine Falcon, Piping Plover, Sage Grouse, Shortjaw Cisco, Soapweed, Yucca Moth, Swift Fox, Trumpeter Swan, Western Blue Flag, Woodland Caribou, Western Slivery Minnow, Stonecat, St Mary Sculpin, and Western Spiderwort. MSRD also eradicates invasive species.
MSRD’s Endangered Species Conservation Committee (ESCC) has reps from the cattle, oil, and forest industries but is dominated by reps from Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Fish and Game Association, Alberta Native Plant Council, Federation of Alberta Naturalists et al.
MSRD’s official line is “grizzlies must remain a vital part of Alberta’s heritage and landscape.” ESCC has publically called for designating the grizzly as “threatened” since 2002. Such a designation has profound implications for resource extraction, ranching and hunting.
To resolve disputes over the size of the grizzly population MSDR contracted Foothills Research Institute to do a DNA study of the bears. They concluded there were 691 grizzlies in Alberta; 375 of breeding age. Shortly thereafter (June 2010) MSRD Minister Mel Knight declared the grizzly “threatened.” Part of his reckoning was “scientists would like a breeding population of about 1,000.” (One MSRD official is on record as believing Alberta’s grizzly population is increasing.) (121)
Another instance of “shared governance” is MSRD’s Land Use Framework (LUF). Launched in 2008 LUF envisions seven regions and seven strategies. Regions correspond to river basins. Strategies are the same for each region: (a) create regional land use plans (b) create regional councils (c) deploy cumulative effects management (d) promote conservation and stewardship (e) reduce Albertan’s environmental footprint (f) establish monitoring systems and (g) increase Aboriginal/Métis involvement.
A Land Use Secretariat is providing leadership to embryonic regional advisory councils. The Secretariat helped pass a Land Stewardship Act (2009) loaded with environmental objectives and references to “sustainable development.”
MSRD’s handling of the Cougar Rock resort illustrates a government at cross purposes with itself. Investors from Hinton and Yellowhead County, taking the government at its word about diversification and tourism, planned a resort (Cougar Rock) complete with hotels, casino, spa, golf course and time-share condos. MSRD bureaucrats told them outright they intended to be “anal” about access to public land. By insisting infrastructure be built in advance of any land grant, and by demanding ever more onerous reclamation plans, MSRD bureaucrats killed Cougar Rock. Locals are out $5 ml. (122)
82,000 square kilometres, 12% of Alberta, is park. (This does not include urban parks or private conservancies.) The 5 National Parks and 4 National Wildlife Areas managed by Parks Canada account for two thirds of this parkland. The other third consists of 530 provincial parks and protected areas managed by the Ministry of Tourism, Parks and Recreation (MTPR). (123)
In these straightened times MTPR divides $176 ml over 5 departments (Parks, Travel Alberta, Recreation, Tourism and Support Services). This is down from 2008-9 when MTRP lavished $126 ml on Parks alone to preserve “natural landscapes and features, ecosystems and ecological processes, biological diversity and related cultural attributes.” A single $54 million grant went to the Capital Region River Valley Park. The banner years were 2000-2001 when 81 parks and protected areas spanning 20,000 sq km were designated.
To inventory Ecologically Sensitive Areas MTPR employs enviro-profs to “enhance the scientific knowledge that would support the preservation of Alberta’s natural heritage.” MTPR funds the Natural Heritage Information Centre (“Alberta’s biodiversity data base”) and coordinates provincial involvement with the Canadian Heritage River Program. MTPR’s Volunteer Steward Program dispatches stewards to protected areas to install bird houses, repair fences and distribute interpretive brochures. Stewards are supplied with identification badges and stacks of the Partners in Preservation newsletter.
Among the 9 Acts administered by MTPR are Provincial Parks Act and Wilderness Areas, Ecological Reserves, Natural Areas, and Heritage Rangeland Act. These Acts (plus Willmore Wilderness Act) create 8 classes of protected land.
“Ecological Reserves” are so fragile they are best set aside for conservation biologists. The reserves have few roads and no more will be built. They are open to the public only for low impact activities like photography. 15 Ecological Reserves cover 260 sq km.
More restricted are 3 “Wilderness Areas.” They are accessible only by foot. Horses are prohibited. Hunting is prohibited. The destruction of any plant is prohibited. Wilderness Areas cover 1,010 sq km.
32 “Wildland Parks” cover 17,000 sq km. Camping and backpacking are permitted. Some have trails for off-road vehicles and snowmobiles, albeit strictly policed. A similar regime governs the 850 sq km Willmore Wilderness Park.
75 “Provincial Parks” cover 2,190 sq km. They have roads and facilities and allow a range of activities.
229 “Recreational Areas” cover 850 sq km, usually around lakes. Their purpose is to localize outdoor recreation hence lessen exploration of surrounding lands.
“Natural Areas” are similar to Recreational Areas but have fewer facilities, usually only a parking lot and foot trail. 143 Natural Areas cover 1,300 sq km.
“Heritage Rangelands” are restricted to traditional grazing. Limited recreation is allowed with leaseholder consent. There are two Heritage Rangelands: Black Creek Ranch (40 sq km) and OH Ranch (80 sq km). Six ranches have applied for Heritage Rangeland status. OH Ranch, an hour’s drive south of Calgary, achieved its status in 2009.
Also in 2009 MTRP roped off the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park to protect the “spectacular” real estate on the northern shore of the Bow River near Calgary.
In the same year MTPR kicked-off Travel Alberta Corp to “contribute to Alberta’s success as a heritage-based national and international tourist destination.” Part of Travel Alberta’s mission is to convince Albertans of the great economic significance of nature tourism. They guesstimate tourism’s gross value at $5.8 bl a year then link this inflated figure to the idea that “one of our greatest attractions is our tremendous range of natural spaces.” Actual tourism receipts are a fraction of this amount and are overwhelmingly collected in cities.
In 2010 MTPR proposed legislation to implement their 10 Year Plan for protected areas. The Plan, drafted in collaboration with Aboriginals and ENGOs, claims to balance conservation with recreation. Also in 2010 MTPR closed 239 campsites and converted many others to ‘day use only.’ These changes were rationalized by conceding that few people ever go to these places.
Some lands protected after 1995 carried existing commitments to oil and gas reserves. Alberta honours pre-existing commitments except in Ecological Reserves, Wilderness Areas and Willmore Wilderness Park where no working of minerals is permitted.
A September 10, 2003 Information Letter headed “Honouring Existing Mineral Commitments” and signed by multiple Deputy Ministers states:
“As the mineral resources associated with existing commitments inside protected areas is developed and depleted over time, it is expected that protected areas will eventually contain no mineral commitments.”
The letter makes clear that no new drilling or mining will be allowed in any park or protected area and that all existing operations therein must be wound down with special care. (124)
Several “Boards” have become arenas for environmental movement agitation. The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) is quasi-judicial agency founded in 1991 to regulate non-energy resource projects (forestry, recreation, mining and water). Appointments to NRCB are made by Cabinet on MSRD recommendation. NRCB’s 43 employees hold hearings; make decisions, then issue approvals and compliance orders etc. NCRB has completed 14 major reviews of proposed resource projects. They are currently reviewing a proposed sulphur plant being tied up by ENGOs in Lamont County. NRCB is officially committed to sustainable development.
Livestock operators wishing to build a confined feedlot operation (CFO) must apply to NRCB for a permit. NRCB considers the environmental, economic and land use propriety of each request to ensure the industry grows in an “environmentally responsible manner.” NRCB entertains hundreds of complaints each year about CFOs. A recurring phobia is that CFO manure contaminates aquifers but there little basis for this belief. 287 CFOs installed leak detection equipment due to such fears. (125)
MSRD’s Surface Rights Board (SRB) received 898 complaints in 2008-9. Because a record 403 went to the hearing stage SRB hired 6 more staff to develop a non-hearing dispute resolution system. The surge in hearings arose from rural landowners demanding more money from oil and gas companies for access to their land. (The provincial government owns 80% of Alberta’s minerals including those under private property.) SRB’s current Vice Chair was for 30 years an ENGO consultant. (126)
Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) regulates natural gas and electrical markets and determines the siting of transmission lines, power plants and gas pipelines. AUC’s siting hearings have been politicized by enviro-activists.
Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) is the quasi-judicial agency regulating the oil, gas and coal industries. Because ERCB approval is required at every step of an energy project’s life ECRB receives thousands of applications, and holds scores of public hearings, every year. ERCB courted controversy in April 2010 by approving two previously rejected Syncrude tailings pond plans. Since 2009, due to ENGO pressure, ERCB is supposed to accept only tailing pond plans that envision converting the pond to solid ground within five years of the mine’s closure. Pembina Institute claims 7 of 9 existing tailing ponds do not meet the new standards. Pembina demanded ECRB reject Syncrude’s plans. (Tailings ponds are a cause celebre for environmentalists and their media allies who invariably exaggerate pond size and toxicity. Total pond area is about 150 sq k. The main “toxic” content in ponds is clay.) ERCB also drew criticism from ENGOs and the media in June 2010 for approving a gas project on the eastern slopes of the southern Rockies. This decision came after a three year struggle with environmentalists, climaxing in three months of public hearings. (127)
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development preserves uneconomic farms and towns in order to protect the “many Albertans (who) have not shared in growth.” This constituency is threatened by farm consolidation, agricultural industrialization and urbanization. This billion-dollar-a-year preservation effort has conjured dozens of programs with green rationales. (128)
Rural Alberta Development Fund was endowed with $100 ml in 2005 and has since spent $68.7 ml on 60 projects. Its priorities are: environmental stewardship, Aboriginal support and capacity building.
Wildlife Damage Compensation pays farmers for crops eaten by ungulates and waterfowl. The program allows payments of up to $5,000 per inspection. This is not an insurance plan. The farmer pays no premium. Another program compensates ranchers for livestock eaten by wolves. MSRD pays farmers to allow hunting on their land.
Much effort goes into persuading farmers not to clear clumps of trees from their land. Programs seek to re-educate farmers into viewing uncleared bush not as lost revenue but as valuable “woodlot” assets. Started in 2008, Webberville Community Forest now covers 45,000 acres – 60% on private land. This “capacity building” project plants trees, builds trails and instils ecological ideals. Ducks Unlimited Canada et al are involved.
Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture (ASEA) entices farmers into adopting green practises. ASEA’s Rural Extension Staff work across Alberta inside ENGOs and municipal governance bodies with job titles like: Research Coordinator of the Central Peace Conservation Society; Watershed Coordinator of Grande Prairie; and Forage Technician for the Grey Wooded Forage Association. Other common job descriptions are: conservation technician, conservation coordinator and conservation specialist.
MULTISAR is a province-funded “multiple species management project” in the Milk River area. MULTISAR helps landowners conserve species at risk. Landowners are encouraged to work with Alberta Conservation Association (ACA). MULTISAR’s contact person is an ACA wildlife technician.
Similar programs include: Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Program, Operation Grassland Habitat, Landowner Recognition Habitat Program, Parkland Stewardship Program and Partners in Habitat Development. These programs all date to the late 1980s, all keep farmland out of production, and all are joint ventures with ENGOs.
Agriculture Operation Practices Act (2002) is aimed at confining confined feedlot operations. The Act does not apply to grazing operations. Land extensive agricultural practises are given free range. Land intensive practices are penned in.
A provincial plan, announced in 2006, provides infrastructure grants to the biofuel (ethanol) industry. This climate change effort is also co-defined as “rural community development.” This perverse, federally assisted, program sees to it that a substantial amount of Alberta’s food harvest is purchased pursuant to government diktat then burned as fuel.
The exact quantum of cash moving from the provincial treasury to ENGOs is incalculable. Buried within the Treasury Board’s 416 page “Blue Book” (March 31, 2009) are the following grants: Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute ($4.2 ml), Clean Air Strategic Alliance ($2.6 ml), Alberta Conservation Association ($75,000), Alberta Ecotrust Foundation ($55,000), Alberta Emerald Foundation ($15,000 X 2), Alberta Stewardship Network Society ($250,000), Alberta Wilderness Association ($8,797), Battle River Watershed Alliance ($187,450), Clean Power Coalition ($735,000), Central Peace Conservation Society ($70,500), Changing Climate Voice ($155,176), Ecotrust Canada ($20,000), Evergreen Theatre ($69,014), Foothills Model Forest ($1.1 ml), Going Organic Network ($38,500), Green Alberta ($32,548), Green Learning Academy ($371,173), Grey Wooded Forage Association ($51,370), Inside Education ($165,000), Lac La Nonne Watershed Stewardship Society ($14,850), Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observation Society ($77,000), Lesser Slave Lake Forest Education Society ($10,000), Lesser Slave Lake Watershed Council ($140,000), Medicine Hat Fish and Game Association ($55,000), Miistakis Institute of the Rockies ($173,656), Milk River Watershed Council ($127,000), Northern Care ($70,000), Oldman Watershed Council ($231,000), Paddle Association of Canada ($135,000), Palliser Airshed Society ($54,547), Parkland Conservation Farm Association ($51,000), Pembina Institute ($200,000) Red Deer River Watershed Alliance Society ($324,500). There are also many grants of under $10,000. (129)
This is not a complete list of major enviro-grants. In some instances, certainly regarding the Alberta Conservation Association, the above grants supplement larger blocks of funding from the provincial government. While most of MTRP’s Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation (ASRPWF) $20 ml annual grants budget goes to sports programs, ASRPWF also owns 21 conservancies and seeks to expand this portfolio by issuing tax receipts to land donors. To manage these properties ASRPWF partners with Ducks Unlimited Canada, Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Fish and Game Association, Land Stewardship Centre Canada, This Living World-Nature Trust, Nature Conservancy Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service. ASPRWF’s Future Leaders program provides enviro-opportunities for Aboriginal youth. ASPRWF funds Watershed Stewardship Groups and wildlife-defending ENGOs. ^ In addition Alberta Lottery Fund (revenue $1.3 bl) is not a major ENGO funder but did disburse $500,000 to “environmental education” last year. (Aboriginals groups got $200 ml.) Finally, the Blue Book also lists a number of large grants to alternative energy companies that are not part of the province’s big three “climate change” funds.
The Conference Board of Canada estimates the Alberta Government will spend $6 bl on green energy infrastructure over the next decade. This is more than will be spent by all other provinces combined. (130)
In 1999 an assemblage called the Climate Change Round Table formed the non-profit Climate Change Central (CCC). In 2000 CCC moved into a new and very green office building. Adorning CCC’s board are: a farmer active in the Alberta Sustainable Agriculture Council; an employee of the Canadian Green Building Council; Senator Elaine McCoy (a player in Calgary’s enviro-philanthropic community); and Paul Griss (18 years in conservation/environment management).
The province gives CCC $30 ml a year. CCC installed 20 solar panels on government buildings where they would be visible to the public. The panels on the Legislature can power up to 70 light bulbs for up to five hours on a sunny day! CCC subsidizes hybrid vehicle use, biomass energy, micro-fuel cells and eco-friendly consumer products. CCC helped found carbon offset specialists, C3 Envirotech Inc, who later landed a $2 ml federal government grant. CCC gave $2 ml to trucking companies to make trucks more aerodynamic.
Climate Change and Emission Management Fund revenues are treated as AE budget revenues but are earmarked for the Climate Change Emission Management Corporation (CCEMC). These revenues are a tax on companies emitting more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. These 100 companies (mostly oil sands producers and coal-fired generators) buy credits at $15 per tonne of CO2. In its first year, 2007, the Fund took in $47.8 ml. The Fund collected $82.3 ml in 2008 and $85.3 ml in 2009.
CCEMC Chairman, Eric Newall, is a former Syncrude CEO. After receiving “expressions of interest” from 223 companies Newall ladled out $71 ml in June 2010. Enmax got $14.5 ml to subsidize solar power and wind power kits for 9,000 Enmax customers. CCEMC gave Red Deer-based Plasco $10 ml for a waste-to-energy generator. Suncor/Nexen got $16.5 ml for an enhanced solvent extraction process. ECB North America was given $8.2 ml for a bio-cogeneration facility. Enerken Edmonton got $1.8 for work on biofuel and CO2 utilization. (131)
The $2 bl Carbon Capture and Sequestration Fund is steered by the Carbon Capture and Storage Development Council (CCSDC) who aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 200 megatonnes by 2050. 70% of this reduction is to be achieved through carbon capture and storage (CCS). Former Syncrude President, Jim Carter, manages CCSDC. The $2 bl is already divided, but not disbursed, among 4 projects: Swan Hills Synfuels ($285 ml); Enhance Energy’s Alberta Carbon Trunk Line ($495 ml); Shell Canada’s Quest Project ($795 ml); and TransAlta’s Project Pioneer ($436 ml). (Dollar sums refer to CCSDC contribution only not overall project cost nor total subsidy. Many will receive federal subsidies.) Budget 2010 directs Alberta Energy to disburse $100 ml in actual dollars toward these projects. (132)
CCS boosters do not talk “global warming.” They stress the equally questionable enhanced oil recovery capabilities of CCS. Cheerleader Ian Macgregor (Enhance Energy) claims CCS will revive 77 depleted oil fields in the Edmonton-Red Deer-Lacombe area. Estimates of how much additional oil may be tapped using CCS vary from 500 ml to 2 bl barrels. (133)
Environmentalists are inflicting egregious harm on Alberta’s electrical policy.
Alberta must double electrical output by 2030. Current generating capacity is approximately 13,000 Mega-watts (MW). Coal-fired plants generate 6,000 MW; natural gas ones: 5,150 MW; wind farms: 650 MW; biomass: 300 MW and hydro-electric: 900 MW.
200 electricity generators compete to supply a market through a government managed grid. Coal-fired plants are the low cost producers and the most reliable. Giant coal-fired facilities at Sundance, Keephills and Genesee are ready to meet bumps in demand over 90% of the time. Notoriously erratic wind power actually declined 30% in 2009 despite an increase in turbines. Coal prices are stable. Natural gas prices fluctuate wildly.
Of the 2 trillion tonnes of coal under Alberta 600 billion are considered ultimately recoverable. Alberta’s coal mines have a combined annual output of 40 million tonnes. Do the math, coal is inexhaustible.
Since 1998 100 generators have been built or upgraded. Most new projects are gas or wind powered.
The 20 wind farms completed since 1998 have a maximum combined capacity of 600 MW. The Sundance coal-fired plant alone generates 2,126 MW.
There are another 4,000 MW of wind farms planned for Alberta. Transmission lines costing billions of dollars must be built to move this wind power to market. Coal-fired plants are close to market.
Alberta could easily meet future electrical demand by adding new coal-fired plants or by increasing capacity of existing coal-fired plants but as power executives freely acknowledge the plans have neither low prices nor reliability as goals.
The only reason why Alberta is not staying with coal is because of the global warming hoax.
Missing from the above essay is a section on the media – a topic too complex to be confined to several paragraphs. Only a tiny fraction of the media product consumed by Albertans is created by Alberta-based enterprises; most is imported from national and international enterprises. Environmentalism’s unwarranted influence in the media is not a provincial tale. Additionally, while this essay was being written Alberta’s two most influential newspapers, Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal, both blatantly pro-environmentalist, came under new ownership. The new owners, Post Media, are uniquely critical of environmentalist claims and policies. Hence the environmentalism-in-Alberta’s-media story is undergoing unpredictable change.
The environmental movement in Alberta is a conglomeration with a nucleus of philanthropic-funded ENGOs headquartered outside Alberta. Bonded to this nucleus are dozens of government agencies, corporate divisions, and university departments. Around them are the movement’s “built constituencies”: the green industries of alternative energy, organic foods, recycling, ecotourism, etc. Cumulatively, Alberta’s ENGOs have a paid staff numbering in the hundreds and an annual budget in the $10s of millions. Cumulatively, the enviro-government agencies and movement-built constituencies in Alberta employ several thousand and have annual revenues in the high $100s of millions.
This organizational field is not a conventional political party; however, it is political and cohesive. If the ENGOs alone were forged into a party it would be larger than all other Alberta parties combined. However, as elsewhere, the main movement strategy is not to become an official party so as to better pressure and infiltrate established parties.
All Alberta parties, including the long-governing Tories, embrace environmentalism. The official opposition Liberal Party is deeply committed to green politics. The NDP tries to out-green them. Even the upstart Wildrose Alliance veered sharply toward “green conservatism”. The uniform strategy is not to defend Albertan’s industrialists from the environmentalists but to pose as judicious referees between these contestants. This strategy champions the throwing of billion-dollar hobbling chains, such as carbon-neutral electricity and waterless-oilsands production, onto Alberta’s most promising enterprises. Complicity in underdevelopment betrays a colonial mentality.
In Alberta, as elsewhere, environmentalism is not a new social movement but an old social movement adept at re-inventing itself in the public mind. Settlement in Alberta was actively discouraged by the British government through the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1670 to 1870, after which time a faction within the federal government took up the Cause. Alberta struggled to become a province in 1905 and then wrested control over its natural resources in 1930. By the time this modicum of self-determination had been achieved, vast areas of land crucial to Alberta’s optimal development had been roped off by Ottawa under the ruses of conservationism (Banff Park, 1885; Waterton Lakes Park, 1895; Blackfoot Forest Reserve, 1899; Jasper Park, 1907; Elk Island Park, 1913). Contemporary talk about enormous set-asides of land to “Save the Grizzly” or “Save the Woodland Caribou” may seem like over-reaching demands of a radical new social movement but an identical campaign was launched a century ago in Alberta to “Save the Wood Bison”. That campaign culminated in the 1922 creation of the world’s largest park, which, not coincidentally, amputated from Alberta the economically critical Athabasca Lake region. (The wood bison, which is not even a taxonomically identifiable sub-species, was bred in captivity then transported to the park.)
Charting one piece of environmentalism yields sobering insights into the sophistication and size of the larger movement. Although Alberta is exceptional, including in its environmental issues, the environmental movement is no larger or more institutionalized in Alberta than in other provinces or countries. Per capita, the environmental movement is larger, wealthier, and more entrenched in British Columbia and Ontario than it is in Alberta. The movement is stronger in Europe than in North America. Alberta’s population is 10% of Canada’s. Canada’s population is 10% of North America’s. Europe is more populous than North America. Hence, Alberta’s environmental movement comprises probably about 0.1% (one-thousandth) of the overall global movement.
- Alberta Environment; Watershed Stewardship Directory; 2005
- www.greenpeace.org and www.greenpeace.ca and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenpeace
- www.ducks.org and www.ducks.ca
- Bunner, Paul (ed); Alberta in the 20th Century; History Book, Edmonton 2002-3; Vol. 11 p 28-31
- Ibid Vol. 12 p 69-77
- CBC May 18, 2010 see also Edmonton Journal May 19, 2010
- Calgary Herald June 30, 2010
- www.davidsuzuki.org and Forbes Magazine; The Other Bronfman; September 4,2006
- Calgary Herald May 8, 2010
- Calgary Herald May 26, 2010
- Calgary Herald May 28 2010
- Bunner; Volume 11 p 128-30
- Ibid; Volume 11 p 128
- Ibid Volume 11 p 127-8
- Ibid Volume 11 p 129
- Ibid Volume 11 p 130
- Ibid Volume 12 p 74-5
- www.oxfordproperties.com and pi
- www.ec.gc.ca (Ecological Gifts)
- Bunner; Volume 12 p 218
- Alberta Environment; Watershed Stewardship Directory; 2005
- Financial Post June 9 2010 and Toronto Sun June 9, 2010
- Bunner; Volume 10 p 88-9
- Ibid; Volume 10 p 142
- www.ualberta.ca (unless otherwise noted all facts about universities are from their websites)
- Edmonton Journal May 16, 2010
- Calgary Herald May 5, 2010; and Edmonton Journal May 5, 2010 and Edmonton Journal May 10, 2010
- Bunner; Volume 12 p 74
- www.davidsuzuki.org and www.royalroads.ca
- Globe and Mail April 20, 2010
- St Alberta Gazette April 17, 2010
- Edmonton Journal May 12, 2010
- Calgary Herald, June 3, 2010 and CBC July 6, 2010
- Edmonton Journal July 5, 2010
- www.eub.gov.ab.ca and Canadian Press April 24, 2010 and Calgary Herald April 24, 2010 and Calgary Herald June 9 2010
- Vancouver Sun May 6, 2010
- www.energy.alberta.ca/Initiatives/1438.asp see also http://budget2010.alberta.ca/
- Calgary Herald June 19, 2010
Bunner, Paul (ed); Alberta in the 20th Century; History Book, Edmonton, 2002-3
Marsh, James (ed); The Canadian Encyclopedia; McClelland and Stewart; Toronto, 1999
Alberta Environment; Watershed Stewardship Directory; 2005
Alberta Government websites
Federal Government websites