Citizen Action Monitor

Harper uses closed-door intimidation tactics against Canadian charities over western pipeline

No 394 Posted by fw, January 27, 2012

Thanks to for this January 26, 2012 Stop the Threats alert.  Canadians who wish to participate in this write-in protest should do so in the next few days by clicking on this link:

This week, we learned that the Harper Government is using closed-door intimidation tactics against Canadian charities. They’re trying to silence groups that question our government’s plans to push the Enbridge western pipeline and supertankers project through overwhelming local opposition, and recklessly expand the tar sands at all costs.

A whistleblower just revealed that the Prime Minister’s Office threatened to revoke the charitable status of Tides Canada if they continue their support for ForestEthics, an environmental group that has engaged thousands of Canadians in the public hearings about the Enbridge project.1

According to the whistleblower, a former senior communications manager for ForestEthics named Andrew Frank, the Prime Minister’s Office told Tides Canada they consider ForestEthics to be an “enemy of the Government of Canada” because of the group’s opposition to the Enbridge pipeline and tar sands expansion.1

This is about more than our jobs and environment. It’s about our rights and our democracy, and we need to speak out now. Together, we can stop these closed-door intimidation tactics by shining a bright light of public attention on our government’s actions.

While we don’t know exactly what was said behind closed doors, the Globe and Mail reports that the Harper Government has called ForestEthics a group “acting against the government of Canada and people of Canada” in private meetings designed to intimidate charitable funders.2 And Peter Robinson, the Chief Executive Officer of the David Suzuki Foundation, says that environmental groups are “right to worry” that the government will threaten the charitable status of groups they disagree with in order to shut down debate.3

The latest threats are part of a much larger pattern. Internal documents from March 2011 outline the Harper Government’s strategy to spend Canadian tax dollars on a PR and lobbying campaign to derail Europe’s climate and environmental policy. The foreign lobbying strategy lists First Nations and environmental groups as the government’s “adversaries,” while oil companies, industry associations, and the National Energy Board are listed as the government’s “allies.”4

Our government’s job is to provide a free and open forum for Canadians to hear the arguments and evidence for and against the Enbridge western pipeline and oil supertanker project, so that together we can decide whether or not the project is in Canada’s best interests.

Instead, Prime Minister Harper is abusing the power of government to silence Canadians who are concerned about a project that will kill jobs, destabilize the climate and threaten our salmon and coast.

The public hearings about the Enbridge western pipeline and supertanker project are now severely compromised in three ways:

    1. The Harper Government has directly biased the hearings with a massive PR campaign to discredit environmental organizations as “foreign special interests” and “radical groups” while privately threatening Canadian charities.5
    2. The National Energy Board has stacked the deck for the Enbridge western pipeline and supertanker hearings by issuing a directive that muzzles any discussion about the environmental impacts of the tar sands. In this way, they’ve ensured the hearings will overstate the benefits of the pipeline by ignoring the major costs of expanding the tar sands.6
    3. The National Energy Board has committed to consult with First Nations, but it has not committed to respect the rights of First Nations to provide “free, prior and informed consent” over any project that affects their territory. Over 70 First Nations groups, covering the entire proposed path of the pipeline and much of the BC coast, have already stood together to oppose the project.7,8

We are seeing a radical shift in our national conversation, an aggressive attempt to poison the well of debate with public smears and private threats against organizations that Canadians have built to help us all have a voice on the issues that matter.

We need your help to speak out and tell Prime Minister Harper that Canadians will not be silenced.

PS – Emma Pullman, Leadnow’s research director, has found very close ties between industry front-group, the Sun Media network and the Prime Minister’s Office that suggest they have a coordinated strategy to create an echo chamber for pro-oil industry and anti-environmental group talking points. You can learn more here:


  1. Affidavit accuses Prime Minister’s Office of threatening environmental charity
  2. Environmentalist’s departure sheds light on tension felt by green groups
  3. Attack on “radicals” sign of tougher federal strategy
  4. Feds list First Nations, green groups as oilsands “adversaries”
  5. ”Scary time” for Canada
  6. Canadian pipeline needs aboriginal consent: chief
  7. Save the Fraser Declaration
  8. Whistleblower’s Open Letter to Canadians
  9. PMO branded environmental group an ‘enemy’ of Canada, affidavit says–pmo-branded-environmental-group-an-enemy-of-canada-affidavit-says
  10. Affidavit accuses Prime Minister’s Office of threatening environmental charity
  11. Affidavit accuses PMO of threatening environmental group
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This entry was posted on January 27, 2012 by in NGO counterpower, political action and tagged , , , .
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