Ms. Krause Goes to Ottawa

Vivian Krause was invited to speak at today’s Standing Committee on Natural Resources

Most of us Canadians will go about our entire lives and never be called up by someone in the nation’s capital and be asked to speak to a Parliamentary Committee. But when you’ve attracted a little national attention for your efforts as North Vancouver mom Vivian Krause has, it comes less as a surprise.

Last week Krause was invited to speak at a Standing Committee on Natural Resources. The topic was energy security, and it was prompted by a non-binding motion by NDP opposition MP Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) to be voted on today to ban all oil tankers from BC's north coast. The vote passed (143-138) with all Liberal, NDP & Bloc MPs voting in support.

The aim of the motion was ostensibly to protect the shores of our west coast. But it’s real objective was to ratchet up the well-funded fight against the export of Alberta oil to Pacific Rim countries. That includes a coordinated campaign to garner the support of First Nations in affected communities (helped by large multi-million dollar grants) which has resulted in growing opposition to a proposed pipeline across British Columbia to Kitimat.

The research of Vivian Krause and her associate Rob Scagel is the best resource in the country to understand how millions move across the 49th parallel and through the Tides Canada Foundation, and into the hands of ENGOs here in BC & Alberta. Krause's words have been published across the country, and while complicated, the story is raising enough eyebrows that she's being contacted by some highly influential members of the media and of governments.

Krause is also attracting the interest of Tides Canada Foundation lawyers, who have now submitted two letters to her in recent days requesting alterations of her documentation. Krause tried for three years to get someone at Tides to respond to any of her questions about their funding, and never heard a peep back. She submitted letters respectfully requesting that Tides refute or confirm her findings, and got silence in return.

Instead of speaking directly in response to Krause’s fair questions which involve charities and matters of public interest, she gets a letter from Tides lawyers instead.

On Tuesday morning Krause sat down in front of the microphone before the Parliamentary Committee, and while quite clearly nervous at the start, spoke with conviction. It was a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment, albeit without Jimmy Stewart's swaggering delivery. Then after that Krause, who speaks five languages with confidence, ably responded en français to the questions of a Bloc Québécois member of the committee.

I spoke with Vivian later in the day. Like most of us would be, she was highly self-critical of her performance. She complained that the crappy hotel shampoo and bitter Ottawa cold left her hair looking a mess.

She lamented the decision by majority of the Members of Parliament today to support Cullen's motion. "If this was simply about marine conservation I'd be all for it," said Krause. "But it's not about that at all. Why else are US charities so interested in our coastline, and in particular the coast where the export of oil would take place? Why aren't they banning oil shipments off the coast of California or the east coast instead?"

This is a fascinating story, kicked up a notch by the legal lumber Tides feels that it needs to lay down too protect its reputation from a tenacious single parent renting a basement apartment. It’s also interesting to note how the ENGOs like the Dogwood Initiative are capitalizing on the NDP member’s work. This is an email the environmental group sent out to supporters on Monday evening:

On Tuesday evening the House of Commons will vote on a motion to protect the north coast of British Columbia from crude oil tanker traffic.

This motion is symbolic, but is an important step towards one day achieving a legislated tanker ban. And more importantly, it’s a test to see if Canada’s opposition parties will work together to protect our coastlines from oil spills.

But, we need your help to push MPs to take a stand on this issue.  Please donate today. You’ll help keep the pressure on key federal politicians in all parties to take action to keep oil tankers and spills off our north coast.

We need all the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebcois MPs to support this issue – both on Tuesday and into 2011. We need your help to make this happen. Please make a donation of $10, $25 or $75 today.

Your donation will help build the broad public support we need for this issue to resonate with MPs across the country. And, it will ensure we have the staff-power to mobilize citizens to take action.

This is the time for us to go all out and connect with politicians across the country and push for permanent protection of our coastlines. With your support we’ll work towards the tabling of legislation to ban oil tankers; we’ll continue to highlight the issue in Ottawa, help citizens like you show their support for a ban, and broaden our relationships with MPs across Canada.

Of course, Dogwood and their allies have already had a considerable bump from the work of Mayor Gregor Robertson to make this into a local issue, even garnering a front page of The Province some weeks back.

As Krause says in her concluding remarks, "Environmental activism isn't what it used to be, the new factor is money…as long as environmental groups are paid to run multi-million dollar campaigns, I think it's unreasonable to hope that they won't."

- post by Mike

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