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Foreign Funding Poll: British Columbians Worried about Foreign Investment in Canadian Resources, Not Philanthropic Support for Environmental Groups

Monday, January 9, 2012

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (Jan. 9, 2012) - A poll released today by BC environmental groups shows that almost 75 percent of British Columbians are worried about foreign investment in Canadian natural resources. The poll results show that only a small minority of British Columbians (15%) are concerned about charitable funding provided by US philanthropic foundations to Canadian environmental groups.

The vast majority of British Columbians are worried about US and Chinese investment and control over Canadian natural resources.

"These poll results suggest that the oil lobby’s attacks against environmental groups are out of touch with the true values of British Columbians. The real issue is the unacceptable risk of a foreign-funded pipeline-oil tanker project that would ram pipe through unceded First Nations lands to ship some of the world’s dirtiest oil across thousands of fragile salmon-bearing rivers and streams, ” said Will Horter, Executive Director of the Dogwood Initiative. "225 Supertankers a year, many larger than the Exxon Valdez, would need to transit the treacherous fjords of the Great Bear Rainforest, on route to China. This pipeline is all risk and no reward for British Columbians.”

According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), over the three-year period from 2007-2010 alone, foreign companies poured nearly $20 billion dollars into the tar sands.In contrast, according to blogger Vivian Krause, US charitable foundations have given Canadian environmental groups less than 1.5%of that amount over a ten year period, accounting for all charitable funding on Canadian environmental issues ranging from forest protection to fisheries conservation.

“Funding for environmental charities helps to right the imbalance between ordinary citizens and the financial and political influence of multinational companies in Canada,” said Jessica Clogg of West Coast Environmental Law. “Since 1974, our environmental legal aid services have enabled citizens and community groups throughout BC to participate in resource decisions – like the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline - that would profoundly affect their lives.”

 “Canadians value the importance of environmental advocates speaking up for economic development that sustains our communities without destroying the ecology that supports us,” said Sierra Club BC Executive Director George Heyman. “We represent a legitimate Canadian viewpoint that is critical to sound policy-making, particularly when facing the influential, China-backed Enbridge pipeline lobby.”

The poll was conducted by Strategic Communications in April 2011 and commissioned by the following groups: BC Sustainable Energy Association; Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - BC Chapter; Conservation Northwest; Dogwood Initiative; Ecojustice; ForestEthics; Georgia Strait Alliance; Greenpeace; Pembina Institute; Sierra Club BC; West Coast Environmental Law; Wildsight. Based on a random online sample of 830 adult British Columbians, the results are considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.4 percent 19 times out of 20.

Poll questions and results are available at:
http://wcel.org/sites/default/files/Foreign%20Funding%20Release%20Backgrounder_0.pdf

Contact:
Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law: 604-601-2501
Will Horter, Executive Director, Dogwood Initiative: 250-418-1672
George Heyman, Executive Director, Sierra Club BC: 604-312-6595

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Foreign Funding Release Backgrounder.pdf290.88 KB