No, Canada’s environmental movement is not funded by foreign funds


Kristen Pue


This post was written in reaction to an article recently published in Canada’s National Observer: Bomb threat called into Tides Canada an extension of political theatre by Joanna Kerr, CEO of Tides Canada.

Vivian Krause and other far-right bloggers have propagated a myth that is as dangerous as it is inaccurate. They have claimed that Canada’s environmental movement is backed by foreigners – when in reality it is overwhelmingly funded by everyday Canadians.

The Government of Alberta’s decision to give these myths the legitimacy of a public inquiry is irresponsible political opportunism of the worst kind. As we have seen in 2019, these falsehoods have real, dangerous consequences. Last month, Tides Canada had to evacuate its offices after a bomb threat was called in with an ultimatum for the organization to ‘get out of Canada’ (1).

As I showed in my recent analysis of government charities’ data, there is no evidence to support the claim that Canada’s environmental movement is foreign-funded. The vast majority (95 percent) of environmental charities in Canada do not receive any foreign funding. And it is even more uncommon for environmental charities to receive significant amounts of foreign funding. Overall, funding from outside Canada makes up six percent of the sector’s revenue. The remaining 94 percent of funding for environmental charities comes from domestic philanthropic, governmental, and commercial sources.

Charities sometimes receive funding from outside Canada. That is simply a reality in today’s globalized world. The right-wing Fraser Institute, for example, receives about fifteen percent of its funding from outside Canada (2). The Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation receives funding from outside Canada too, and no one is arguing that they are a foreign infiltrator. Some other charities that receive foreign funding include: the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Cancer Society, numerous local SPCA groups, Big Brothers Big Sisters of CanadaWorld Vision Canada, and several United Ways (3). I could go on. The fact is, many charities receive small amounts of funding from outside Canada – just as many Canadians give to international causes.

The myth of foreign funding intends to delegitimize climate activists by calling into question their public support within Canada. It is important to fight this false narrative. Canadians are fighting for a livable future for Canadians. They deserve your respect and attention.

Kristen Pue is a student at PhiLab and specialises in Political Economy; Global Environmental Governance; International Trade; Social Innovation; Transnational Advocacy Movements; The Role of Philanthropy in Social Policy.

This article appeared on the PhiLab blog on 2 January 2020. The original article can be viewed here.

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