In a Globe and Mail article published Tuesday, federal natural resources minister Joe Oliver accused Tides Canada of enabling foreign interference in the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline regulatory process.
The truth is, like Minister Oliver, Tides Canada is fully committed to protecting the nation’s interests.
“Tides Canada is a Canadian organization, run by Canadians, and focused on issues that matter to Canadians,” says Ross McMillan, the organization’s president and CEO. “Our country’s plentiful natural resources make us the envy of the world. Canadians want an open and democratic discussion about how best to use and protect those resources.”
“To be clear, Tides Canada is not against the oil sands or other resource development projects. The organization does, however, support a comprehensive public policy discussion about the true benefits and costs of these activities, the pace of development, and about alternatives that could create jobs and prosperity for all Canadians,” said McMillan.
Merran Smith, director of Tides Canada’s Energy Initiative, says all Canadians deserve a voice in these conversations.
“This contrived funding ‘debate’ is a red herring,” says Smith. “These are critical issues with long-term implications for Canada. We live in a democracy where all voices should be heard. It is totally appropriate for Tides Canada to support Canadian engagement in our public processes.”
“We know that Canadians care about the environment and are concerned about climate change, oil spills, and protecting our water, air and land,” says Smith.
Like many Canadian charities, foundations and think tanks, Tides Canada receives donations from both Canadians and Americans. It is neither new nor surprising that global issues like energy and climate change attract international philanthropy. Even so, the resources that Tides Canada devotes to climate and energy issues are a tiny fraction of what industry and the Canadian government are spending to advocate on behalf of the oil industry.
Tides Canada believes we cannot have meaningful discussions of Canada’s energy future without everyone at the table—First Nations, industry, all levels of government, communities, environmental groups and other non-profit organizations. This includes those who are often marginalized or under-represented in these discussions.
Canada must also recognize the risks and opportunities unleashed by rapid changes in the global energy market.
“The oil sands are today’s reality, but Canada will ultimately need to serve the growing demand for cleaner, safer and more accessible energy solutions,” says Smith, noting that annual global investments in clean energy now surpass investments in traditional fossil fuels.
“Yes, we need to talk about how best to use our petroleum resources, but we must also move rapidly to position Canada for prosperity in this emerging clean energy future,” says Smith.
Every year Tides Canada supports, convenes or directly funds hundreds of Canadian initiatives, from neighbourhood-scale social programs to national conservation efforts. By supporting these conversations, Tides Canada is working to strengthen our communities, our country, and our democracy.
Photo | Ian McAllister