Accountant Steve Allan has been tasked with the inquiry’s mandate to examine “whether any foreign organization that has evinced an intent harmful or injurious to the Alberta oil and gas industry has provided financial assistance to a Canadian organization.” Special attention is to be paid to any Canadian organization that has spread “misleading or false information” about that industry, received grants from any level of government in Canada, or has charitable status in Canada.
The inquiry follows in the footsteps of Vivian Krause, a Vancouver resident whose research drew public attention to the money trail connecting Canadian environmental groups to the U.S.-based Tides Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and others.
Krause confirmed to The Epoch Times that she made a submission to Allan’s inquiry.
“What I did was provide him information, helped him in the gathering of the facts, the gathering of the original source documents, because if they had had to start from scratch it would have taken them years,” she said.
“I am grateful to Premier [Jason] Kenney for having the courage to address this,” Krause said, noting that the inquiry has the power to do what she could not.
“They have lawyers and accountants that they can be relying on instead of only a lay ex-nutrition officer from UNICEF like me. That’s the point here, that this exercise is supposed to transcend from being a citizen bringing forward information from her lay perspective to be a proper inquiry conducted by proper legal and accounting experts.”
In 2018, Krause retained a Calgary law firm that presented legal options to the previous NDP government, including a public inquiry, but no action was taken. Kenney’s United Conservative Party took power the following year and announced in July 2019 that they would do just that.
The inquiry has not held public hearings, despite subpoena power, something Krause has mixed feelings about.
“I wanted litigation in the first 100 days of the commission—nothing less,” she said. “I want to see the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation on the steps of a court in Calgary. I want to see the Rockefellers forced to come to Alberta and explain to the people of Alberta why the Rockefellers did not touch Texas.”
Yet, Krause also sees wisdom in the inquiry’s approach.
“Environmental activists have demonstrated the ability to cause a very costly ruckus, and I don’t speak for the commissioner, but I think it was important to get through the paperwork incurring millions of dollars in security costs.”
The $3.5 million inquiry invited many industry groups, environmental organizations, thinks tanks, governments, and individuals to apply for standing as a participant to provide input. It also extended an open invitation to all interested parties to apply. In the end, 11 individuals or organizations applied and were granted standing. One participant called the inquiry’s research papers “textbook examples of climate change denialism” in his submission to the inquiry.
Inquiry spokesperson Alan Boras told The Epoch Times that “the discussions around climate change and the status of climate as defined there is not a topic that the inquiry is going to make findings on. So people have raised that, but it’s not in the core issues.”
“It is really at the core a focus on a forensic accounting exercise on foreign funds that are coming into Alberta and into Canada from outside the country to obstruct oil and natural gas and energy development,” he said.
Barry Cooper, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, penned one of the three papers commissioned by the inquiry. The research showed the findings of social scientists that philanthropic organizations, including environmental ones, targeted more of their efforts toward advocacy and activism in recent decades than in those prior.
“[My report] dealt with changes in the activities of charities in North America and with the influence of foreign, mostly American, charities on Canadian public policy,” Cooper said in an email. “Often these foreign charities have supported Canadian affiliates or similarly disposed bodies.”