Talking points show B.C. Cancer Foundation facing tough questions on Enbridge sponsorship
It’s been pointed out more than once that the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, which benefits the B.C. Cancer Foundation, sounds like an oxymoron.
Enbridge, of course, is the Calgary-based energy company that operates the “world’s longest, most sophisticated crude oil and liquids transportation system”. It’s also the proponent of the highly controversial Northern Gateway project. The proposed 1,177-kilometre-long twin pipelines, which are currently the subject of hearings being conducted by a joint review panel, would carry an average of 525,000 barrels of oil a day from the Alberta tar sands to the B.C. coast at Kitimat, and transport condensate in the other direction.
Meanwhile, the B.C. Cancer Foundation calls itself the “largest charitable funder of cancer research in this province”. The Vancouver-based nonprofit is the fundraising arm of the B.C. Cancer Agency, which is part of the Provincial Health Services Authority.
Critics of Enbridge and its title sponsorship of the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer like to note that petroleum, which is the company’s business, is a source of carcinogens, such as benzene. And the B.C. Cancer Foundation is obviously hearing about these concerns.
The Georgia Straight has obtained a revised draft of talking points about the Enbridge sponsorship set to be circulated by the foundation to its staff. The Q&A is intended to help foundation staff deal with questions from the public on its acceptance of money from a “cancer-causing organization” and other related matters.
The draft talking points make for interesting reading. Here they are in full:
The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer – Talking Points
(to be used by the local Ride office and BC Cancer Foundation Staff)
Cancer has recently become the leading cause of death across Canada and The Ride to Conquer Cancer’s thousands of participants are trying to change this by funding research that will improve cancer care for patients. As the largest cycling fundraiser in Canadian history, the Ride has invested more than $88 million into cancer research and care in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
In BC, the Ride has enabled the BC Cancer Foundation to invest an incredible $27.9 million into research and enhancements to care at the BC Cancer Agency. As the national sponsor for the Ride, Enbridge is enabling thousands of Ride participants to take part in a movement of hope that’s supporting live-saving research initiatives. Sponsorship allows us to direct the dollars raised from the Ride into projects that will improve the lives of the 23,000 British Columbians who will be diagnosed cancer this year.
Q: Why has the Ride to Conquer Cancer become the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer?
A: The Ride to Conquer Cancer is a national movement raising funds for life-saving cancer research and Enbridge is the title sponsor of the event across Canada (Rides take place in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec – largest cycling fund raising event in Canadian history).
Q: How much money did they give you? What does their sponsorship include?
A: Sponsorship is a very important component of the Ride. While we cannot reveal confidential details of sponsorship agreements, we are grateful to all of our sponsors for their support and help. Sponsorship enables more Ride dollars to be invested in cancer research – Research that is having positive impacts on patient outcomes. We greatly value the contribution and commitment each and every sponsor makes.
Last year, Ride dollars helped fund projects such as:
Pediatric Genome Sequencing Project: utilizing genome sequencing technology to develop personalized medicine therapies for patients with rare pediatric cancers.
ANGELYC Project: sequencing the entire genome of all lymphoid cancers, leading to new knowledge and understanding of the genes driving lymphoid cancer.
BC’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program: the program has had three major breakthrough discoveries within the past year and recently made an important recommendation that could help reduce up to 50% of all ovarian cancer cases. For more information, please visit www.bccancerfoundation.com.
Our goal is to make sure that British Columbians continue to experience the lowest cancer incidence and mortality rates in Canada, and to realize the BC Cancer Foundation’s vision of A World Free from Cancer.
Q: Given that the monies raised by the BC Cancer Foundation are going to a public body, the BC Cancer Agency, essentially Enbridge is providing funds to the provincial government, can you disclose the amount?
A: The BC Ride to Conquer Cancer is an event benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation. The BC Cancer Foundation is not a government organization; we are the largest charitable funder of cancer research in this province. Event sponsorship helps to underwrite a portion of the event costs.
Q: Why would you accept money from such a bad corporation? Do you just accept money from anyone?
A: The Ride to Conquer Cancer is a powerful movement driven by a community of cancer survivors, their families, friends and supporters who relentlessly train and raise funds with a single vision: a world free from cancer. While we are aware of the political discussion taking place in our province involving the Enbridge pipeline proposal, the Ride is a movement toward a world free from cancer. Sponsorship helps us invest more of the dollars raised by Ride participants directly into research that has a direct impact on cancer outcomes in BC.
As a registered charity, the BC Cancer Foundation receives a variety of gifts. Our Gift Acceptance Policy is approved by our Board of Directors and guides management and employees in accepting gifts from a wide variety of donors and sources, and ensures that the Foundation maintains a strong base of financial support.
[If pushed on their motives] Enbridge is a long-time supporter of cancer research in Canada. Through the Alberta Cancer Foundation they sponsored the Alberta Ride to Conquer Cancer and in 2010 increased their support as national sponsor for the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2010. In addition to their sponsorship commitment, employees had a vital role in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in Canada, with over 200 employees, their families and friends raising over $900.000.
Q: How can you accept money from Enbridge, they are a cancer-causing organization? [It’s been proven that Benzene, found in petroleum products, is a carcinogen]. Would you accept money from a tobacco company?
A: The BC Cancer Foundation is the largest charitable funder of cancer research in BC and our goal is a world free from cancer. We work to achieve that goal by funding leading-edge research at the BC Cancer Agency that has a direct impact on patient outcomes.
Ride dollars are having a significant impact on patients in BC. Last year we were able to double the capacity of life-saving PET/CT scans for patients in the province and fund a number of genome sequencing initiatives that are pinpointing the exact genetic drivers of specific cancers, such as Acute Myeloid Leukemia, leading to new treatment targets and evenually new drug therapies.
[If pushed on the Benzene/cancer causing questions] I’m not an expert in environmental factors as they relate to cancer. What I can tell you is that the Ride raises more money than any other cancer fundraising event in Canada and these dollars are supporting research with direct impacts on cancer outcomes in this province and across our country.
[If pushed. Verbal answer only] Nationally, Enbridge is in a three year sponsorship agreement for the Ride, which is helping to invest more dollars from the event into critical, live-saving research. The BC Cancer Foundation collects event related feedback from our Ride participants and the public, which will help us to inform future plans and agreements..
Q: I won’t ride in your event because of the Enbridge sponsorship.
A: I’m sorry to hear that. Participants and members of the public have provided feedback, which the BC Cancer Foundation takes into account for planning of all future events and sponsorship agreements. There are other ways you can support the BC Cancer Foundation and our goal of a world free from cancer if you do not wish to participate in the Ride. Find out more at www.bccancerfoundation.com, or we would be happy to have a staff member contact you about how you can make a personally meaningful gift.
Q: Is the BC Cancer Foundation’s relationship with Enbridge problematic for your reputation, are Ride numbers down?
Ride participation for 2012 is on track to set a new record with over 3,000 riders. This event is very personal to these individuals because they are survivors or are honouring loved ones who have been taken by Cancer….and we are proud to thank the 105,000 generous British Columbians who supported the BC Cancer Foundation in 2011.
Q: Are you concerned that Enbridge is using the BC Cancer Foundation to green wash or soften its public image in BC?
The Ride is a National movement; I encourage you to contact Enbridge to discuss with them their marketing strategies.
The BC Cancer Foundation is focused on funding leading-edge cancer research and enhancements to care at the BC Cancer Agency, and the Ride to Conquer Cancer is helping us achieve our goals. Ride dollars are having a significant impact on cancer care and research in BC, i.e.
In 2011 The BC Cancer Foundation funded a second, state-of-the-art PET/ CT scanner and the existing scanner was upgraded to a newer model. Wait times have been dramatically reduced and the number of patients able to receive these life-saving scans has more than doubled.
Researchers are currently working on a project, which involves the genomic sequencing of Acute Myeloid Leukemia tumours, with the hope of developing a fast, effective test using sequencing technology to treat patients according to their cancer’s genetic make-up— a major leap forward in the treatment of cancer.
A new research chair has been established by the BC Cancer Agency and Simon Fraser University that will look at the growing issue of cancer survivorship. The Chair will work with patients, clinicians and administrators from across the Agency to ensure that the more than 12,000 cancer survivors each year can be best supported on their journey.
Q: What do I tell my donors who are hesitant to support my Ride because they disagree with the Enbridge sponsorship?
The Ride to Conquer Cancer is about funding research discoveries that are having a direct impact on cancer outcomes in BC. We are aware of the political discussion taking place in our province involving Enbridge’s pipeline proposal, however, the Ride is a powerful movement driven by a community of cancer survivors, their families, friends and supporters who relentlessly train and raise funds with a single vision: a world free from cancer. Sponsorship helps us invest more dollars raised by participants directly into research that’s making a difference.
Q: Why doesn’t Enbridge cancel its plans to build the Northern Gateway Pipeline that could increase cancer incidence in BC rather than fund cancer research and treatment?
For all questions regarding Enbridge’s business plans and activities, please visit www.enbridge.com
NOTE: If you get questions about Enbridge, specifically, what is going on with the firm, its responses to pipeline leaks, court cases, etc, please remember you are NOT a spokesperson for Enbridge. Steer these conversations BACK to the Ride or offer concerned parties to contact Enbridge directly with their specific concerns.