I’ve been called some interesting things since I started working for Sierra Club B.C. five years ago. An eco-fascist, for starters. That unfortunate barb was from B.C. Liberal MLA Bill Bennett, who said that we were “eco-facists” (his spelling) who wanted to paint the province our favourite colour—green.
This week, an astounding diatribe from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver tarred and feathered me and everyone else associated with Sierra Club B.C. as “radical environmentalists”. According to Oliver, we have a “radical ideological agenda” that rejects the benefits of civilization, even hydroelectricity. I guess I’ll have to unplug the computer I’m supposedly using to hoodwink innocent British Columbians into signing up for the Enbridge pipeline hearings, and to cajole misguided citizens into emailing those dastardly form letters to the Canadian government. (Oops, I mean the Harper government.)
And then there’s the secretly-backed Ethical Oil group, which calls me a “puppet” of “foreign special interest groups” and “radical foreign saboteurs”. Those foreigners are doing such a good job with theatrical illusions that I wasn’t even aware that someone was pulling my strings. Ethical Oil spokesperson Kathryn Marshall says “foreign billionaires” are also meddling in Canada’s affairs, but she can’t name any of them. Maybe it’s not surprising that Marshall doesn’t know who is masterminding this alleged foreign billionaire “hijacking” of Canadian democracy, because Ethical Oil also can’t seem to remember who is designing and paying for its pricey attack ads on environmental groups who oppose the China-backed Enbridge pipeline.
Our radical environmentalist agenda? A drumroll please. Are you ready to be seriously shocked? Okay, here goes. Sierra Club B.C. receives funding from U.S. philanthropic foundations. There, that old cat is finally out of the pipe. It’s been on our website and in our annual reports for decades and suddenly it’s headline news across the country. I can see the next media cycle now, and this story is only getting bigger. “Sierra Club B.C. funded by individual donors, corporations, local businesses, and governments: Telus included.”
Telus, now that is really a radical operation. Haven’t you seen the Telus ad with the singing hippopotamus?
And governments? Hold on a sec. These same environmental groups that are saying no to what Oliver calls “the biggest industrial project on the planet” are backed by governments? Yup, Sierra Club B.C.’s award-winning environmental education program has been supported by the Canadian federal government—the Harper government, the one Oliver works for—along with that hotbed of radicalism that opposes all new and existing hydroelectricity projects, the B.C. government.
Oliver calls the people who run these foreign foundations “socialist billionaires”, and says they’re meddling in Canadian affairs. And these people are supposedly hiding out in the U.S. of A. I hope someone told Rick Perry.
Let’s turn to the so-called radical agenda of one of Sierra Club B.C.’s “foreign funders”, the Wilburforce Foundation in Seattle, which has been singled out by Ethical Oil. Wilburforce, by the way, is named after the lovable pig in Charlotte’s Web whose life is saved by a barn spider. Wilburforce’s mission is to “protect wildlife habitat in Western North America by actively supporting organizations and leaders advancing conservation solutions.” These people are truly terrifying!
Oliver advocates cutting short the democratic pipeline hearing process, ignoring the strong wishes of B.C.’s First Nations and the Union of B.C. Municipalities, jeopardizing 50,000 coastal jobs with a potential oil spill, risking our famous wild salmon streams and white spirit bears, lifting a 30-year ban on oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s treacherous mid-coast, and steaming full speed along a carbon-intensive energy path that scientists like NASA’s James Hansen warn will have catastrophic consequences for global warming.
Now that’s what I’d call radical.
Sarah Cox is the communications director for Sierra Club B.C.