Fraser vs Pembina, part 1: Introduction and Background

This is the first in a series comparing and contrasting two prominent Canadian think tanks, namely the Fraser Institute and the Pembina Institute. The projected table of contents is given below with the current Introduction and Background section highlighted and broken down into sub-sections. Links to subsequent sections will be enabled as they become available.

    1. Introduction
    2. Background
    3. Sources
  2. Funding
  3. Funding Transparency
  4. Research Quality
  5. Political Influence
  6. Conclusion and Recommendations

[Note: Since this page is primarily intended as background and reference material for those readers less familiar with Fraser and Pembina, comments have been disabled.]


In the wake of a series of attacks on environmental groups by the Conservative government and its tightly linked ally, I review basic information on two important Canadian policy institutes (a.k.a. think tanks), each representing  a contrasting viewpoint and focus. On the one hand, we have the libertarian and Conservative-friendly Fraser Institute,  and on the other, Alberta’s Pembina Institute, one of five “radical” environmental groups accused by of being a “puppet” of “foreign interests”.

I evaluate these two organizations and, where appropriate, their oil industry sponsors, along a number of dimensions.


Here is an overview of the two institutes, including links for further information.

Attribute Fraser_Institute_Details_etc Pembina_Institute_Details_et
Founded 1992 1985
2010 budget $10.8 Million (Can.) $4.8 Million (Can.)
FTEs 64 50
Average comp. $90,026 per year $68,951 per year
Mission ” … to measure, study, and communicate the impacts of competitive markets and government interventions on the welfare of individuals.”  “… to advance sustainable energy solutions through innovative research, education, consulting and advocacy.”
Website Fraser Institute

Pembina Institute

Pembina Foundation

Further reading



Sourcewatch (ISPM)

Deep Climate



Sources used for background information and funding data include 2010 tax returns and annual reports for each organization. In general, the Fraser annual report provided little information of value, with highly general statements of accounts, forcing reliance on the sketchier information in the tax return or direct inquiries to supporting companies. Pembina’s tax return is for the Foundation only, but fortunately the Pembina annual reports are quite forthcoming. The links to these sources are given below.

Sources_etc_etc_etc Fraser_Institute_ect Pembina_Institute_
2010 Tax Return Financial Details  Compensation Financial Details Compensation
2010 Annual Report(s) Fraser Institute

Pembina Institute

Pembina Foundation

2009 Annual Report(s) Fraser Institute

Pembina Institute

Pembina Foundation

2008 Annual Report(s) Fraser Institute

Pembina Institute

Pembina Foundation

2007 Annual Report(s) Fraser Institute

Pembina Institute

Pembina Foundation

Information useful for interpreting online tax returns may be found in the Canada Revenue Agency guide Completing the Registered Charity
Information Return.

The following companies known to have some association with Fraser and/or Pembina are discussed at length in the sections on funding and funding transparency. Associated foundations are noted in parentheses.

Funding and other associations are evaluated from institute and foundation annual reports in the case of Pembina. In the case of Fraser, information is gleaned from responses to private inquires to each company, the companies’ own reports, as well as other documents such as press releases and third-party reports.

Finally, here is a table of highlighted climate science and policy related studies (top row) and climate science education projects (bottom row) from the two think tanks. These studies and initiatives will be discussed in the section on research quality.

Fraser_Institute_ec__t—————— Pembina_Institute_etc————————-

1. Independent SPM (2007)

2. Critical Topics in Global Warming (2009)

3. In America’s National Interest – Canadian Oil (2011)

1. Climate Leadership, Economic Prosperity (2009)

2. Responsible Action? (Alberta assessment.) (2011)

1. Understanding Clim Chng

2. Understanding Clim Chng- Lesson Plans


2. Green Learning Canada

One response to “Fraser vs Pembina, part 1: Introduction and Background

  1. Pingback: Fraser vs Pembina, part 2: Funding | Deep Climate