Tag Archives: Fraser Institute

Fraser vs Pembina, part 2: Funding

Funding Highlights [added May 31]:

Both the Fraser Institute and the Pembina Institute have some reliance on foreign funding (about 15%). Both organizations rely on foundations for more than half their funding; Fraser enjoys more corporate support, while Pembina has more funding and research contracts from government and other NGOs. In general, Pembina is much more transparent concerning individual funding sources than Fraser.

Nevertheless, this investigation reveals that the oil and gas industry funding plays a much bigger role in the Fraser Institute’s budget than previously realized. Previously unreported cumulative funding from Encana stands at about $1 million; founding CEO Gwyn Morgan gave an additional $1 million, for a total of $2 million. Other important donors have included the Koch brothers ($523,000) and Exxon-Mobil ($120,000), along with significant but unreported regular donations by an unidentified Canadian Koch subsidiary and Exxon-Mobil subsidiary Imperial Oil. There is also circumstantial evidence pointing to support by Keystone XL proponent TransCanada and oil sands operator Canadian Natural Resources. Meanwhile, Pembina has transparently reported support from Suncor (and formerly TransCanada).

This is the second in an ongoing series comparing and contrasting two prominent Canadian think tanks, namely the libertarian and Conservative-friendly Fraser Institute and the environmentally focused Pembina Institute. This follows Part 1, Introduction and Background; subsequent sections cover Funding Transparency, Research Quality, Political Dimensions and Conclusions & Recommendations.

SECTION 2: FUNDING

  1. Summary of Findings
  2. Breakdown of Funding Sources
  3. Foreign Funding
  4. Oil and Gas Company Funding
    1. Encana & Gwyn Morgan
    2. Koch brothers (Koch International)
    3. TransCanada Corp ->Pembina
    4. TransCanada Corp -> Fraser
    5. ExxonMobil & Imperial Oil
    6. Canadian Natural Resources
    7. Suncor
  5. Conclusion


A  FUNDING – SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

Funding Breakdown: Fraser has a little more than double the revenue of Pembina ($10.8 M vs $4.8 M).  Both Fraser (54%) and Pembina (77%) derive more than half their donation revenue from foundations. Fraser also relies considerably more on the corporate sector for donations than Pembina (34% vs 7%). However, Pembina derives half its income from consulting fees, mainly with corporations, as well as other non-profits and governments, thus implying a higher corporate share of Pembina’s overall revenues.

Foreign Funding: Fraser and Pembina appear to have a similar level of foreign funding, about one-sixth of total revenue, based on 2010 tax returns and annual reports.

Oil and Gas company funding: Specific corporate or foundation sponsors, whether foreign or Canadian, are harder to identify in the case of the Fraser Institute, whose lack of transparency stands in sharp contrast to the openness of Pembina.

Nevertheless, Fraser’s major oil and gas company sponsor can now be identified for the first time. Canadian oil and gas giant Encana  has donated about $1 million to Fraser’s coffers since 2002, along with an additional $1 million gift from Encana’s founding CEO (and early Harper suporter) Gwyn Morgan, for a combined total of about $2 million.

U.S. based Koch foundations and are in second place and rising fast, having donated a total of $500,000 from 2007 to 2010. In addition, there were regular undisclosed contributions from an unnamed Koch Canadian subsidiary “years and years” before that.

Other oil industry companies associated with Fraser are ExxonMobil, ExxonMobil subsidiary Imperial Oil, and Keystone XL lead proponent TransCanada Corporation (also a former supporter  of the Pembina Institute). ExxonMobil donated $120,000 in 2003-2004. The amount and timing of Imperial contributions to Fraser remain unknown. There is strong circumstantial evidence of TransCanada support for Fraser, but no direct evidence or admission of funding, let alone amounts or timing.

The following table summarizes current knowledge of oil and gas industry funding of the Fraser Institute.

Company/Foundation_________ 2010__ Cumulative__
Encana__________________ Morgan-Trottier Foundation Encana/Gwyn Morgan Total $75,000 * N/A___ ______ $1,073,286 * $1,000,000 $2,073,286
Koch Foundations ____________ Koch Cdn. subsidiaries $150,000 None $523,221 Unreported
Exxon-Mobil_______________ Imperial Oil None Unreported $120,000 Unreported
TransCanada Corporation ** TBD TBD
Canadian Natural Resources ** TBD TBD

* Previously undisclosed Encana support given in response to author inquiries.
** Circumstantial evidence for support, without official confirmation as yet.

Suncor Energy, now Canada’s largest oil and gas company, is a long time supporter of Pembina, donating in five figures most years, as well as contracting for various consultant services.

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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 and BACKGROUND 
    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.]

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Environment Canada and NRTEE versus the Fraser Institute: An issue of quality

The Fraser Institute recently issued a report on Canadian air quality that achieved moderate coverage, but little critical scrutiny  (apart from a devastating critique from the Suzuki Foundation). In Canadian Environmental Indicators – Air Quality, Fraser Senior Economic Researcher Joel Wood claims that concentrations of five major pollutants, including the particularly worrying duo of fine particulate matter and ground level ozone, are in decline. Wood even accuses ENGOs and the Canadian Medical Association of trying to “scare” the public with claims that are “exaggerated or outright wrong”, particularly in their concerns about ozone.

But in a shocking development (or perhaps not), it turns out that Environment Canada’s official air quality indicator for ozone shows a statistically significant worsening over the last two decades, while both fine particulate matter and ozone show no significant trend in the last decade. The Environment Canada indicators, the very existence of which appears to have been totally missed by Wood and the various reviewers of his work, are based on complete warm season averages weighted by population, and thus provide a much better indicator than Wood’s ad hoc analysis.

This same ineptitude can also be seen in Wood’s short climate policy analyses, where he gets the basics totally wrong, while questioning the validity of climate science itself. Thus the ignorance, incompetence and bias of  Canada’s self-styled “leading public policy think tank” is demonstrated once again.

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Understanding climate with the Fraser Institute and Michael Chernoff

The Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based think tank, is very concerned about education.  So concerned, in fact, that they have taken it upon themselves to develop a new climate science curriculum for use in Canadian schools.

Needless to say, the educational value of the new program is highly doubtful. And it turns out that some of the funding for the project comes from an equally dubious source – a major shareholder of oil and gas company Encana who was also behind a misguided effort to foist the notorious contrarian film “Great Global Warming Swindle” on the British Columbia school system.

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Friends of Science behind Monckton’s Magical Mystery Tour

Lord Christopher Monckton‘s tour of the colonies (a.k.a. Canada), first reported here two months ago, is finally at hand. The details of Monckton’s Apocalypse Cancelled luncheon lecture series were released late last week by tour organizer Friends of Science, the Calgary-based “astroturf” group devoted to opposing the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. Fittingly, the centrepiece of the tour is a cluster of events in Calgary, the province of Alberta’s economic capital, and centre of the Canadian oil and gas industry.

Although event details have now finally been revealed, funding details for this latest Friends project remain mysterious. However, emerging evidence points to the possible role of the Calgary Foundation and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (the Winnipeg-based think tank that is also hosting two of the tour events).

[Update, Sept. 24: Be sure to read Monckton’s comments and my reply below.

Update, May 2, 2010: See the end of the piece for information on ex-Fleishmann-Hillard lobysist and Conservative activist Morten Paulsen’s possible involvement in the Monckton tour.]

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