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Editorial: Big bucks and influence

With the Bank of Canada's decision to increase interest rates earlier this month and the positive forecast for economic growth in the country during the next little while, everything should be pretty much roses these days on the economic front.

Kivalliq News Editor Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News Editor Darrell Greer

However, the Bank of Canada also noted should U.S. President Donald Trump find a way to scuttle the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), all bets are off as to what the economic condition, let alone forecast, might be for our great nation.

Should Trump scuttle NAFTA, the ramifications will be deeply felt in Canada and a dark-and-dire forecast would, most likely, be on the cards.

Who could the country possibly turn to and expect to contribute $2 trillion ($84 billion a year) to the national economy over the next quarter century to keep many Canadians smiling and gainfully employed?

Strangely enough, there is an entity that could do exactly that, but Albertan oil is currently suffering from the worst public-image shellacking any industry has seen for quite some time.

The stalemate between the industry and the public when it comes to support for pipeline and infrastructure projects makes it seem impossible for Albertan oil to ever get landlocked crude oil to global markets.

In some ways, it's almost if the Americans saw this coming and are more prepared than we are.

Then again, it wasn't so long ago, 2014 to be exact, that controversial researcher Vivian Krause published a piece claiming it was no coincidence that U.S. foundations were funding a million-dollar campaign against Canadian energy.

I say controversial because you don't pick sides in something like this and not have the other side do everything in its power to destroy your credibility.

American dollars flow into two main U.S. charities, Tides Foundation and New Venture Fund, which then fund Canadian environmental groups like the Dogwood Initiative, The Tar Sands Campaign, Leadnow and OpenMedia.

The attack on Krause ramped up about two years ago when she pointed out that some of these groups supported Justin Trudeau by organizing volunteers, phone-calling voters and doing other campaign activities.

True, unions do the same for the party of choice (usually the NDP) and business groups have been known to do it for the Conservatives. Still, we are talking about the prime minister.

While many in the know concede that American charities donated $300 million to Canadian Eco-activists between 2000 to 2016, those on the activist side maintain a good chunk of that went to things like a planning process for the Great Bear Rainforest, while those on the energy-and-jobs side maintain that the biggest chunk of the money goes to fund groups fighting against the Alberta oil sands and the building of pipelines.

Should we care?

Of course we should. People don't send millions of funding dollars to any organization or group without believing it will further their agenda and it's more often than not, very, very effective.

For years the goal of the Tar Sands Campaign has been to stop expansion of the Canadian oil industry, to reduce demand for oil sands crude in the U.S.A. and to stop or stall pipeline and port construction.

Knowing this, one would have to assume they wouldn't hesitate to throw their lot (and money) in with any group, Indigenous or not, that works toward helping them achieve that goal.

'We respect your rights' – when it comes to the corporate empire and the head of the lobbying class – translates to 'here's the money, go do our dirty work in any manner you see fit.'

There are no easy answers, but Inuit in Nunavut have learned the hard way what big bucks and influence can do with the ban on seal products.

Anyone, on either side of the coin, should at least make the effort to understand who's behind the folks you see wearing the white hats.

It's the only way, right or wrong, to express an informed opinion and, just maybe, informed opinions may one day lead us to compromise and the best of both worlds.