Foreigners are meddling in our elections and it’s got to stop.
No, I’m not talking about the ongoing investigation into Russian-Trump collusion which, in my opinion, is a phoney non-story. I am talking about the real efforts foreign entities have put into interfering in Canadian elections and demonizing our energy industry.
We now have three examples: The Tar Sands Campaign spearheaded by Corporate Ethics and funded by the Tides and Rockefeller Foundation, the Kinder Morgan Action Hive backed by a consortium of extreme environmental groups funded in part by U.S. foundations, and Leadnow’s successful effort to use strategic voting to defeat 25 out of 29 Conservative MPs with at least 20 per cent of their funds (that they will admit to) coming from U.S. sources.
No one is even bothering to hide it now. Last week, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee did a joint press conference with B.C. Premier John Horgan to express support for killing the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Gee, I wonder why the governor would want to do that? Could it be that Washington state is the refining capital of the Pacific Northwest with five refineries that export fuel into the Vancouver market and he wants to choke off any competition?
On top of this, a recent Congressional report pointed to Russia using social media to negatively influence public opinion against building pipelines in Canada. Sen. Linda Frum told me there is reason to believe China is doing the same.
LISTEN: Senator Linda Frum discusses eliminating foreign funding in Canadian elections
It is shocking the extent to which the Canadian public has become captive to the manipulation of foreign entities, governments and otherwise, in the name of saving the planet. This demonization has nothing to do with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and everything to do with blocking Alberta’s access to international markets so we can’t grow our market share.
For a country that was able to rally to buy French’s ketchup to save Canadian jobs in Leamington, Ont., how in the world did foreign entities convince the Canadian public that saving jobs in Russia, the U.S. or Saudi Arabia was more important than saving jobs in Alberta?
The answer is a sustained, long, expensive, well-funded public relations campaign and an energy industry that didn’t fight back. Now we must. And the place to start is to level the playing field.
Sen. Frum has a bill in the Senate aimed at eliminating the ability of foreign entities to fund groups that take part in influence campaigns during elections. They would have to put money for political activities into a separate account and play by the same rules as political parties do: no union, corporate or foreign donations – just individual donations limited to $1,500.
Plus, they’d have to detail and report how it is spent.
WATCH BELOW: Multiple arrests made at Kinder Morgan facility protest
That won’t stop foreign entities from continuing their influence campaigns through environmental groups in non-election years, but it will at least stop them from interfering in our elections.
Turning the sentiment around has to start somewhere. The Justin Trudeau government should stop stalling and support this bill. An election is less than 18 months way. The clock is ticking.
Danielle Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org