The Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) says it’s disappointed that controversial blogger Vivian Krause has been invited to deliver a speech at the upcoming Yukon Geoscience Forum and Tradeshow.
Krause, sponsored by Ferus Natural Gas Fuels, is scheduled to give a keynote address called “Rethinking Activism” at 1 p.m. on Nov. 16, the opening day for the annual event.
The Vancouver-based blogger has spent years documenting foreign funding received by Canadian environmental groups and organizations.
Most notably, she’s championed the idea that U.S. dollars are bankrolling Canadian advocacy groups who oppose development of Alberta’s tar sands and have “landlocked” Albertan oil, a belief that’s since been repeated by Alberta Premier Jason Kenny.
A number of her claims have been heavily criticized by environmental groups and media.
In a statement posted to its website Nov. 13, CPAWS Yukon described Krause as “a self-proclaimed researcher, who travels around the country spreading disinformation about the conservation sector and our funders.”
“She presents her theories in a way that makes them seem reasonable, but once you start to dig a little you begin to realize that the facts do not support her conclusions,” the statement says.
CPAWS Yukon’s executive director Chris Rider said in an interview Nov. 14 that he’s “genuinely frustrated” the forum invited Krause to speak, and is concerned that she might damage the working relationships groups like CPAWS have with the mining industry.
“On an individual, data-by-data basis, many of things that Vivian Krause is saying are accurate,” he said, acknowledging that CPAWS itself “absolutely” receives funding from both Canadian and international foundations.
“… (But) she’s using cherry-picked data to reach conclusions that seem incredibly logical if you just look at the data she’s cherry-picked without taking the larger picture into consideration. And it basically means it’s impossible to counter the narrative that she’s spreading.”
In an email to the News, Krause wrote that she disagreed with CPAWS’s assertion that she spreads “disinformation.”
“Accuracy and fairness is very important to me,” she wrote. “I do my very best to ensure that all of the information that I provide is meticulously accurate and that the questions that I raise are fair, and are raised in a fair way.”
Krause also wrote that she has “no objections to foreign funding, except when it comes to elections activism” and that her main concern “is not with the origin of the funds that I’ve identified, but rather, with the PURPOSES for which it is provided.”
“I don’t see how ‘land-locking’ Canada out of the global oil market helps to protect the climate,” she wrote. “I think there are better ways to go about it.”
Krause added it was “too bad” that CPAWS didn’t contact her before issuing its statement.
Rider said CPAWS Yukon “made a decision not to engage directly” with Krause “because we can’t engage with someone on a meaningful level who’s basically travelling around the country spreading conspiracy theories.”
“If she has no issues with foreign funding, what is she doing? Why is she travelling around the country speaking on the conspiracy around foreign funding? I think that’s a clear misstatement of where she stands,” he said.
“What I really do want to emphasize is that the reason I’m really upset about this is because here in the Yukon, we do have a good relationship with many of the people who work in the resource industry,” he added.
“ … (Krause) is such a divisive figure, and by having her come to the Yukon, you’re basically taking away or lessening the ability for us to work together productively and find common ground, and I find that incredibly disappointing because I think that’s how we can continue to achieve great things.”
Rider said he wrote to Yukon Geoscience Forum organizers about three weeks ago outlining his concerns, but has not yet received a response.
Yukon Chamber of Mines executive director Samson Hartland, one of the forum’s organizers, did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the News.
Two other contacts listed on the forum website deferred to Hartland for comment.
This isn’t the first time a keynote speaker at the forum has courted controversy.
Last year, more than 200 Yukoners signed a petition demanding media personality Rex Murphy be uninvited from speaking after he wrote a column disparaging Christine Blasey Ford, who had accused then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
Murphy gave his keynote address anyway, to what Hartland described to the News afterwards as a “packed” room.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org