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Dennis Dawson

The Hon. Dennis  Dawson, B.A., M.B.A. Senator Dennis Dawson was elected as one of the youngest members of Parliament in Canadian history where he served his constituents of Louis-Hébert for three consecutive terms. He was appointed to the Senate on August 2, 2005, and represents the province of Quebec and the Senatorial Division of Lauzon.

Publications

Senator to Harper Government: Stop 'Slandering' Charities

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Published by Senator Robert Peterson (retired) on 07 June 2012

Over the last few weeks the government has been intent on slandering charities and their foreign funders. Ministers have even publicly labelled foreign donors as "radicals," and the Canadian charities that receive their donations, "money launderers."

As directors of charitable organizations hold their ground, and as the Conservative hit list continues to grow, one has to ask the question that no one seems willing to ask -- what about the Fraser Institute? Further, why does the government seem intent on labelling one section of foreign donors as radicals but not another? If the government is actually concerned about foreign donors influencing public opinion, shouldn't they be worried about ALL foreign donors?

As a disclaimer, I believe in an open and engaged democracy; I believe in including dissenting voices; and I believe in groups attempting to sway public opinion -- because after all, that's what democracy is. I draw the line when a government picks and chooses which voices it wants to hear, while silencing those it disagrees with. That, after all, is not what democracy is.

Perfectly legal

According to Canada Revenue Agency rules, a charity is legally permitted to receive money from American foundations and use a portion of that money to conduct political advocacy. Opposing pipeline construction, for example, is legitimate political advocacy. Just as rallying against abortion laws, or protesting against any other piece of government legislation is also considered acceptable political advocacy.

So what is the government worried about? If the act of political advocacy is itself legitimate, it must be that foreign organizations that provide funding to environmental groups are exceptionally questionable.

The Fraser Institute is a think tank that produces research for public consumption. It is also a registered charitable organization, meaning that donors receive tax breaks from the donations they give. The Fraser Institute receives funding from a number of foreign sources.

Foreign funding on the far right

One of the Fraser Institute's biggest funders is the Koch brothers, two U.S. billionaire oil tycoons whose wealth in the United States is surpassed only by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. They control thousands of miles of pipeline, have given tens of millions of dollars to Republican candidates and have been called the "financial engines" behind the Tea Party movement. They have helped fund projects undermining work on climate change, destroying environmental legislation, taxes, trade unions and anything related to health care reform. They also have interests in the Keystone XL pipeline as an intermediary in the environmental review process.

Since 2007, the Koch brothers have donated over half a million dollars to the Fraser Institute and, prior to 2008, the institute received funding from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, an umbrella of Koch Family Foundations. Documents released from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library at the University of California, San Francisco, also list no less than 209 documents involving the Fraser Institute. They reveal years of funding from major American tobacco companies totalling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the Fraser Institute's 2010 tax return, funding from all foreign sources amounted to nearly 16 per cent of their total funding -- more than $1.7 million in 2010 and $2.9 million in 2009. These figures can be compared to the combined total of $1.1 million in foreign funding that the David Suzuki Foundation received in 2009 and 2010.

The Fraser Institute has, in the past, released reports criticizing anti-smoking legislation, a report questioning the evidence between second-hand smoke and lung cancer, as well as multiple reports questioning climate science and global warming. The Suzuki Foundation has, in the past, released reports criticizing pipeline construction, reports promoting the idea of man-made climate change, as well as reports dealing with carbon tax.

In the interest of balance

If money from American billionaire oil tycoons can be used to advocate against the science behind global warming, surely foreign money should be allowed to inform the public of the potential environmental impacts of a pipeline. If money from American tobacco companies can be used to question the science behind second-hand smoke and the legislation that prohibits smoking in public, surely foreign money should be allowed to be used to question the basis for restructuring environmental legislation and the environmental review process. Should it not?

Recent Publications

Autism families are still in crisis

31 Mar, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | We will mark World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Last month, a select committee of the Ontario Legislative Assembly published an interim report on developmental services in Ontario. The final recommendations will be submitted to the Ontario government in May.

Accountability & transparency for the whole of Parliament

25 Mar, 2014 | By Senator Percy Downe | I’ve spoken with many Canadians recently who’ve expressed that they want more transparency and greater accountability from their Government. They don’t want catch phrases. They don’t want promises. They want action; and given that both the Senate and the House of Commons represent the key link between Canadians and their government, it is our responsibility to keep up with these public demands.

The myth of Harper’s job creation record

4 Feb, 2014 | By Senator Art Eggleton | With close to 46,000 Canadians getting pink slips in December, Canadians are getting the picture that the economy is not as rosy as the Harper government says it is. We have been fed the myth that our economy is not only doing fine, but that we are world leaders. Unfortunately, we are not.

Ottawa Senators Become Free Agents: The New Senate

4 Feb, 2014 | By Senator Jim Cowan | On Wednesday, the Senate of Canada entered a new era. Justin Trudeau announced that the 32 sitting Liberal Senators would no longer be members of the national Liberal Caucus. His goal: to do his part to remove the excessive partisanship that has interfered with the Senate fulfilling its role of “sober second thought”. He promised Canadians that when he becomes Prime Minister, he will also end patronage appointments to the Senate, putting in place an open, transparent, and non-partisan public process for appointing and confirming senators.

The Case for an Unelected Senate

8 Dec, 2013 | By Senator Art Eggleton | Canadian Senators frequently express frustration at getting little or no attention for the work they do -- the comprehensive policy studies, and the "sober second thought" of legislation from the House of Commons. And when the spotlight does finally settle on the upper chamber, it is over the alleged misbehaviour of a few. Without doubt, such matters need full investigation, full disclosure, and appropriate corrective action for any misdeeds.
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