|Singer Neil Young, right, speaks in front of climate scientist Andrew Weaver, left, Indigenous rights advocate Eriel Derenger, second left, and Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam|
And sure enough, that chief – Allan Adam, from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation – earned his money. Last weekend, he flew to Toronto to sit on a stage next to Neil Young, the folk singer who was in town to demonize Canada’s oil industry.
Now, $55,000 might sound like a lot of money to pay, just to rent a politician for a day if all the chief did for his money was to appear on stage in Toronto beside Neil Young. But to the Tides Foundation, it’s well worth it. Think of Adam as an actor, hired to play a part in an elaborate theatrical production.
Neil Young had his role: he’s the American celebrity who can draw crowds of fawning Baby Boomer journalists. But at the end of the day, he’s just another millionaire celebrity. When he talks about the oilsands, he quickly reveals himself as a low-information know-nothing.
Adam brings what Young can’t: authenticity. Young likes to wear an Indian-style leather vest, but Adam really is an Indian, and he really lives near the oilsands.
Adam didn’t do a lot of talking in Toronto. He was more of a prop than an actor. See, the Tides Foundation is from San Francisco. And Neil Young lives on a 1,500-acre estate near San Francisco. Without Adam, this would have just been some California millionaires coming up here to boss Canadians around. That’s why they had to hire Adam, to aboriginalize their attack on Canada. It was political sleight of hand, to distract from the fact that this was a foreign assault on Canadian jobs.
Tides could have hired an actual actor, like maybe Lorne Cardinal, who played the Aboriginal policeman in the comedy series Corner Gas. But they didn’t hire an actor. They hired an elected public official. That’s the problem.
Bribing an elected official?
Adam’s official title is “chief.” But it’s not a religious or cultural title. Under the Indian Act, that’s just the legal title given to the elected mayor of an Indian Band.
The Tides Foundation put $55,000 into the bank account of a mayor to get him to take a particular political position. Depending on what Tides was getting the Chief to do, the payment might well have been a bribe. But we won't know, because no one is talking about the $55,000 payment.
How is it acceptable that a foreign lobby group can simply deposit cash into a bank account of a Canadian politician? Who else is being paid cash to oppose the oilsands?
This fact almost escaped detection. It was buried in the Tides Foundation’s 138-page filing with the IRS, who only disclosed it to get a tax break. Even then, it was shrouded in secrecy.
The money was paid to a numbered company, 850450 Alberta Ltd. Only a search of Alberta’s corporate registry revealed that 850450 Alberta Ltd. was owned by another company, called Acden Group Ltd., that had changed its name twice in the past four years. Adam and other band politicians were directors and shareholders, in trust for the band.
Doesn't sound the least bit like they were trying to hide something!
The payment was well-hidden – and Adam certainly didn’t disclose it when he was on stage with Young.
The same IRS disclosure shows Tides made 25 different payments to Canadian anti-oilsands activists in a single year, totaling well over a million dollars. And that’s just one U.S. lobby group. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund out of New York, spends $7 million a year in Canada, with an explicit campaign strategy of fomenting Aboriginal unrest, through protests and lawsuits.
If a foreign oil company – say, ExxonMobil – was depositing secret payments in the bank accounts of MPs, it would be a scandal. Those MPs would face an RCMP investigation, Exxon would likely be charged with bribery, and the media on both sides of the border would have a field day.
Yet none of those things will likely happen with Adam.
Because the Tides Foundation knows that the Canadian media and even the police are cowards when it comes to Aboriginal politicians. They don’t dare hold them to account, for fear of being called racist. If you doubt this, look at the continued success of Theresa Spence, Attawapiskat’s chief.
Tides got its money’s worth.