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Globe to Harper govt: Stop 'smearing' green critics

The federal government's claim that Canada's environmental movement is "laundering" money for foreign charities is apparently part of a deliberate campaign to "smear and intimidate" its critics, reads a Globe and Mail editorial.

"Environment Minister [Peter Kent] has accused unnamed environmental charities of criminal activity, and yet provides no specifics," reads the editorial, which runs in the Globe's Monday edition.

"There is paranoia, there is partisanship, there are wild allegations. But evidence? No."

In a CBC interview on Saturday, Kent told host Evan Solomon that "there have been concerns that some Canadian charitable agencies have been used to launder offshore foreign funds for inappropriate uses against Canadian interests."

Kent has since publicly repeated the accusations several times.

His comments are the latest chapter in a government narrative that began on the eve of the Northern Gateway hearings last January.

That was when natural resources minister Joe Oliver released his infamous open letter accusing "environmental and other radical groups" of accepting funding from "foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada's national economic interest."

Three months later, Stephen Harper's government announced $8 million in its 2012 budget to restrict the political activities of charities.

And now come environment minister Kent's latest comments, "part of an apparent campaign of the Conservative government to smear and intimidate groups opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline," reads the Globe editorial.

"Charities give money outside of national boundaries – so what?" it adds. "An environmental disaster on Canada’s West Coast would concern people outside of Canada, especially Americans. If there is anything nefarious here, it is hard to see what it is."

Geoff Dembicki reports on energy and climate issues for The Tyee.

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