Save Nonprofit Investigating the Effects of Fracking on Water Quality

Target: Sherry Campbell, President of the Gordon Foundation

Goal: Resume funding the Program on Water Issues.

A prominent research program responsible for research into the effects of fracking on water sources has had its funding cut. The Toronto based Program on Water Issues (POWI) has spent the past 15 years providing independent and nonpartisan research into water issues across Canada, fulfilling a vital role in debates about policies related to water. Subjects covered by POWI include oil sands-related water withdrawals from the Athabasca River, and the impacts of fracking on groundwater. Research by POWI was vital to the development of legislation preventing water exports from Canada and protecting the waters flowing into the Great Lakes. However, the organization was forced to close down after the Walter and Gordon Foundation, a philanthropic organization, withdrew its funding.  

Representatives of the Gordon Foundation did not give a reason for the termination of the funding and simply restated their decision. However, Robert Pace, the chair of the Gordon Foundation, is also the chair of the Canadian National Railway, a corporation that makes a significant portion of its income transporting petroleum products produced by the oil sands and fracking. The Canadian National Railway made $300 million in 2014 transporting frac sand and $2 billion transporting petroleum products from oil sands, shale and fracking operations. Representatives of the Gordon Foundation have denied that Robert Pace influenced the vote, stating that the chair does not vote on issues considered by the board.

POWI is an important institution as it provides independent research in a field full of industry- and government-dominated research institutions. It is absolutely critical that there be a trusted resource as new technologies are introduced that may affect water quality. Sign our petition and ask President of the Gordon Foundation Sherry Campbell to reconsider her organizations decision to cut funding to POWI.


Dear Ms. Campbell,

I was alarmed and saddened to hear of the decision to pull funding for the Program on Water Issues. If POWI remains closed, Canada will have lost a valuable resource for healthy public debate on issues affecting its water.

Considering the challenges that Canada will face in the future, I believe it is important for there to be a nonpartisan organization that can provide research unburdened by politics. In particular, the development new methods to extract petroleum has led to the deployment of technologies without adequate research into their effects. This has resulted in several uncontrolled leaks in Alberta, and the pollution of creeks, rivers, and groundwater.

There will be future technologies and future issues that will require unbiased research on their effects on Canadian water. I believe that Canada needs POWI and your organization is in the unique position to save it. So again I urge you to reconsider the decision to remove POWI’s funding.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: jasonwoodhead23

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