Fraser Institute

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The Fraser Institute is a libertarian think tank based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

In August 2011, Dr. Gerry Angevine, Senior Economist in the Institute's Global Resource Center, spoke at the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force meeting at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) 2011 annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.[1]

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In 1974, a group of academics and business executives, concerned about big government, founded the Fraser Institute.[2]

At the time, there were concerns about the institute's agenda given that one of those who helped set it up, Michael Walker, an economist from the University of Western Ontario, had received financial support from the forestry giant, MacMillan-Bloedel. To allay these charges, the Fraser Institute stated that its research priorities would not be determined by its funders but by its staff, that the staff of the institute would not engage in political activity, not its funders, and that its conclusions would not be shaped to favour any political or economic group.[2].

In his book Thinking the unthinkable, Richard Cockett outlined that Antony Fisher, who founded the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) played a critical role in the development of the Fraser Institute. "On the strength of his reputation with the IEA, he was invited in 1975 to become co-director of the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, founded by the Canadian businessman Pat Boyle in 1974. Fisher let the young director of the Fraser Institute, Dr Michael Walker, get on with the intellectual output of the Institute (just as he had given free reign to Seldon and Harris at the IEA) while he himself concentrated on the fund-raising side," Cockett wrote.[3]

On page 2 of its 2005 Annual Report, the Fraser Institute features a photograph of Michael Walker with US Vice President Dick Cheney at the Eisenhower Administration Building, followed by a photograph of Canada's "future Prime Minister" Stephen Harper attending the Institute's annual general meeting.

The Fraser Institute's list of Senior Fellows includes Tom Flanagan, originally of Ottawa (Illinois), who is a professor of political science at the University of Calgary. Tom Flanagan was campaign manager to Prime Minister Stephen Harper when he headed Canada's newly formed Conservative Party in federal elections in 2004, and then again in 2005, when the Conservatives won a minority in government.[citation needed]

Other senior fellows of the institute have been deeply involved in political activity. Preston Manning is the founder of the right-wing Reform Party in Canada, which later merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to form the new Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper who became Prime Minister in 2006. Former Conservative Premier of the province of Ontario, Mike Harris, is also a fellow at the Fraser Institute.[2].

There are also questions about how much the institute's work is shaped by its corporate funders. In 1999, the Fraser Institute sponsored two conferences on the tobacco industry: "Junk Science, Junk Policy? Managing Risk and Regulation" and "Should government butt out? The pros and cons of tobacco regulation."[2].

More recently, the Fraser Institute has led the campaign to deny the science behind and the dangers of climate change, with several of its fellows and authors signing letters to political leaders and writing Op Eds to that effect. ExxonMobil donates to the Fraser Institute for "climate change" work. Professor [[Ross McKitrick, author of the popular book that denies climate change Taken By Storm and known for his opposition to the Endangered Species Act in Canada, is also a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.


An article by Donald Gutstein of Simon Fraser University examines recent rises in funding for the Fraser Institute. [1]

The Fraser Institute has sought and received funding from several tobacco companies, including Rothmans, British American Tobacco and Philip Morris, according to a 2000 letter found in the tobacco industry documents.[2]

In 2003 Fraser Institute income was $6,620,038. In its annual report it discloses that 52% was from unspecified foundations, 38% from unspecified "organizations" (presumably corporations) and only 10% from individuals.

"During the year, the Institute approached prospective donors to support over 50 specific projects including student seminars, teachers’ workshops, the elementary and secondary school report cards, environmental studies, aboriginal studies, globalization studies, global warming and the Kyoto Protocol, fiscal studies, economic freedom, managing risk and regulation, pharmaceutical and health care studies, CANSTATS, and democratic reform," it states in its 2003 annual report. [3]

While ExxonMobil discloses in it annual statements that it contributed $60,000 to the organisation to work on "Climate Change", the Fraser Institute does not explicitly disclose the contribution. [4]

According to Media Transparency between 1985 and 2003 the Fraser Institute has received 30 grants totalling $ 403,301 (unindexed for inflation) from the following U.S. foundations:

Climate change

The Fraser Institute has published material skeptical of climate change science since at least 2001, which marks the publication of Global Warming: A Guide to the Science by Willie Soon and Sallie L. Baliunas The abstract states: "There is no clear evidence, nor unique attribution, of the global effects of anthropogenic CO2 on climate."

Kenneth Green held the positions of Chief Scientist and Director of Centre for Studies in Risk, Regulation, and Environment at the Fraser Institute from 2002 to 2005. While at the Institute, Kenneth Green published many anti-Kyoto and climate change skeptical articles, notably the "Science Isn't Settled: The limitations of climate change models", together with Tim Ball and Steven Schroeder.

As reported in the Vancouver Sun [6]: "The Fraser Institute received $120,000 US from ExxonMobil in 2003-'04, according to the company's annual report. [Fraser Institute President Michael] Walker said the funding paid for the work of researcher Ken Green."

The Fraser Institute published a so-called Independent Summary for Policymakers (ISPM) on Feb. 5, 2007, just after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Summary for Policy Makers (part of the Fourth Assesment Report on Climate Change). Economist and Fraser Institute Senior Fellow Ross McKitrick served as co-ordinator of the ISPM [7]. Desmogblog leaked a late draft of the Fraser Institute ISPM in the runup to the IPCC official release [8].

Fellows and Staff

Senior Fellows

The following were Senior Fellows as of June, 2007: [9]

Senior Research Staff

Senior Administrative Staff

Editorial Advisory Board


  • Richard Cockett,Thinking the unthinkable: think-tanks and the economic counter-revolution, 1931-1983, Fontana Press, 1995, ISBN 0006375863

Contact information

4th Floor, 1770 Burrard Street
Vancouver BC Canada V6J 3G7
Tel: (604) 688-0221
Fax: (604) 688-8539
web site:

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Energy, Environment, and Agriculture 2011 Annual Meeting Task Force Meeting," speaker biographies and materials, August 4, 2011, on file with CMD
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "The Fraser Institute at 30", CBC News Online, October 12, 2004.
  3. Richard Cockett,Thinking the unthinkable: think-tanks and the economic counter-revolution, 1931-1983, Fontana Press, 1995.

External resources

External articles

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