Ethical Oil Institute

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The Ethical Oil Institute is a Canadian nonprofit "astroturf" organization that promotes the use oil from tar sand.


EOI's charter gives the organization's address as an office in Edmonton, Alberta, and the addresses of its organizers in Calgary, Alberta. However, EOI's Facebook page gives the organization's home as Toronto, Ontario, apparently in an attempt to hide EOI's involvement with the Canadian oil industry which is based in Alberta.

EOI's Edmonton address is identical to the Edmonton address of the law firm McLellan Ross.

Founding and personnel

EOI was founded on March 9, 2011. This was about the time the Conservative Party of Canada began using "ethical oil" as a catchphrase in the runup to the March 2011 elections.

The EOI's two shareholders and officers at the time of founding were:

  • Ezra Levant, a longtime Canadian right-wing political activist and author of Ethical Oil: the Case for Canada's Oil Sands. Levant is Chairman of the Board according to an Ottawa Sun article.
  • Thomas Ross, partner in the oilpatch law firm McLellan Ross, with which EOI shares its address. Ross is also one of the lead partners in the McLellan Ross " Initiative" which has been described in Canadian Lawyer magazine as a "Slick new oilsands cross-selling strategy".

Since then:

  • Alykhan Velshi left his job as a Conservative government spokesman in June 2011 to work as a blogger at He has since then identified himself as the Executive Director of


Donations to Canadian nonprofits are not required to be reported by either donor or donee. Oddly, one of the Ethical Oil Institute's first actions, even before public fundraising began, was to help sponsor a charity golf tournament in Calgary.

In an interview with the Hill Times (June 27, 2011), Velshi said that Levant "offered some of the $20,000 he won from a National Business Book Award for Ethical Oil to pay for the project’s start-up costs."

In the same interview, Velshi said he had "no plans for a corporate membership category". However in a Guardian interview published the following day (June 28, 2011) Velshi clarified that "if offered, he wouldn’t refuse Canadian corporate donations". In an August 2011 interview with the Huffington Post, Velshi refused to say whether EOI had actually taken Canadian corporate contributions.


EOI has sponsored ads on the Oprah Winfrey Canadian network.

External Links