The Fraser Institute
Fraser Institute logo.svg
Formation1974; 48 years ago (1974)
TypePublic policy think tank, charity
Headquarters1770 Burrard Street
Coordinates49°16′12″N 123°08′43″W / 49.2700°N 123.1453°W / 49.2700; -123.1453Coordinates: 49°16′12″N 123°08′43″W / 49.2700°N 123.1453°W / 49.2700; -123.1453
Niels Veldhuis

The Fraser Institute is a conservative/libertarian Canadian public policy think tank and registered charity.[1][2][3][4][5] The institute is headquartered in Vancouver, with additional offices in Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, and ties to a global network of 80 think tanks through the Economic Freedom Network.[6] It is a member of the Atlas Network of libertarian policy lobbyists.[7]

According to the January 2020 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), Fraser is number 14 (of 8,200) in the "Top Think Tanks Worldwide" and number 1 in the "Top Think Tanks in Mexico and Canada".[8]


The Fraser Institute was founded in 1974 by Michael Walker, an economist from the University of Western Ontario, and businessman T. Patrick Boyle, then a vice-president of MacMillan Bloedel. It obtained charitable status in Canada on October 22, 1974, and in the United States in 1978.[9] Its stated mission is "to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals."[10] The institute is named after the Fraser River.[6]

Sir Antony Fisher, previously instrumental in setting up the UK's Institute of Economic Affairs, was appointed acting director in 1975, until Walker became executive director in 1977.[9] In its first full year of operation, 1975, the institute reported revenues of $421,389.[9] In 1988, revenues exceed $1 million, and in 2003, $6 million.[9]

Ideological stance

The Fraser Institute describes itself as "an independent international research and educational organization",[11] and envisions "a free and prosperous world where individuals benefit from greater choice, competitive markets, and personal responsibility".[10]

Forbes has referred to the think tank as libertarian.[12] The New York Times has described the institute as libertarian.[13] Langley Times classified it as right-of-centre libertarian.[5]


As a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency, the institute files annual registered charity information returns. In 2010, the institute reported having $4.5 million CAD in assets and $10.8 million in annual revenue.[14]

The institute depends on contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations. It does not accept government grants or payments for research, however individual donors may claim tax credits for donations and corporate donors may claim tax deductions.[15]

The institute has received donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars[16] from foundations controlled by Charles and David Koch, with total donations estimated to be approximately $765,000 from 2006 to 2016.[17] It also received US$120,000 from ExxonMobil in the 2003 to 2004 fiscal period.[18] In 2016, it received a $5 million donation from Peter Munk, a Canadian businessman.[19]

In 2012, the Vancouver Observer reported that the Fraser Institute had "received over $4.3 million in the last decade from eight major American foundations including the most powerful players in oil and pharmaceuticals". According to the article, "The Fraser Institute received $1.7 million from 'sources outside Canada' in one year alone, according to the group's 2010 Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) return. Fraser Institute President Niels Veldhuis told The Vancouver Observer that the Fraser Institute does accept foreign funding, but he declined to comment on any specific donors or details about the donations."[20]

Research and publications

The institute self-publishes a variety of reports:

Education programs

The institute periodically hosts free seminars across Canada for students, teachers, and journalists, focusing on key economic concepts and timely issues in public policy.[44] In 2010, the institute hosted eight one-day student seminars, attracting more than 775 participants.[45]

The Fraser Institute also offers an internship program, to which more than 431 individuals applied in 2010.[45]

Other initiatives

Children First

Canada's first privately funded program of its kind, Children First: School Choice Trust,[46] offers tuition assistance grants to help parents in financial need send their children to an independent school of their choice. The program was discontinued in 2012.

Donner Awards

Canada's largest non-profit recognition program, the Donner Canadian Foundation Awards for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services[47] recognize non-profit social service agencies that, despite budget limitations, excel in terms of management and service delivery. Winners are selected every year in a variety of categories, and share in $60,000 prize money.[47]

School Chain Showcase

A global database of school chains, the multilingual website allows anyone to connect with school chain operators around the world.[48]


In April 2012, economist Niels Veldhuis was appointed president.[49] The institute is governed by a board of trustees. Current members of the board include Peter Brown (chairman), Mark Mitchell (vice-chairman), and Edward Belzberg (vice-chairman).[50]

Associated people

The institute has attracted some well-known individuals to its ranks, including politicians such as former Reform Party of Canada leader Preston Manning,[51] former Progressive Conservative Ontario premier Mike Harris, former Progressive Conservative Alberta premier Ralph Klein,[52] and former Liberal Newfoundland & Labrador premier Brian Tobin.[citation needed] From 1979 to 1991, the institute's senior economist was Walter Block.[53] Former Alberta Wildrose Party leader, now talk show host Danielle Smith, was associated with the Fraser Institute.[citation needed]


According to an article published in CBC News Online, some people allege that Michael Walker helped set up the institute after he received financial backing from forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel, largely to counter British Columbia's NDP government,[54] then led by premier Dave Barrett.

In late 1997, the institute set up a research program emulating the UK's Social Affairs Unit, called the Social Affairs Centre. Its founding director was Patrick Basham. The program's funding came from Rothmans International and Philip Morris.[55] When Rothmans was bought by British American Tobacco (BAT) in 1999, its funding ended,[56] and in 2000 the institute wrote to BAT asking for $50,000 per year, to be split between the Social Affairs Centre and the Centre for Risk and Regulation.[55] The letter highlighted the institute's 1999 publication Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy,[57] "which highlighted the absence of any scientific evidence for linking cancer with second-hand smoke [and] received widespread media coverage both in Canada and the United States".[55] At this time the CEO of BAT's Canadian subsidiary, Imasco, was also on the Fraser Institute's board of trustees.[56] The Fraser Institute ceased disclosing its sources of corporate funding in the 1980s.[56]

In 1999, the Fraser Institute was criticized by health professionals and scientists for sponsoring two conferences on the tobacco industry entitled Junk Science, Junk Policy? Managing Risk and Regulation and Should Government Butt Out? The Pros and Cons of Tobacco Regulation. Critics charged the institute was associating itself with the tobacco industry's many attempts to discredit authentic scientific work.[54]


  1. ^ Schultze, Rainer-Olaf; Sturm, Roland; Eberle, Dagmar (2003-02-28). Conservative Parties and Right-Wing Politics in North America: Reaping the Benefits of an Ideological Victory?. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. ISBN 978-3-8100-3812-8.
  2. ^ Clifford Krauss (28 February 2006). "In Canada, private medicine spreads". New York Times.
  3. ^ "Fraser Institute to pay tuition for poor Albertans". Calgary Herald. 18 January 2006. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  4. ^ Kai Nielsen (1985). Equality and Liberty: A Defense of Radical Egalitarianism. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-8476-7516-6.
  5. ^ a b Dan Ferguson (13 July 2011). "Passing grade for LMH". Langley Times.
  6. ^ a b c Economic Freedom Network Fraser Institute
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Media Release" (PDF). February 4, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d The Fraser Institute at 30: A Retrospective Archived 2016-03-13 at the Wayback Machine Fraser Institute
  10. ^ a b Mission Fraser Institute Archived December 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Who We Are Fraser Institute Archived February 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Tim W. Ferguson (September 20, 2004). "Competitive and Not". Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved 2010-01-11.
  13. ^ With Interest: Turning the tables on reform The New York Times
  14. ^ 2010 "Registered Charity Information Return for The Fraser Institute", Canada Revenue Agency ((citation)): Check |url= value (help)
  15. ^ Funding Overview Fraser Institute
  16. ^ "Forget Trump – 'Dark Money' from Koch brothers is shaping Republican Party". CBC News. February 27, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2017. Mayer says the Koch brothers have also given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think-tank.
  17. ^ Bramham, Daphne (September 25, 2016). "Lessons for Canada from how the Koch brothers hijacked democracy". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved February 11, 2017. And the Koch brothers are connected to Canada as the largest foreign investors in Alberta’s oilsands and as donors to the Fraser Institute, which has reportedly received $765,000 from them in the last decade.
  18. ^ "Climate-change 'skeptics' hopeful Harper accepts their view". Vancouver Sun. Canwest News Service. October 16, 2006. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2017. The Fraser Institute received $120,000 US from ExxonMobil in 2003–'04, according to the company's annual report.
  19. ^ Fraser Institute, 2016 Annual Report. Retrieved 15 Sept 2017.
  20. ^ "Charitable Fraser Institute received $4.3 million in foreign funding since 2000", Vancouver Observer, 30 August 2012 Retrieved 15 Sept 2017
  21. ^ McMahon, Fred. "Economic Freedom of the World: 2010 Report" (PDF). Fraser Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  22. ^ Fraser Institute. "Economic Freedom Network Regional and Sub-National Reports". Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  23. ^ "The Fraser Institute: Canada Ranks Sixth on Human Freedom Index, Far Ahead of United States in 20th". Yahoo! Finance. August 18, 2015.
  24. ^ Tarik El Barakah (September 3, 2015). "The Fraser Institute: Canada Ranks Sixth on Human Freedom Index, Far Ahead of United States in 20th". Morocco World News.
  25. ^ "The Human Freedom Index". CBC News’s New Brunswick First. August 20, 2015.
  26. ^ "The Human Freedom Index". FOX's Outnumbered. August 20, 2015.
  27. ^ "The Human Freedom Index ranking of Canada". CBC’s The Exchange with Amanda Lang. August 19, 2015.
  28. ^ "The Human Freedom Index ranking of Canada". CTV AM. August 18, 2015.
  29. ^ "The Human Freedom Index". CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS. August 23, 2015.
  30. ^ a b Skinner, Brett. "Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada 2010 Report" (PDF). Fraser Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  31. ^ McMahon, Fred. "Survey of Mining Companies: 2011/2012". Fraser Institute. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  32. ^ Angevine, Gerry. "Global Petroleum Survey 2011" (PDF). Fraser Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  33. ^ Veldhuis, Niels. "Canadian Provincial Investment Climate 2010 Report" (PDF). Fraser Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  34. ^ "Gun Laws do Not Reduce Criminal Violence According to New Study". Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  35. ^ "Some International Evidence on Gun Bans and Murder Rates". Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  36. ^ "Misfire: Firearm registration in Canada". Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  37. ^ School Report Cards Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine Fraser Institute
  38. ^ Compare School Rankings Fraser Institute
  39. ^ "Tax Freedom Day in Canada", Fraser Institute
  40. ^ Canadians Celebrate Tax Freedom Day on June 7, 2016 Fraser Institute
  41. ^ Personal Tax Freedom Day Calculator Fraser Institute
  42. ^ Magazines Archived 2011-07-23 at the Wayback Machine Fraser Institute
  43. ^ Veldhuis, Niels. "Did Government Stimulus Fuel Economic Growth in Canada? An Analysis of Statistics Canada Data". Fraser Institute. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  44. ^ Education Programs Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine Fraser Institute
  45. ^ a b "Fraser Institute Annual Report 2010" (PDF). Fraser Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  46. ^ Children First: School Choice Trust Fraser Institute
  47. ^ a b Donner Canadian Foundation Awards
  48. ^ School Chain Showcase Fraser Institute
  49. ^ Gyarmati, Sandor (April 18, 2012). "Local now leads Fraser Institute". Delta Optimist. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  50. ^ Board of Directors Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine Fraser Institute
  51. ^ Fraser Institute. "Preston Manning". The Fraser Institute. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  52. ^ "Founders' Award". Fraser Institute. 2019-03-20. Retrieved 2021-05-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  53. ^ Walter Block curriculum vitae on, p. 2.
  54. ^ a b "CBC News Indepth: Fraser Institute". August 11, 2010. Archived from the original on 11 August 2010.
  55. ^ a b c Fraser Institute letter of 28 January 2000 to British American Tobacco chairman Martin Broughton, Letter to Martin Broughton regarding research program in emulation of the social affairs unit, disclosed via Legacy Tobacco Documents Library.
  56. ^ a b c Donald Gutstein,, 14 October 2009, Following the money: The Fraser Institute’s tobacco papers
  57. ^ John Luik and Gio Batta Gori (1999), Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy Archived 2012-03-10 at the Wayback Machine, Vancouver: Fraser Institute