New documents, authenticated by TransCanada, confirm that a major public relations firm advised the oil giant to undermine environmental organizations and create elaborate illusions of support for pipelines. TransCanada enlisted in strategic assistance from Edelman, a global PR company, as they realized that support for pipelines carrying tar sands crude through Canada was dissipating. The leaked documents contained language that “invoked a military battle,” calling for “add[ing] layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission and causing them to redirect their resources.” Part of the these layers included targeting individuals throughout Canada, such as grandmothers and those affiliated with small environmental advocacy groups. Neither Edelman nor TransCanada are denying that these tactics have been in place for months, but these findings are coming to light at a critical time for the oil giant. TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline going from the tar sands east to the Maritime provinces is being met with staunch opposition throughout Quebec, and its Keystone XL pipeline, which would connect the Tar Sands to ports in the American Gulf Coast, faces a very close vote in the US Senate Tuesday. Both pipelines would encourage increased production of Canada’s tar sands oil — a direct threat to any efforts to combat climate change around the world.
- Big money can buy big public relations efforts, but it can’t change the facts about dangerous tar sands oil. Tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest sources of energy on the planet, and shipping has proven to be very dangerous. This can’t be changed by expensive public relations tactics and dirty tricks.
- Attacking individuals and small environmental organizations is an act of desperation on behalf or an oil company that is fighting the facts. TransCanada is a massive company with incredible influence. The fact that TransCanada is fighting small organizations and manufacturing fake grassroots websites reveals the oil giant is worried its going to fall to the facts.
- By targeting environmental messengers, TransCanada is essentially acknowledging that activists, scientists and world leaders are getting their message across about the dangers of fossil fuels. The impact of large-scale and grassroots influencers is rippling throughout Canada: protests are becoming more apparent, and activists are being given the limelight on the media platforms that have historically created paradigm shifts in citizen behaviour. By paying big money to go in on environmentalists, TransCanada is acknowledging they are vulnerable to the truth about fossil fuels becoming known to the masses.
- Canada is moving backwards at a critical time while the rest of the world is looking forward. TransCanada is pushing for increased tar sands development at a time when the US and China are taking a stand against carbon emissions and the rest of the world continues to move away from dirty energy sources.
- P.R. Firm Urges TransCanada to Target Opponents of Its Energy East Pipeline (New York Times)
- TransCanada pressuring opponents of Energy East pipeline, documents show (Toronto Star)
- Greenpeace sees ‘dirty tricks’ in PR firm’s TransCanada plan (Globe and Mail)
- TransCanada documents on Energy East PR tactics raise concerns (Globe and Mail)
- TransCanada public relations documents on Energy East raise concerns (CTV)
- Blog post: Edelman’s TransCanada Astroturf Documents Expose Oil Industry’s Broad Attack on Public Interest (DeSmog)
Images to share
- Stop the Pipeline (Facebook/Robert Van Waarden)
- Not here (Facebook/Robert Van Waarden)
- No tar sands (Facebook/Robert Van Waarden)
- “The company hired by TransCanada, Edelman, used these same shady tactics in the United States as part of corporate misinformation campaigns, including the tobacco lobby’s efforts to deny the link between smoking and cancer, and oil industry campaigns to undermine science showing humans are causing climate change. They are intended to spread misinformation and silence public opposition. At Environmental Defence, we believe in democratic, open, informed public debate – something that TransCanada is clearly nervous about. Why else would it go so far to try to silence Canadians? We won’t be distracted from working with Canadians to speak out about Energy East’s risks”. – Statement from Environmental Defence Canada
- “They’re bringing a much more aggressive, U.S.-style politics here.They’re employing pressure tactics that I would characterize as dirty tricks.” – Greenpeace Campaigner Keith Stewart
- “I’m a grandmother,” she said. “To me it’s a sign of desperation,” she added. “It’s basically all wrong, and it takes away from the public debate we should be having.” – Maude Barlow, national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians
- “To me, it’s a smear campaign really trying to shut down the voices of local people who have legitimate concerns” Ben Powless, Ecology Ottawa
- RT @FoE_Canada Leaked documents from #TransCanada reveal Edelman PR plan to undermine public interest, attack #EnergyEast critics: http://bit.ly/1yORbsi