The Canadian government, on the provincial and federal level, needs to tag team on tar sands public relations, according to an internal Canadian Embassy document reported on by Mike De Souza yesterday in the Financial Post. The newly released document, obtained by Environmental Defense Canada through an access to information request, details the outcome of a 2010 overseas trip taken by Alberta’s former Environment Minister Rob Renner. According to the Embassy staff who prepared the report, international investors and stakeholders feel Canada’s lack of unified tar sands advocacy leaves the world’s dirtiest source of energy vulnerable to attack.
During a week long visit to the United Kingdom, Renner heard the concerns of invested parties who suggested Alberta take the lead in a nationwide and government-directed public relations campaign to “temper negative coverage” of the tar sands.
But as Mike De Souza reported yesterday in the Financial Post, “the actual regulations introduced in Alberta require a reduction in the growth of tailings waste from the production process, but do not set a target for recycling 100 per cent of water used by the industry.”
“If the investment community – the people who hold the financial strings – is becoming increasingly concerned about climate change, then we’re going to keep getting called on this question,” she told the Financial Times. “Not only is it bad environmental policy, but (it’s) increasingly a bad economic policy to be doing nothing.”
The report continues:
“More aggressive, proactive media engagement will play a critical role in oilsands advocacy, including engaging in more specific outlets. While this may not result in immediate positive coverage, it will serve to temper negative coverage and increase understanding of the Canadian view point.”
But in the face of such challenges, Canada is proving that media spin and dirty PR are the only tools in the nation’s toolbox.