When it comes to shipping coal, it looks like the Vancouver Port Authority is taking a page out of the U.S. coal lobby's books. In an effort to combat negative public opinion about coal and the proposed expansion of coal exports through Fraser Surrey Docks, the port authority has hired public relations firm Edelman Vancouver to revamp its image.
Edelman is the largest public relations firm in B.C. and the company has a history of both pushing coal exports and disregarding public opinion. Until recently, the firm represented the pro-coal organization Northwest Alliance for Jobs and Exports, one of the largest groups in Washington state pushing for an increase in coal exports.
Edelman was fired by the Northwest Alliance after Lauri Hennessey, Edelman vice-president and spokesperson for the alliance, was recorded at an industry conference disparaging the people of the Pacific Northwest and calling the opposition “wacky” and “weird.” At the same conference, Hennessey acknowledged climate change in her address, but argued that the coal mined in the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming — the source of the coal that would be shipped through Fraser Surrey Docks — wouldn’t have any adverse effects on the climate.
Edelman has now designed an ad campaign called Port Stories on behalf of Port Metro Vancouver. The ads have got it all: hardworking Canadians, poignant family moments and sweeping statements about how the port has shaped Vancouver as a city. There’s only one thing missing: any mention of coal.