Canadian Embassy Coaches Diplomats To Promote Tar Sands, Overstate Environmental Protection Efforts

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. 

According to the internal report “there is a strong need for consistent (Alberta and federal government) messaging and cooperation on this file. The opponents of oilsands will find ways to exploit any lack of coherence and coordination, undermining common objectives shared by (the Canadian government) and (the Alberta government) on this issue.”
Renner said at the time that the trip was intended to guarantee Alberta’s “responsible environmental approach” was “put in the proper context for those making policy and investment decisions in Europe.”
The report details how Renner developed this “proper context” by significantly overstating Alberta’s environmental protection standards, suggesting that the province had recently set new water efficiency targets requiring 100 percent water recycling by 2016.

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.”
Renner reportedly faced a heavy dose of criticism from some investors who demanded to know why Alberta, “one of the richest parts of the [world],” had not committed to reducing climate change.  Others accused Alberta of sidestepping the climate change issue by underemphasizing the true climate impacts of tar sands production.  
The international community can see through Canada’s climate inaction, says Gillian McEachern, program manager for climate and energy at Environment Defense Canada, the group responsible for obtaining the internal document.

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.”

Alberta’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been negatively counterbalanced by its efforts to sway media portrayal of the tar sands issue.  According to the Embassy document, pressure put on the media for a more favorable representation was ‘successful,’ resulting in more ‘balanced’ coverage of the tar sands.

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.”
It is troublesome, but not surprising, that the government’s ‘aggressive, proactive engagement’ is focused on media coverage rather than the plethora of environmental, public health and climate change issues surrounding the unsustainable development of the tar sands.  The Canadian Embassy document reveals that the country’s delegates are facing direct scrutiny abroad about the impact of the tar sands on the global climate.

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. 


So Canada is promoting a product that is needed and is being produced ethically and responsibly and this is something to protest?

The oil sands projects are not Dirty and do not polute as the warmists claim. This is an obvious fact that is easily verified. 

So where is the down side to promoting a resource that drives the economy of the entire country?

I have seen loads of outragous claims but never any verifiable facts to support the slander of these projects.

Gary, the real downside for environmentalists to the tar sands project, and also to frakking for natural gas anywhere, is that they represent cheap and abundant sources of conventional energy. That is the last thing they want because cheap energy undermines the plan to convert ALL energy sources to renewables and pushes the theory of Peak Oil way into the future. They will never actually say this, instead you’ll hear about all the threats to the boreal forests, etc. It doesn’t matter that, at this time, renewable energy sources aren’t practical or economical. It’s damn the economy and full speed ahead on the cliff.

As can be seen in Sailricks comment.

All the usual extremist talking points based on conjecture, assumptions and wild exagerations.

Here are some actual facts….

Aside from all the usual propaganda about water use (reused over and over BTW) and the Borial forest disinformation (It will be simply replanted…. DUH)

There is the standard propaganda claim that CO2 is a polutant.  Just silly really.

Oh well…. The development will continue and when it is all done and the industry moves out, nobody will be able tell it was ever there.

You know Gary, the more you folks lie about the tar sands being clean and ethical, the less credibility you have.Even the oil companies are starting to realize how badly you propagandists have stained them. Nobody trusts the oil companies or the politicians who cater to them anymore.

To Vj……   Like it or not, Tar sands is happening now, there’s no stopping it. If by some slim chance the enviro groups manage to stop the XL pipeline (highly doubtful) the oil is still going to be produced and sold somewhere else. These are the facts of life right now.

While I realize the pipeline protests have been a rallying point recently for environmentalists, I really think there are bigger and better battles to fight where your resources would be better spent right now. Tar sands has already happened and will continue to happen. That’s out reality now.

“is that they represent cheap and abundant sources”

It might be abundant, but it’s not cheap if you factor in socialized mitigation costs.

“They will never actually say this,”

Your tin foil hat needs adjusting.


As the comment policy clearly states, “we encourage commenters to include links to supporting information as this helps enrich the conversation. Users who make unsubstantiated claims can expect their posts to be deleted and, if they persist, their account to be deactivated.”

Link to your “easily verified” facts, please.  

For example, here is what the New York Times has to say about tar sands oil:

“It projects that Canada will double its current tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day. That rate will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest — a natural carbon reservoir. Extracting oil from tar sands is also much more complicated than pumping conventional crude oil out of the ground. It requires steam-heating the sands to produce a petroleum slurry, then further dilution.

One result of this process, the ministry says, is that greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector as a whole will rise by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2020 — even as other sectors are reducing emissions. Canada still hopes to meet the overall target it agreed to at Copenhagen in 2009 — a 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020. If it falls short, as seems likely, tar sands extraction will bear much of the blame.”

Excuse me, but that link to the NY times article is an “opinion” piece! It’s not exactly proof of the facts, ok? Opinions can be unsubstantiated as easliy as claims made in people’s comments here. You can’t just delete comments that you don’t agree with!

“Excuse me, but that link to the NY times article is an “opinion” piece!”

Errr, excuse me, but it’s a write up of a report by Environment Canada.

If you had of read it, you might have noticed that.

“It’s not exactly proof of the facts, ok?”

Yes, it is I’m afraid.

“You can’t just delete comments that you don’t agree with!”

You own this blog, are a moderator or somehow have an excemption for the comments policy?


“More deleted comments.”

Well say something that is not a lie, ad hominem or other comment policy violations.

Please ask on behalf of myself over at WUWT why they wont allow me to call them deniers, or ask who Anthony Watts works for , or why the AMS doesnt agree with him. Despite repeated attempts they delete my comments. Clearly thats not fair, when I want to be able to say those things. If you can swing that for me over at WUWT, I promise I will lobby for your right to violate the comments policy over here, deal?


If you are even half as abusive, beligerent and insulting – in flagrant violation of this site’s “stated” policy – then I’m not surprised you’re not welcome on other sites.

Yet, oddly, they seem to tolerate your obnoxious behaviour here, and your comments aren’t deleted?  If your continued offensive presence here isn’t conclusive proof of this site’s capricious and selective non-enforcement of their own phoney “policies”, then I don’t know what is?

Another feather in Desmogblog’s cap, I suppose.

“If you are even half as abusive, beligerent and insulting – in flagrant violation of this site’s “stated” policy – then I’m not surprised you’re not welcome on other sites. ”

Strangely, you don’t see the irony.

“Yet, oddly, they seem to tolerate your obnoxious behaviour here, and your comments aren’t deleted?”

Obviously not towing the fossil fuel propaganda line or right wing ideology would be interpreted as obnoxious to people like yourself. Maybe you would be happier at WUWT? You would then be free to flame the other side without penalty and indulge in right wing memes. Just sayin.

“  If your continued offensive presence here isn’t conclusive proof of this site’s capricious and selective non-enforcement”

I think you might actually be suffering delusion. Are you for real?

“If you are even half as abusive, beligerent and insulting”

If never ceases to amaze me the mindset of right wing AGW deniers. I mean, for starters, what sort of nutter comes onto a board like this with a troll, right wing name “Cuffy Miegs”  from the tea party bible “Atlas shrugged” & demands respect? Is this some sort of joke?  It’s the type of person that calls themselves “Heinrich Himmler” & joins a jewish board, then proceeds to tell the jews  the errors of their ways & mocks outrage when he is censored.

It’s like your predecessors on this board “plant food”, “recycle not” or even your contemporary “Ralph Nader”. I mean, really. You are here for no other purpose but to troll. Your name is a troll name & your ideology is highly insulting, ignorant & inflammatory & you demand to be heard?!:


Seriously, do you actually think your smug, condescending, and incredibly awkward attempt at satire is going to change anybody’s mind?

And Saul Alinsky?  Like we need another reminder that environmental movement has long been undermined and co-opted by neo-Marxists and the far left….This is obviously not about convincing anyone, so much as it is about giving vent to your left-wing frothing hatred,”

I’m actually amazed mods were so generous as to let your name be registered. Your intentions, motivation & extreme ideology should have been self evident from the outset.

It is clear you are not here to improve our understanding of AGW or even fossil fuel PR. You are here because of your ideology & paranoia.


“I’m actually amazed mods were so generous………”   Oh Please!

Phil, I’m not sure why you keep trying to attack me. All I have ever done is attempt to educate you about the science.

“Phil, I’m not sure why you keep trying to attack me. All I have ever done is attempt to educate you about the science.”

I gather you have an example?

“So Canada is promoting a product that is needed and is being produced ethically and responsibly”

Ethical how? Responsible how?

“The oil sands projects are not Dirty”

Nice oxymoron Gary. That statement needs to go into the BS hall of fame. The sad thing is, you probably believe it, so complete is the dupe….or the pay off.

“This is an obvious fact that is easily verified.”

Gary, there is nothing short of hard drugs that could easily verify that.

“So where is the down side to promoting a resource that drives the economy of the entire country?”

Profits are privatised, costs are socialized.

“I have seen loads of outragous claims but never any verifiable facts to support the slander of these projects.”

I doubt you ever will…..watching fox news & reading WTFUWT.


“The oil sands projects are not Dirty and do not polute as the warmists claim” 

Where did you learn that piece of disinformation? 

 The tar sands produce 2-3 times as much CO2 emissions as normal oil production.
 They use 5 gallons of fresh water for every gallon of oil produced

They use large amounts of comparitively clean natural gas to heat the sands and extract the bitumen, which is more like tar than oil.

 The bitumen is extremely acidic, which poses a risk of corroding a pipeline.

 The tar sands projects are endangering the Athabascan River watershed, with their effluent.  This is one of the most important watersheds in North America.

The tar sands add to the already substantial threat from mining, logging etc., to the Canadian Boreal Forest, one of the most important ecosystems on the planet, and also one of the biggest carbon sinks, as long as it remains healthy. 

 National Geographic has an excellent report on the  Boreal Forest and the threats to it’s stability.  I don’t have the link but I have found it before.

To further your education even more, see the beautifully done movie “HOME“  at YouTube


Finally something good occuring on the climate front. The green energy oilsands are an economic boom for North America and provide an ethical choice for oil consumers. There is a need for a united front on this file to combat the vast misinformation campaign currently promoted by extremist groups.

They are the greenest mining operation known to man. OIlsands come out, green forest goes in when finished.

okay thanks - well I hope that is becoming more and more true. I see the pro sands advertising lately and there’s no doubt they are putting money into renewal and developing new methods of dealing with after effects of mining.

If they get this restoration thing sorted out, then CO2 becomes the only argument against. Lets hope for that.

“developing new methods of dealing with after effects of mining.”

Or perhaps just use renewables & not have to deal with the after effects of mining at all”

Starting from 2012 we will have 3 electric vehicles on sale here in Australia, the Mitsubishi

i-MIEV , the Renault Fluence Z.E & the Nissan Leaf.

The move is picking up pace around the world.

Lets leave the liquid dinosaur juice in the ground where it belongs & stop burning things like neanderthals for energy. People born in the 50’s probably thought we would be in flying cars by now. Little did they know how much fossil fuel companies would fight for us to stay in the past.


sounds appealing - electric cars are a hard sell though. I notice on the Volt ads they emphasize that there are no range problems - jump in and drive as far as you like and then do a 5 minute fill up anywhere. - thats what gasoline is all about

And that would be a wrap as they say since CO2 is not in any way harmful, it would reduce the issue to a small temporary issue of esthetics.

see my  -3 up there on the green oil sands question? If Phill would have asked the exact same question it would have been a plus 3.

you know what would be an improvement? a list of who rated who up or down. Open voting.