Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Canadian Taxpayers Money to Promote Fossil Fuels

The Harper government has launched a $16.5 million PR campaign to promote Canadian fossil fuels but refuses to provide details about how it is spending taxpayers money. What is known is that the campaign will sell the "benefits" of the tar sands, oil, gas, pipelines as well as other Canadian natural resources.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver would not answer questions from opposition MPs who pressed the minister for details.

Oliver is providing a training program to instruct his department’s scientists and other officials as to what they can and can't say to the press and the public. As explained by Oliver, it is “designed to help them communicate with the public.” The propaganda program will cost Canadian taxpayers half a million dollars.

Oliver said a key part of the latest advertising was aimed at promoting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. No doubt Oliver and his cohorts in the Conservative party see the writing on the wall as US President Obama and the US Department have made a number of comments of late that are not favorable to Canadian oil interests and the Keystone XL in particular.

This PR campaign has not been well received by Canadian opposition parties the NDP and the Liberals. NDP natural resources critic Peter Julian said that the new spending represents a 7,000 per cent increase in advertising budgets at Natural Resources Canada since 2010.

Julian called the campaign “political advertising,” and decried spending taxpayer dollars on training scientists to be mouthpieces for the government, particularly in light of the Conservative's efforts to silence its scientists from speaking publicly about their research.

Liberal MP Marc Garneau criticized the ruling Conservatives for providing information to sell the pipeline without doing proper oil impact assessments. Rather than fact based science the government is engaged in pro-oil propaganda. “This is irresponsible,” said Garneau. “First you do your science.”

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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