Friday, May 4, 2018

Oil and Gas Industry Influence in Canada

Fossil fuel industry misinformation campaigns are alive and well in Canada as is big oil's influence on both Canadian media and politicians.  Although we tend to think of the United States as the home of fossil fuel inspired fake news, Canada is also the target of front groups that undermine fact based journalism in support of the oil and gas industry. Just like the Heartland Institute in the US, Canada has its own front groups who willfully undermine the facts.

Sophisticated campaigns to fund climate denial have been around for years. As reported by the Vancouver Observer, in 2011 it was revealed that political scientist Barry Cooper of the the University of Calgary had funneled oil industry money to a climate change denial front group called Friends of Science.

The oil and gas industry works directly with media organizations to advance self serving narratives. According to the National Observer, Greenpeace leaked a Powerpoint presentation produced by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) for Postmedia’s board of directors in 2013.

The Observer reports that the oil and gas industry uses its leverage to stymie publication of materials that are harmful to its interests. The article also details how Enbridge  uses advertising pretending to be journalism.

Statistics Canada says capital spending to extract oil and gas will fall for a fourth straight year in Canada in 2018. Part of this trend can be explained by the fact that investors are more interested in cleaner sources of crude than they are in Canada's carbon-intensive tar sands.

The Conservative government of Stephen Harper which governed Canada for almost ten years was well known for its stridently pro-fossil fuel agenda.

Independent of party affiliations successive federal governments feel compelled to at least appear to be supporting the fossil fuel industry. This includes the ruling Liberal party which continues to tout its climate leadership and support for indigenous communities. The Liberals are investing more than a quarter of a million dollars to study why investment in Canada’s oil and gas industry is lagging behind the United States.

Much of the Canadian public supports climate action and questions. As reported by Global News, a recent survey conducted for the Ecofiscal Commission Canadians indicates that only slightly more than 10 percent of Canadians disagreed with the statement that the Earth is warming while 61 percent said there is conclusive or solid evidence to prove this. A total of 70 percent of Canadians said climate change is caused by human and industrial activity.

We know that the fossil fuel industry is the leading driver of climate change causing CO2 emissions. It all comes down to the fact that the oil industry has vast fortunes that it uses to secure support from political leaders and muddy the waters of science.

The presidency of Donald Trump has lent credence to fake news and emboldened big oil. However, Canada is not immune to the kind of lies and obfuscation that now pollutes the White House. As reported by the National Post, Doug Ford is vying to be premiere of Ontario and he has set up his own fake news to counter fact based news.

War on Science Makes Fossil Fuels a Climate Archvillain
Proof of disinformation from Fossil Fuel Companies
Exxon's Crimes Against Humanity
Exxon is not the Only Bad Apple: The Whole Fossil Fuel Industry is Rotten to the Core
Fossil Fuel Lies and misinformation

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