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New details of Canadian government’s tar sands cheerleading campaign

This article is not new but I felt it was important to mention it given the shocking length to which our federal government is willing to go to lobby on behalf of the tar sands. As you likely know, the European Union has proposed classifying crude produced from Alberta’s tar sands as much dirtier than other fuels. The Canadian government is well known to be fighting this move but now an examination of hundreds of pages of documents obtained under access to information legislation in both Brussels and Ottawa show just how extensive the government’s lobbying efforts have been.

Remember, lobbying efforts by corporations are nothing new. What’s important to keep in mind here is that this is a sovereign state fighting on behalf of some of the largest corporations in the world. Here is an excerpt from the article:

The governments of Canada and Alberta, along with Canadian companies, have wooed dozens of European parliamentarians, offered trips to Alberta and sponsored conferences in an effort that Chris Davies, a British Liberal Member of the European Parliament and a backer of the EU proposal, said “has been stunning in its intensity.”

Satu Hassi, a Finnish MEP for the Greens and another backer of the EU proposal, said the thing that sets Canada’s campaign apart is not its size but its official backing. “There have been massive lobbying campaigns by the car industry, by the chemicals industry, banks, food giants, etc. But so far I have not seen such a lobbying campaign by any state.”

Emails from Canadian diplomats and other documents show Canada feared negative publicity could hit tens of billions of dollars of investment in its industry by such European majors as Royal Dutch Shell, BP, France’s Total and Norway’s Statoil.

“The oil sands are posing a growing reputational problem, with the oil sands defining the Canadian brand,” London-based Canadian diplomat Sushma Gera wrote in a confidential e-mail on August 20, 2010, which like many of the documents acquired through Freedom of Information legislation has been redacted. “With (a) recent increase in the NGO campaigns targeting (the European) public, we anticipate increased risk to Canadian interests much beyond the oil sands.”

Last year, Natural Resources Minister Joe Olive sent a letter to European officials implying that if Europe pressed ahead with tagging tar sands dirtier, Canada would take its case to the World Trade Organisation.

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