To the editor:
I was reading the Cap News on Tuesday and was most impressed that you found somebody from a parallel universe who came to visit us and comment on our environmental discussions here on the planet earth—Sooo cool! (Internationally Financed Green Machine Gathers in B.C.)
Obviously the alien creature who invaded the mind of your Black Press columnist, Tom Fletcher, has not manifested itself in our version of reality for a significant period time—so perhaps we should be tolerant of his spectacular display of ignorance and bull headed stupidity. It’s either that, or Fletcher has figured out that the money’s better if he tows the corporate-friendly line. Hmmm. I wonder.
I certainly enjoy the challenge of hearing dissenting and contrarian views on any issue, even if it only serves to sharpen my own point of view. Alas, there was no such benefit reading this bizarre intrusion into our world. For Fletcher to say that the discussion surrounding environmental issues is systemically rigged in favour of the environmentalists is light years from reality. The picture he paints of a “U.S. directed environmental movement” richly funded by all those billionaires who are lining up to unload truckloads of their money on environmental charities that are trying to get us to stop borrowing in order to reduce our consumption of the goods (that we hardly need) that the billionaires’ companies sell us… is a concept so preposterous that it just can’t occupy any part of this particular universe.
Every single day, I see full page ads in our national newspapers, I hear the head of Northern Gateway (the limited liability company, ahem) giving us her deepest pinky promises over the radio; I watch the pretty pictures on prime time TV of the BC coastline accompanied by the heartfelt voice-over cooing to us that Enbridge is “doing everything it can” to protect B.C. (Does that include setting up a limited liability company to build and operate its risk-riddled pipeline?); and on the web I constantly see the gentle invitations from the oil industry to ‘click here’ to consider their most prudent assessments of the situation and their ardent desire for prosperity and happiness for all Canadians.
This well coordinated marketing (when exactly can we call it propaganda?) is put together by the smartest minds money can buy who have conducted extensive surveys and the messages are intelligently crafted to reach the people who can be swayed—and it all costs millions upon millions of dollars.
In my casual reading of various newspapers I have noted that Enbridge planned to spend $5 million on Northern Gateway advertising in October, 2013. In the same month, our own government put out a tender for a $24-million campaign ostensibly to use our money to convince us what we need to believe. (Huh?) In the following month, the Natural Resources Ministry announced that it will spend $24 million abroad and $16 million in Canada to get the message across that ‘our’ dear energy industry is environmentally responsible. Suncor, Cenovus, CAPP, Syncrude, the shipping industry— the ads have been everywhere, constant and pervasive and influential. Advertising works.
When was the last time you saw any ad from the organizations that Fletcher rails against: Tides, ForestEthics Advocacy, Ecojustice, Georgia Straight Alliance, Dogwood Initiative? Even the better known organizations like Greenpeace and Sierra Club are only recognized for their names being in the news rather than any paid advertising. That’s because they’re dirt poor. I know the group I support (Environmental Defence) is run mostly by volunteers (all Canadian) and is perpetually short of funds and volunteers for that matter. All of these groups depend on charity and could barely afford to buy one ad for one day in a national newspaper let alone execute an integrated media campaign.
So maybe this planet might be a bit better off if Fletcher could tap his heels together three times and think to himself “There’s no place like home” and maybe the Good Witch of the North will take Fletcher and his insidious distortions back to the dark universe from which it all came.