It seems that the start of the Harper Government's $16.5 million advertising campaign to push the US to turn to Canadian energy, specifically by supporting the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands oil production, isn't quite having the impact that the Conservatives were hoping for.
Lee-Anne Goodman writes for the Canadian Press, that "efforts by the Conservative government to sell Americans on the virtues of Canadian natural resources failed to impress those south of the border, according to a new report, and even left them puzzled over assertions that Canada is America's best friend."
The $58,000 government commissioned Harris-Decima report found that the advertising push by Natural Resources Canada left focus groups in Washington D.C. "befuddled" by the campaign's tagline, "America's best friend is America's best energy solution."
But Enbridge's ploy to redirect public attention away from tar sands, pipeline and oil spill issues toward the meddling of foreign interests in Canadian affairs is misguided, to say the least. The lion's share of foreign funding that guides the Canadian resource economy does not come in the form of conservation or environmental efforts: it comes through foreign investment in the resource sector.
And in the instance of the tar sands and related pipelines, foreign investments can be a politically, environmentally and socially dangerous affair.
The move is shocking on several fronts. Firstly, the vote took place while 15 Liberal Senators were away from the capital. The vote to defeat the Climate Change Accountability Act passed by a margin of 43-32. Even more shocking is the fact that the unelected body of officials known as the Canadian Senate overturned a bill that was passed by the House of Commons -- government officials elected by the Canadian people.
Jack Layton, the leader of Canada's third party, the New Democratic Party, called the vote, "One of the most undemocratic acts that we have ever seen in the Parliament of Canada."
Environment Canada released its 2006-2007 Report on Plans and Priorities yesterday. Touting their "Made in Canada" answer to our environmental woes, the government outlines four main priorities, one of which is to "address the long-term challenge of climate change and help Canada adapt to a changing climate." Notice the careful use of language: nowhere does this goal say anything about reducing C02, only that the government will work on accommodating the effects of an impending (and clearly undeniable) change in climate.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.