By Diane Farsetta on April 07, 2009

The Canadian province of Alberta, which promotes the development of its tar sands oil, "has hired a team of consultants to improve [its] image in Washington ahead of climate-change talks." The lobbyists, who Alberta is paying $40,000 a month, include former Michigan governor James Blanchard and former U.S. ambassador and Canadian diplomat Paul Fraser. "We can't rely on anyone else to tell our story," explained Alberta's premier. Alberta is concerned about U.S. president Barack Obama's "Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate," to be held in Washington, DC on April 27 and 28, and about COP15, the United Nations' next major climate change meeting, in Denmark in December 2009. Extracting oil from the tar sands emits significantly more greenhouse gases and pollutes more water than traditional oil development. National Geographic recently covered the tar sands in an in-depth article and photo essay described by one Canadian commentator as "public relations hell" for Alberta.

Comments

David Sands from the Government of Alberta here.
You have an interesting take on the National Geographic article. While the photographs were impactful, of course, the story was balanced. Lively, colourful writing, too.
We are addressing environmental impacts from developing the oil sands, and we've got to get that message out to the markets that access this resource for their own economic and social wellbeing.
Want to see precisely what we're doing - no spin? Follow this link and view the "Conversation" film. It's 100% flack-free: [http://oilsands.alberta.ca/ link here].
Cheers!

Actually, the "public relations hell" assessment of the National Geographic article came from Canadian commentator Don Martin, in the op/ed piece linked to in the Spin.

The Alberta Government site that David linked for us says that "only 5% of Canada's emissions comes from the Oil Sands" - but that is 5% from one single oil producing site, so it is significant. I suppose another way to look at it is that "Canada could reduce it's total emissions in one single swipe by shutting in the tar sands". That is significant too.

It is obvious that this PR "branding" campaign is not fair and balanced, it is a blatant attempt by the Alberta Government to assuage the public opinion on the tar sands. The question must be asked: "Why is the Alberta Government putting in ANY effort to shape public opinion for any corporate entity?"

The job of government is to represent the electorate, and I would bet that a majority of Albertans would say "SHUT IT IN" if they knew the whole story, from royalty holidays and exploration grants to the pollution/cancer-causing toxins from it's operations, and destruction of the Athabasca River.

IT AIN'T WORTH IT - financially, environmentally, morally - for Albertans.... it is only worth something to the investors, none of whom cares a hoot for the Fort Chipewan people or the River or the Fort Mac area landscape, or the ducks.

great encouragement by the author.

debt recovery

The job of government is to represent the electorate, and I would bet that a majority of Albertans would say shut in in if they knew the whole story, from royalty holidays and exploration grants to the pollution/cancer-causing toxins from it's operations, and destruction of the Athabasca River.transfer smart

this is a very good initiative i really apperciate that keep up your good work