In UK, Canada poses as 'Friendly Green Oil Giant'

Canada’s Natural Resources Minister named “Greenwash Propagandist of the Year” for promoting Tar Sands at London School of Economics


UK Tar Sands Network
October 20, 2011

Joe Oliver, Natural Resources Minister, met with staunch opposition at the London School of Economics (LSE) whilst promoting Canada as the next ‘Global Energy Superpower’. Protesters presented an alternative perspective to the one-sided lecture by asking difficult questions throughout.

LSE students and activists presented Joe Oliver with the ‘Greenwash Propagandist of the Year Award’ for his efforts to contort the science, dismiss the human consequences of tar sands extraction and to re-brand the world’s most destructive project as secure, reliable and sustainable.

“This lecture today was an inappropriate attempt to use an educational venue to promote the Canadian Tar Sands industry,” commented People and Planet ‘Tar Sands Free Universities’  Campaigner Liam Barrington-Bush. “Canadians should know that their ministers are embarking on an ongoing mission to undermine peer-reviewed science and efforts of European climate legislators by greenwashing the reality of tar sands extraction.”

Before departing on his mission to London, Oliver vowed war on the EU’s plans to curb emissions from tar sands.  Canada has justified its extensive EU lobbying by accusing the EU of singling out tar sands extraction unfairly by labeling tar sands as more polluting than conventional oil.

“Canadian Tar sands are not getting attention in the EU because we want to discriminate against them or sabotage the Canadian economy,” said UK Tar Sands Network campaigner Suzanne Dhaliwal. “Canada is receiving this attention because of the unprecedented attempts to undermine democratic climate legislation, and the gravity of the environmental destruction and human rights violations taking place in Canada.”

Protesters also held a banner outside, which read “Tar Sands is Blood Oil” in response to Oliver’s recent televised claim that tar sands development was in an area uninhabited by First Nations communities.

“The environmental justice movement which has galvanized around tar sands issues over the past two years has worked to support First Nations fighting for health and environmental impact assessments and the respect of their inherent treaty rights,” said Barrington-Bush. “This does not fit with the image of a ‘Friendly Green Oil Giant’ that Oliver has tried to present Canada as today.”

The impending European legislation to curb the growth of the tar sands industry has put the Canadian government on a PR offensive. Lobbying missions once reserved for parliament see ministers now desperately turning to universities to change the minds of the public.

“Fortunately, previous Canadian lobbying attempts to remove tar sands from the Fuel Quality Directive were challenged by the EU parliament and NGOs committed to reducing transport emissions,” commented Dhaliwal.

“Now Canada is calling on corporations BP, Shell and Statoil and the UK government to stop the transport legislation from going ahead. As we saw last week at Gordon Campbell’s Energy Roundtable in St James Palace, public opposition in Europe to such undemocratic behavior is growing stronger.”

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