Oil sands publicity stunts … it’s just business

Much has been written about the latest flyby smear of the oil sands by another self-serving Hollywood celebrity.

Much has been written about the latest flyby smear of the oil sands by another self-serving Hollywood celebrity. As usual such tedious appearances reek of hypocrisy and elitism. They are tightly controlled stunts by the usual cabal of devious lobby groups who pay for these events. There is even a reason why celebrities are preferred for these shows – it’s not because of the cause they might believe in, it’s because they are professional actors and can be counted on to rehearse their part, stick to a specific script and attract media attention. Part of the script usually includes roles for disgruntled locals or better yet indigenous people, most of whom are paid to be part of the show.

These events are part of a carefully staged movie scene complete with directors, writers, and road managers; they even bring their own photographers and cameramen. All this activity is planned and financed by investments from rich lobby groups such as Greenpeace with $100 million annual budget, and they want to see results from these events that they can use to further advance their real business.

Many years ago, after trying to dissect the motives behind these deeds of absurdity by nefarious folks from faraway, it dawned on me that all these PR exercises have nothing to do with the cause but instead are just part of the business plan of green lobby groups. That’s right, these groups are global businesses with multi-million dollar budgets, expensive offices and have large payrolls of managers, directors, professionals and consultants. All these lobby groups have one thing in common – an insatiable need for ever-increasing donations from gullible supporters to keep their businesses viable. That’s no easy task as the competition between green lobby groups for donors can be fearsome.

That’s why these groups hire the best campaign managers, budget directors, strategists and communication experts. There are entire advertising companies and law firms who focus entirely on providing services to the green lobby industry. There are even trade conventions that cater to this industry where they can meet and carve up the green cause pie. Few folks are aware that these shameless groups collude over who will take the lead role on a specific cause. They may be competitors but they still want to avoid wasteful duplication. Many of them are interconnected with other lobby sectors like animal rights and vegetarianism. They loan each other money and employees and are masters at money laundering donations between organizations and through conniving wealthy American Foundations.

It’s no accident that the oil sands are a favourite target – they’re easy to pick on. Access is open and convenient and they provide ample opportunity for damaging images. The mainstream media is easily duped into paying attention to a staged stunt by using a celebrity as a lure. Stunt organizers rig news conferences by using supporters and questions from their own news media (the green lobby industry has developed its own news media business). Part of that service is providing other media outlets with high quality video and images that disparage the oil sands and the energy industry in general.

This approach works well as it provides a steady stream of self-generated news and images that can be used in their own glossy publications and propaganda campaigns to impress donors and keep them donating. That’s why this has all become such an important business practice. These groups could not carry out these types of self-promotion and anti-energy activities in more oppressive countries like China, Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela (which has oil sands deposits almost the size of Alberta’s). Greenpeace protestors would quickly find themselves in hell-hole prisons if they tried to do there what they do here – but then lobby groups are practical and reduce risk factors when planning stunts. Getting arrested in Canada for a cause has good PR value and is relatively hazard free thanks to lenient legal consequences.

The best approach is to ignore these devious zealots and let them get on with their business and leave – they are not interested in engaging with anyone in a fair and open forum. These folks have a script and timeline to follow and must deliver a pre-determined product that their employers have paid for. Governments need to stop taking the bait and stop giving them more free promotion. Ironically, the strategists at Greenpeace would know that the last thing they want is for the oil sands to shut down – that would put a big hole in their donation campaign business plan.

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