Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The pipeline debate heats up

As we move into a very interesting period of discussion and debate over the idea of a pipline between Alberta and BC I would like to point out how at the very early stages the Neo-cons are using the rules of disinformation to their advantage. A quick Google review of some of the stories shows how this technique is working. I suspect that over the next months, we will see all of the rules of disinformation put into play over this issue by the government of the day The rules they are using are in bold the news articles with sources are in italics. As I get more examplesof how the government is using these techniques,  I will post them. The problem as I see it is the progressive movement will feel the need to counter the disinformation rather than staying the course and keeping the focus on the needs of the environment, the First Nations, and the people whose lives will be affected if this pipeline is allowed to go through.

Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the 'How dare you!' gambit.
The issue of Ethical Oil is the start.  The ethical oil campaign began with Ezra Levant, a political activist and lawyer with close ties to government. For the record, Levant is a former tobacco lobbyist and a convicted libeler. He is also a political extremist who has demanded the jailing of Greenpeace leaders. (Greenpeace, a civic organization with 3 million members, has poked fun of Alberta's one party petro state. The Saudis, by the way, fear transparency and accountability and don't like Greenpeace either.) Source:

The Ethical Oil idea started bby Levant is now touted by  Alykhan Velshi. Who is Mr. Velshi you may ask, well here is some background on the man.

You've got to hand it to Alykhan Velshi: for such a tender age, he seems to be remarkably well-versed in the dark arts of spin and misdirection.

Many people outside of Alberta believe the Canadian state's tar sands industry to be the most environmental destructive energy extraction industry in the world. But not Velshi, a 27-year-old neocon political communications adviser, who, until a few months ago, was the right-hand man to Canada's immigration minister. This week, he has relaunched a website aimed at extolling the virtues of, ahem, Canada's "ethical oil".

The term "ethical oil" was first coined two years ago in a book by a conservative activist and pundit called Ezra Levant. But Velshi has picked up the term and, well, not just run with it, but sprinted off towards the horizon at a pace that would shame Usain Bolt. Click on to's new homepage and you soon get a taste of Velshi's reasoning as to why Canada's tar sands industry is so virtuous raised by a neo conservative think tank that has ties to  Environmental groups say the Harper government is engaging in diversionary tactics aimed at tarnishing the image of pipeline opponents and deflecting attention from the serious risks posed by the project. Source:

While most Canadian environmental groups are charities and must disclose the sources of their funds, Ethical Oil does not. Ms. Marshall said that the group accepted money from only Canadians and Canadian companies, although she declined to directly say if that included Canadian corporations controlled by foreign entities. Many of the large energy companies active in the oil sands are foreign-owned or -controlled.  “You can look up the definition of a Canadian company,” she said Source:

Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent's argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.  ExampleFederal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has slammed "environmental and other radical groups" campaigning against the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal to connect Alberta's oilsands to a new marine terminal in Kitimat, B.C.

"Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth," said Oliver in an open letter published Monday. "They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources." Source:

In his letter, Mr. Oliver declared that Canada’s regulatory system was “broken” and suggested that reviews could be done in a“quicker and more streamlined fashion.”

His letter does not outline suggestions for how that can be achieved, and his office did not respond to requests for comment. But representatives of several Canadian environmental groups said they believed that the government planned to severely restrict public input on environmental assessments.

But last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper also suggested that foreign interests were taking over Canada’s regulatory process Source:

Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the primary 'attack the messenger' ploy, though other methods qualify as variants of that approach. Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as 'kooks', 'right-wing', 'liberal', 'left-wing', 'terrorists', 'conspiracy buffs', 'radicals', 'militia', 'racists', 'religious fanatics', 'sexual deviates', and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues. For Example, In an interview Monday, Mr. Oliver deliver a blunt message – that the independent panel reviewing the Gateway pipeline should not allow foreign-backed opponents to hijack the hearings and kill the project through tactical delays. He goes on to say in a CBC interview Environmental and other "radical groups" are trying to block trade and undermine Canada's economy, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Monday.

Oliver's comments come one day before federal regulatory hearings begin on whether to approve Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline, which would deliver crude from Alberta's oilsands to Kitimat, B.C., for shipment to Asia Source:

Question motives. Twist or amplify any fact, which could be taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive. For example, Minister Joe Oliver singled out a Canadian charity, Tides Canada Inc., for channelling U.S. donor money to pipeline opponents, while the Prime Minister’s Office took aim at the Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council. Source:

Change the subject. Usually in connection with one of the other ploys listed here, find a way to side-track the discussion with abrasive or controversial comments in hopes of turning attention to a new, more manageable topic. This works especially well with companions who can 'argue' with you over the new topic and polarize the discussion arena in order to avoid discussing more key issues. For Example While Oliver took aim at foreign funding for environment groups, foreign investment is a major part of the oilsands. American, British, Chinese, French and Norwegian companies have all invested in the oilsands. The difference, Oliver says, is that Canada needs the foreign capital.

"They’re helping us build infrastructure to help us diversify our market. Other groups are trying to impede … the economic progress; they’re trying to block development; they’re trying to block projects which will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in government revenue and trillions of dollars in economic development. That’s the fundamental difference. Source: "

Silence critics. (This appears to be our current governments favourite tactic)  If the above methods do not prevail, consider removing opponents from circulation by some definitive solution so that the need to address issues is removed entirely. This can be by their death, arrest and detention, blackmail or destruction of theircharacter by release of blackmail information, or merely by destroying them financially, emotionally, or severely damaging their health. Example:  Sources say the government isn't just talking, CBC's Margo McDiarmid reports, but will be targeting environmental groups when the House finance committee reviews charitable funding next month.

The committee could recommend changing the rules to stop them from getting U.S. money. Sierra Club's John Bennett says he's worried. Source:

An environmental umbrella group wants Ottawa to reverse a decision to pull its funding, though the government says the move is necessary during a time of fiscal restraint.

The Canadian Environmental Network (RCEN) received notice Thursday that it would not receive $547,000 in core funding that the government had previously said it intended to provide.

Olivier Kolmel, the chairman of the organization's board of directors, said Ottawa did not give any warning that it would cut off its funding next year. Source:

1 comment:

  1. I like Ezra levant. In a democracy it's important to have differing points of view. Sun News isn't a station that has a lot of money: They're an underdog. You can keep Ezra's right-wing fanaticism in perspective, but he is entertaining!