Selling the oilsands strategy to the U.S.


A land-locked Alberta oil industry side-swiped by a sudden gushing of oil fracked out of the ground in the U.S. The Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Alberta trudging to the U.S., using millions in federal money for ads ... all to push the Keystone XL pipeline project that was supposed to be a no-brainer but instead is mired in opinionated controversy. Today, we look at the strategy that brought us to this point.

Panel: Jeff Gailus / Bruce Cameron / David Yager

Stephen Harper pitched the Keystone XL pipeline in New York earlier this month, the latest in an intense lobbying effort to sell the idea to U.S. leaders. A string of federal cabinet ministers preceded the Prime Minister with their attempts to woo the Obama administration.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Alberta's Alison Redford have also journeyed south to convince the Americans of the benefits of bringing bitumen from the oilsands to Gulf Coast refineries.

"The Canadian oilsands in total produce less green house gas emissions than the electric power plants in Ohio,in Indiana and even less than the agricultural state of Iowa".

Alberta Premier Alison Redford speaking at the Brookings Institution in April

She sounds a little more urgent than the Prime Minister did in 2011.

"I'm confident it will be built to avoid a decision that would be a complete no brainer".

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

The reason for the change in tone of course is the immense opposition to the project. The Canadian government has nearly doubled its advertising spending to promote the oilsands in an aggressive new lobbying push. Some 16 million dollars will be spent on newspaper ads and billboards in New York and Washington.

But some wonder if this is all a little late and heavy-handed. To discuss the government's strategy I'm joined by former Calgarian, Jeff Gailus. He's an environmental scientist and writer, and author of Little Black Lies: Corporate and Political Spin in the Global War for Oil. Jeff Gailus now lives in Missoula, Montana and that is where we reached him.

Bruce Cameron runs Return on Insight, a polling and market research firm in Calgary. Today he was in Toronto.

And David Yager is a former oilfield service executive, and is currently a management consultant in the oil and gas industry. He's also president of Alberta's Wildrose Party. David Yager was in Calgary.


This segment was produced by Edmonton Network Producer Gillian Rutherford and Calgary Network Producer Michael O'Halloran.

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Other segments from today's show:

What CSIS knew

The War on Sleep

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