Business

Anti-oilsands video has 'editing error'

The U.S. group behind a controversial new ad campaign urging American tourists to avoid Alberta, Corporate Ethics International, says an error found its way into an online video.

U.S. group admits mistake about size of area affected

The U.S. group behind a controversial new ad campaign urging American tourists to avoid Alberta, Corporate Ethics International, said Friday that an error found its way into an online video.

Its Rethink Alberta website posted a 90-second video that said oilsands development in Alberta is destroying an area twice the size of England.

The group behind an ad campaign urging American tourists to avoid Alberta says it has had to shut down an online forum due to excessive profanity. ((Canadian Press))

Kenny Bruno, a spokesman for Corporate Ethics International, said the video meant to say the area is actually the size of England, period. That's about 130,000 square kilometres.

Bruno blamed an "editing error" for the discrepancy, and said all the group's information comes from reputable, credible Canadian sources.

He said the mistake shouldn't undermine his group's anti-oilsands message. 

"All the facts that we put out are taken from reputable, credible Canadian sources. Yes, there was one editing error. I hope that that's not the entire focus," Bruno said. 

"Our goal here is to reform and clean up that industry and its reckless expansion. We've got a lot bigger issues than one editing error."

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has said the land that's been disturbed actually equals about 550 square kilometres.

More than three quarters of oilsands reserves are too deep to be extracted by surface mining and must be removed using steam technology to melt the bitumen so it will flow to the surface.

"Both the U.S. and Canada have advertising standards to protect the public from claims that are not truthful, fair and accurate," Janet Annesley, CAPP's vice-president of communications, said in a release.

"We suggest to Corporate Ethics International the only ethical response is a full correction to their ads, website and statements to media," she said.

The Rethink Alberta video cuts from idyllic scenes of the Alberta Rockies to oilsands waste spewing into tailings ponds.

Online forum suspended 

Reaction got so heated on the Rethink Alberta website that the group had to suspend an online forum. 

"We don't mind criticism, certainly," Bruno said. "But when it's just swear word after swear word, unfortunately we can't keep that up on the website. It wouldn't be right."

"I think they're unfair. They're disappointing, and as all other Albertans and Canadians, I'm angry about them," Environment Minister Jim Prentice told the media Friday after he met in Calgary with local business leaders about the economy. 

"All Canadians really have an obligation to speak up about this and point out that we are an environmentally responsible producer of the resource."

The anti-oilsands campaign is achieving its goal, Bruno said

"One of the purposes of this campaign is to draw attention to the fact that the tarsands even exist, which outside of Canada is not very well known. Of course we're pleased to see that we've provoked a conversation."

With files from The Canadian Press

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