Ethical Oil busy greenwashing

Dear editor,
Although I try to avoid Tom Fletcher’s columns, as they make me queasy, I did happen to read his latest contribution.

Dear editor,Although I usually try to avoid Tom Fletcher’s syndicated columns, as they make me queasy, I did happen to read his latest contribution to our local Record, “British Columbia a real playground for eco-stunts.”In it he attacks anyone and everyone who would be so silly-headed as to voice opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, including the First Nations bands all over B.C. who are opposed to allowing pipeline construction on their ancestral lands.  Fletcher cites findings by ‘independent researcher’ Vivian Krause that scathingly expose a ‘huge money spill’ — that of certain ‘obscure organizations’ such as the Natural Resource Defence Council and the Living Oceans Society receiving funding from U.S. based foundations (gasp!).  Krause’s work is very popular right now among the laissez-faire libertarian pundits. It’s being ‘parroted’ (to use a favourite word of Tom Fletcher’s) in many places, notably on the website of the ‘Ethical Oil’ promoters.The ‘Ethical Oil’ site states that they are an ‘independent, non-profit, grassroots organization’ that receives no funding from political parties, although — well, they do gratefully accept donations from corporations, especially those who produce ‘Ethical Oil’ (also known as tar sands oil).As an interesting side note, that site was started and run until recently by Alykhan Velshi, who formerly worked as director of communications for Conservative Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and is now rejoining the (officially) political fold as a hireling in the PM’s office. Ethical Oil managed to raise enough money with their ‘grassroots fundraising’ to run slick TV ads, something their supposedly moneyed environmentalist detractors have apparently not been able to do.  One tends to wonder how many billions of dollars have been spent on corporate greenwashing and “astroturf” (read: fake grassroots) organizations over the years, in comparison to the money spent on campaigns in defence of the ecological systems we depend on.There is (used to be?) a maxim in journalism: Follow the Money.  Asking ‘who stands to benefit from this kind of propaganda/spin/etc.?’ is always a worthwhile and telling question.It’s something I had to ask about our local astroturf campaign (Comox Valley Common Sense). And I certainly found myself asking it about Tom Fletcher’s opinion piece, and wondering what on earth it is doing in our local paper anyway.Claire Gilmore,Royston

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