The controversies surrounding the federal cabinet's impending decision on the sale of majority share in Nexen to CNOOC (the Chinese government-owned oil company) and Enbridge's intention to build the Northern Gateway pipeline to coastal B.C. took a sinister turn this week.
It's one thing for Enbridge to build support for their endeavour with ads, as they have - it's their money. It's something else for the government of Canada to run ads extolling the benefits of steel fabricators, pipeline contractors and tanker facilities for our economy. While the ads don't specifically mention Nexen or Northern Gateway, the message is clear: This activity is good for you and therefore beyond question. However, many other activities are good for our economy. Why the focus on just the oil sector?
These federal promotional pieces for the petroleum industry are ethically wrong and the timing is suspect. The government just announced a delay on the Nexen decision until December. Knowing the public opposition to this sale, and to the Gateway project, the ad seems designed to reduce resistance.
But more disturbingly, why is the federal government taking sides in this contentious debate and acting as cheerleader for the industry? Aren't they supposed to be independent arbiters? And if they decide to take sides, shouldn't funding for these ads come from the Conservative Party of Canada, rather than the taxpayer?
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