Last week, Corporate Ethics International launched a multi-year ad campaign – including an online video (above), ads on Google and tourism websites, and billboards in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Minneapolis – calling on tourists to boycott Alberta over the province’s oil sands. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Tourism is important for Alberta, which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year to its wilderness parks and resorts in Banff and Jasper, and to the annual Stampede rodeo and outdoor show in Calgary.
Alberta officials and members of the oil sands industry were angry at the ad campaign. Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said in a press conference Wednesday that the campaign “does, of course, anger me to a large degree because it’s an attack on about a hundred thousand Albertans whose lives depend upon the tourism industry.”
In an interview with CTV News Channel, executive director of Corporate Ethics International Michael Marx explained the motivation for the “Rethink Alberta” campaign and why the characterization of the the effort as an “attack” isn’t accurate:
“We think the Alberta government has been pretty arrogant in ignoring the concerns of environmental groups in the U.S., in Europe and in Canada, as well as First Nations, and that it’s been deceptive in its public relations in claiming that they’re greening the tarsands,” Marx said.
“We felt like we needed to be more aggressive in calling the government out.”
He added that his group doesn’t wish to harm tourism businesses but hopes they will get involved in oilsands issues.
“Ultimately we think that the tarsands industry, by contributing to global warming, actually endangers the tourist industry,” he said.
Whether that message will resonate with Albertans is yet to be seen. Next week the group is rolling out a similar ad campaign in the UK.
Another campaign has been growing in the U.S. that hopes to block TransCanada from building the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry crude from Alberta to refineries in Texas. Henry Waxman, a prominent congressman, and 50 other legislators stated their opposition to the project.