With images of dying, bitumen-soaked ducks back in the public eye, and a new ad comparing the oil sands to sci-fi super villains, Canada's energy industry is fighting the "dirty oil" criticism with its own phrase.


t may not have quite the same zing, but the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) now wants you to think of the oil sands as "responsible oil," in a new attempt at defining the controversial industrial project in more favourable terms.

"It is not a catchphrase. It is a response to behaviour we find irresponsible," CAPP spokesman Travis Davies said.

CAPP launched the offensive after dozens of environmental activists - including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and several first nations groups - paid for an ad in Variety magazine comparing the oil sands to James Cameron's Avatar movie. They liken the industry's approach to Fort McMurray, Alta., to the galactic mining operation portrayed in Avatar, accusing oil sands companies of endangering aboriginal people, destroying ancient forests and mining a polluting substance.

That prompted CAPP to issue a press release calling critics "back to planet Earth" to discuss "responsible oil."

"How is comparing a movie where the industrial villains maim and kill indigenous people to Canada's oil sands not irresponsible and, frankly, insulting?" Mr. Davies said.

And the ad drew anger from Dave Tuccaro, one of Canada's most successful first nations businessmen, whose suite of companies profits from the oil sands.

It was the green groups that destroyed hunting as a way of life, Mr. Tuccaro argued. Today, the oil sands "has to be our livelihood. That has to be our new bow and arrow or spear," he said.

Source: Globe & Mail

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