ethical oil

Wed, 2014-04-09 13:06Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Greenpeace Complaint Against Ethical Oil Brings “Corrosive Effect of Oil on Our Politics” to Light

When Greenpeace Canada’s climate and energy campaigner Keith Stewart filed an official complaint with Elections Canada, he did a lot more than question the implications of the Ethical Oil Institute’s collusion with the Conservative Party of Canada: he called national attention to the corrosive effect oil money has had on Canadian politics in recent years.

At the broadest level,” Stewart told DeSmog Canada via e-mail, “we are trying to rebalance the playing field between money and people power in Canadian politics. You can never eliminate the influence of money on politics, but you can limit it and make it more transparent.”

Greenpeace’s request for an investigation is based on the fact that corporate donations to political parties are banned in federal politics — yet money raised by the Ethical Oil Institute appears to have been spent on advertising and other activities developed and implemented by people directly involved in the Conservative Party of Canada. The institute does not disclose its funding sources, but its website states it does “accept donations from Canadian individuals and companies, including those working to produce Ethical Oil.”

Sun, 2014-03-30 14:06Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Why, When We Know So Much, Are We Doing So Little?: Jim Hoggan on the Polluted Environment and the Polluted Public Square

jim hoggan, the polluted public square

Speak the truth, but not to punish.”

These are the words the famous Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh told DeSmogBlog and DeSmog Canada founder, president and contributor Jim Hoggan one afternoon in a conversation about environmental advocacy and the collapse of productive public discourse.

Over the course of three years Hoggan has engaged the minds of communications specialists, philosophers, leading public intellectuals and spiritual leaders while writing a book designed to address the bewildering question: “why, when we know so much about the global environmental crisis, are we doing so little?”

Hoggan recently recounted some of the insights he has gained into this question when he spoke at the Walrus Talks “The Art of Conversation.”

He begins with the basic axiom shared by cognitive scientist Dan Kahan, “just as you can pollute the natural environment, you can pollute public conversations.” From that the logic follows – if we’re serious about resolving our environmental problems, we are going to have to attend equally to the state of our public discourse.

In Canada, says Hoggan, we face particular challenges when it comes to polluted pubic conversations, especially with the heightened tenor of rhetoric regarding environmentalism and energy issues surrounding the oilsands and proposed pipelines.

The ethical oil, foreign funded radicals campaign,” he says, “has made Canadians less able to weigh facts honestly, disagree constructively, and think things through collectively.”

Tue, 2013-09-10 20:46Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

The Polluted Public Square: How Democracy Suffers from Mistrust and Disengagement

The Polluted Public Square Jim Hoggan

Recently DeSmogBlog.com and DeSmog.ca founder Jim Hoggan spoke with Pamela McCall on CFAX 1070 about his upcoming participation in an workshop series put on by The Walrus Talks called The Art of Conversation

Jim has written extensively about what he calls the “Polluted Public Square,” a concept he is refining for his upcoming book of that title. Jim's expertise in the world of public relations puts him at a particular advantage when parsing out just how public conversations are used and abused to shape public perception, especially on controversial topics. But more crucially, he sees the way the public is disengaging from the social fora our democratic institutions rely upon. The answer to the question Jim has been seeking - why when we know so much are we doing so little? - has to do with a widespread case of social mistrust that points back to the fundamental problem of the polluted public square.

Jim had the opportunity to delve a little more into his research and how it all ties into the upcoming event The Art of Conversation in his discussion with Pamela McCall. Listen below or scroll down for a transcript of the interview.

Mon, 2013-04-22 10:11Meribeth Deen
Meribeth Deen's picture

Charity Series Part 1: Canadaʼs Fake Non-debate on the Definition of “Charity”

Ethical Oil Jamie Ellerton

This is Part 1 in a four-part series outlining the attack on Canadian charities and the consequences of that attack. Read Part 2, Charities and Self-Censorship: Is Canada Going the Way of the UK?

In testifying before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to deal with charity provisions in the 2012 Federal Budget, Jamie Ellerton, the Executive Director of Ethical Oil, offered a succinct definition of charity. “If you need to debate whether or not something is charitable,” he told the House, “it is not.”

Ellertonʼs definition of charity, takes 400 years worth of legal debate on the definition of charity, and wraps it up so tightly, makes it so simple, that one would wonder why it ever need be debated at all. If his were the working definition, charitable work would be limited to such tasks as feeding the hungry and planting trees.

Charities would have no say in making change to end hunger or protecting trees that are already standing. They would be mute players, picking up the pieces when government fails to protect the public interest. It is all too clear that the simple definition might be preferred by a government intent on ending conversations - or at least controlling them.

Ethical Oil

Ethical Oil is a pro-Alberta tar sands organization founded by Sun Media personality and conservative political activist Ezra Levant.

Here is a summary of our news and analysis of Ethical Oil:

ethical oil

Read more: Ethical Oil
Wed, 2013-03-27 09:10Patrick Eldridge
Patrick Eldridge's picture

Canada Closed for Debate 3: Carrying a Concealed Motive

This is part three in a series on bad arguments in the Canadian public sphere. The aim of this series is to take a closer look at the soft-serve reasoning employed by public leaders in order to see how they are unconvincing and even harmful to open discourse. Get caught up with part one concerning topic laundering and part two on reductio-ad-villainum. 

The present piece is about ‘carrying a concealed motive.’

Carrying a concealed motive: this species of bad argument hides the goals it wishes to achieve and presents other insincere objectives that are more palatable to the public. It consists of the refusal to be forthcoming about the intentions behind an argument, as though that were immaterial to the debate.

Canadians as a whole frequently have difficulty admitting that they want something – we keep our eyes on the last honey-cruller at the office party and when it’s offered to us we say ‘Oh no, you go ahead and have it’ and a little bit of us dies as the last glazed morsel irrevocably vanishes. In political debate, however, it’s necessary to be clear about what we want in a piece of legislation and how we stand to gain by its passage. 

Mon, 2013-03-25 09:27Patrick Eldridge
Patrick Eldridge's picture

Canada Closed for Debate 2: Vilify Your Opponent

This post is Part 2 of the Canada Closed for Debate Series, a four-part exploration of argumentation in Canadian political discourse. For Part 1, click here. Read Part 3, Carrying a Concealed Motive or Part 4, What to do about Bad Arguments?

This is part two of a series on the types of bad arguments frequently found in the Canadian public sphere. The purpose of this series is to provide a taxonomy of demagoguery and to see how these arguments (as put forward by such polarizing campaigns as ‘Ethical Oil’) are harmful to our democracy. The first part concerned topic laundering.

The topic launderer puts a stop to open debate by refusing to answer questions and then changing topic to confuse everyone as to what the debate is really about. This part is about reductio-ad-villainum (reducing your opponent to a villain) in which a peculiar form of libel puts on the cloak of rational argument.

Reductio-ad-Villainum: This style of arguing consists in recasting an opponent’s position to make it look morally bankrupt. It is a curious species of character assassination. You do not have to dig up any dirt on your opponent (that after all requires some research). All you have to do is reframe their position to make the argument itself look dishonourable.

Fri, 2013-03-22 05:00Patrick Eldridge
Patrick Eldridge's picture

Canada Closed for Debate 1: How the Ethical Oil Campaign Launders Dirty Arguments

This post is Part 1 of the Canada Closed for Debate Series, a four-part exploration of argumentation in Canadian political discourse. Read the second part on villifying your opponent, the second part on reductio-ad-villainum, and the third part on carrying a concealed motive to get caught up.   

There are certain things that tolerant people should not tolerate.

There is a very peculiar kind of dishonesty in the Canadian political sphere that we see through but seem to tolerate all the same. These are bad arguments made by our public leaders. 

There is a difference between a bad argument and an invalid argument. An invalid argument is one where the speaker has made a mistake in drawing a conclusion from the premises – a sort of logical gaffe. We can argue in good faith but still get it wrong. A bad argument is one where the speaker conceals his aims, misconstrues opposing opinions, and relies on rhetoric to convince the audience. 

Bad arguments are easy to spot and I consider myself something of a zoologist of bad arguments in the ecosystem of Canadian politics. Here is a brief taxonomy I have compiled: a) topic laundering; b) reductio-ad-villainum; c) carrying a concealed motive. In this instalment we take a closer look at the topic launderer in its natural habitat.

Tue, 2013-03-19 10:23Jeff Gailus
Jeff Gailus's picture

A Short History of Greenwashing the Tar Sands, Part 1

This is Part One of a three-part series on the political greenwashing of the tar sands in Canada.

When I hatched the idea to write a book about the use of spin and propaganda in the battle over the tar sands, a close friend of mine suggested I avoid the term “tar sands.” His logic was simple: using this term, which has become a pejorative, would turn some people off, people who might benefit, he said, from reading my book.

His recommendation was meant to be helpful, but it speaks to the power of manipulating language to make people believe something appears to be something that it is not. “Greenwashing” refers to the strategy of intentionally exaggerating a product’s environmental credentials in order to sell it, and nowhere has greenwashing been more generously used than in the promotion of the tar sands and the new and bigger pipelines that proponents hope will carry it around the world.

Greenwashing is fairly recent phenomenon—it was only added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1999—but it has become commonplace as public concern has grown over the spate of environmental problems we now face, and as consumers demand “greener” products as a means of solving them. The most recent analysis by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing found that although the number of green products is growing, the marketing of more than 95 per cent of them still commits one the seven sins of greenwashing.

Tue, 2013-03-12 05:00David Ravensbergen
David Ravensbergen's picture

Hugo Chávez: Ethical Oil's Accidental Salesman, Part 1

This post is the first in a two-part series. For Part 2, click here.

In death as in life, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez has provoked more than his fair share of criticism and commentary in Canada. When the elected socialist leader died on March 5th after a two-year struggle with cancer, Canadians were quick to offer their condolences—with varying degrees of tact.

Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien reminisced about Chávez’s fondness for baseball, and noted his frank willingness to criticize the United States. NDP member of Parliament Paul Dewar extended his sympathies to the Chávez family and affirmed the ongoing relationship between Canada and Venezuela.

At the current Prime Minister’s Office, Stephen Harper painted Chávez’s death as an opportunity for the people of Venezuela to “build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.” This statement drew a formal complaint from the Venezuelan government, criticizing Harper for making “insensitive and impertinent statements” while the country grieves. 

Harper had long considered Chávez to be an ideological opponent and an obstacle to progress in the Western Hemisphere, feelings he made clear in a 2009 Postmedia News interview before the Summit of the Americas. During the interview, Harper described Chávez as the leader of “an authoritarian state run on petro dollars” who was “opposed to basically sound economic policies.”

Pages

Subscribe to ethical oil