When the UCP government announced it was setting up a “war room” to counter all the disinformation being spread about the Canadian energy industry, I thought, “Great. It’s about time someone fought back.”
The foes of our oil, gas and oilsands are extremely well-organized, well-funded and determined to crush Alberta’s economy by landlocking our resources and preventing them from getting to market. (You know, like the federal Liberal government is.)
So the Kenney government was going to put together a group of skilled researchers and message-makers who would be sure the facts and the positive side about our energy got out.
The UCP even hired Claudia Cattaneo to set up what they were calling the Canadian Energy Centre. A masterstroke.
Cattaneo had recently retired as the Western business columnist for the National Post and was one of the finest business journalists in the country. She knew the industry. She knew the statistics. And she had contacts everywhere — in the oil company towers, at the think tanks and throughout academia.
If anyone was capable of revealing the hysteria and fog of the anti-oil campaigners, then marshalling smart, understandable counter-arguments, it was Cattaneo.
So what has gone so wrong? Why has the Canadian Energy Centre (CEC) spent the first two months of its existence lurching from one screw-up to the next?
First, Cattaneo is not in charge. Turns out the veteran Financial Post writer was only given a short-term contract to work out the details of what the centre should do.
Since she left, the centre has become an amateur hour, seemingly employing second-rate operators who think their job is to grapple with extremists head-to-head — to counter the other side’s spin with spin of their own.
The trouble is, that’s not what the centre is for and, besides, they’re not very good at it anyway.
The CEC was to suppose to dig up economic and environmental facts and be ready quickly to respond in regular and social media to rhetorical and ideological attacks by climate alarmists.
If “greens” claimed the oilsands were the worse environmental project on the planet, the CEC was supposed to show how new projects are vastly less emissions-intensive then, say, conventional drilling in Venezuela.
If eco-extremists insisted Trans Mountain was unsafe, the CEC was to distribute easily digestible material explaining the measures being taken to preserve rivers along its route or safeguard orcas.
Under Cattaneo, that’s what it would have done. And the CEC would have built relationships with oil-supportive journalists it might have called up with the odd story idea.
Instead, the centre has decided it’s just easier to take other people’s claims and retweet them — accurate or not — followed by social media spats with environmentalists and mainstream media.
Wednesday, when some staffer at the CEC objected to a New York Times article on how some international investors are reluctant to fund oilsands developments, he or she used the centre’s Twitter account to accuse the Times of anti-Semitism and (like the Trump White House) claim the NYT is “not the most dependable source.”
On Tuesday, when someone at the CEC retweeted a pro-oilsands post that was clearly wrong, that was followed by the lame excuse, “Whoops … I was givener this morning and got a little carried away.”
It should be obvious the job of the CEC is precisely not to “give ‘er” or to get “carried away.”
It’s beginning to look as though the Canadian Energy Centre, far from employing a squad of Claudia Cattaneos, is populated by a bunch of too-cool-for-school hacks.
Since the CEC is seen as speaking for Premier Jason Kenney and for Alberta’s energy sector, its incompetence reflects badly on both Kenney and our leading industry.
Benoit Paire has been entertaining his fans on social media.
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Mr. Sauter demonstrates a remarkable lack of self-awareness. I have not forgotten CBS News’ antics of the precise kind described in his remarks during the tenure of President Ronald Reagan (when the writer was, after all, president of CBS News). In fact, no Republican national officeholder or aspirant has escaped the very same degree of broadcast media contumely, character assassination and withholding of evenhanded treatment since the Eisenhower administration.
What is unique about this media and the Trump administration is President Trump’s refusal to allow himself to be mischaracterized and slandered by these partisan zealots.
Even Republican political figures who strove throughout their careers to attain a favorable relationship with this politicized lynch mob, such as John McCain and Mitt Romney, awoke after the conventions to find that once a Republican “moderate” becomes the presidential nominee of his party, he is to be vilified, mocked, abused and slandered by the same media figures who months before (and forever after losing the election) lavished him with laudatory coverage. I see nothing but “more of the same” coming from these people.
I think what is being confused here are principles versus financial policies. My newspaper experience started more than half a century ago. In those days every single journalist I knew was a liberal activist, but the newspaper proprietors supported the Republican Party. Writers had to be scrupulously accurate for their articles to pass editorial challenge. In the best case there was little or no bias, only a careful disclosure of all the facts, resulting in the kind of unbiased reporting that was universally admired. We were told we couldn’t distort by omission.
Media empires still want to dominate the world and global trade has offered that promise on a tantalizing scale. No wonder the quality of the reporting itself has slipped.
The left doesn’t believe it is left of center. It believes it is the center. To concede that it is left of center leaves open the possibility that someone other than them, (perhaps the right?) could occupy the center. If one believes the center is, shall we say, fair and balanced, that can never be anybody but them. For the left, there is no left, only the center and the radicals on the right. It is also my observation that many people on the right believe exactly the opposite.
Delray Beach, Fla.
It isn’t just the media that exudes bias. At dinner I asked my Google assistant two questions: “What are Nancy Pelosi’s accomplishments as speaker of the House?” The robotic voice quickly rattled off three, all of which were during her first term as speaker. I then asked Google what accomplishments Donald Trump has achieved as president. The reply: “Sorry, I don’t have any information on that.”
China’s state media and the government of Hong Kong lashed out on Sunday at U.S. President Donald Trump’s vow to end Hong Kong’s special status if Beijing imposes new national security laws on the city, which is bracing for fresh protests.
Trump on Friday pledged to “take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory,” and to impose sanctions on unspecified individuals over Beijing’s new laws on the Asian financial centre.
But China’s state media pushed back, saying this would hurt the United States more than China.
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“The baton of sanctions that the United States is brandishing will not scare Hong Kong and will not bring China down,” China’s Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, wrote in a commentary. It used the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” meaning “Voice of China,” often used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.
The Global Times wrote, “China has already prepared for the worst. No matter how far the U.S. goes, China will keep its company.”
A Hong Kong government spokesman expressed regret the United States continued to “smear and demonize the legitimate rights and duty of our sovereign” to safeguard national security.
In a sign of diplomatic manoeuvring, the U.S. government said it would put one of its prime Hong Kong properties up for sale – a luxury residential complex worth up to HK$5 billion ($650 million).
A spokesman for the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong said this was part of a global program that “reinforces the U.S. government’s presence in Hong Kong” through reinvestment in other areas.
China and Hong Kong officials have justified the laws that will be directly imposed by China to restore order to a city that has been racked by sometimes violent anti-China, anti-government protests over the past year. They said the laws will only apply to a small number of “troublemakers.”
Protesters, however, have said they are railing against China’s deep encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms despite Beijing’s promise to grant the city a high degree of autonomy under a so-called “one-country, two systems” formula since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
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More protests are planned in the coming weeks.
Countries including the United States, Canada and Britain have expressed deep concerns about the law, with Britain saying it may grant expanded visa rights to large numbers of Hong Kongers.
Demosisto, an advocacy group led by prominent young Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong, said the security law will be “the death of freedom in Hong Kong.”
A senior Hong Kong official, Erick Tsang, said he couldn’t care less if he were sanctioned by the Washington. “I wouldn’t even go to Canada, just in case they try to catch me” there, Tsang told local radio.
Details of the laws remain unclear, even to Hong Kong officials, but are expected to be enacted by China’s parliament this summer. The laws will outlaw secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong, and will be imposed without any local legislative scrutiny.
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