Yesterday, TransCanada fired its PR firm – Edelman, two weeks after Edelman’s strategy document for TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline was leaked to the public. That document revealed TransCanada’s plan to play dirty to quash opposition to its risky pipeline plan.
TransCanada’s attempt at damage control comes too late. The company is trying to close the gate long after the horse has left the barn.
The leaked strategy document recommended that TransCanada use seemingly unaffiliated third parties to attack citizens groups and groups like Environmental Defence who are opposed to the risky pipeline. The company has admitted to trying to dig up dirt on citizens groups to try to unearth information it could give to third parties to attack them with. The strategy also suggested creating fake ‘astroturf’ grassroots groups to give the project the appearance of public support – a tactic that Edelman used in the U.S. on behalf of cigarette companies to try to discredit the well established links between tobacco and cancer.
As you can imagine, the leaked document hasn’t helped TransCanada earn public trust. In fact, the public backlash has been overwhelming. You can’t blame Canadians for asking questions like:
-Are all those nasty anonymous posts on news articles supporting pipelines like Energy East from real people, or are they written by trolls working for a PR firm?
-Are groups who attack small citizens groups and environmental organizations independent, or are they funded by a desperate oil company?
When TransCanada holds closed-door, by invite-only meetings in communities like North Bay, is it just trying to create proxy groups like what was outlined in the leaked strategy?
At Environmental Defence, we believe Canadians deserve honesty and facts based on truth – not strategies borrowed from tobacco companies. Misinformation, internet trolls, and closed-door meetings just aren’t going to cut it.
It seems this week TransCanada got the message and fired the PR firm that proved all publicity isn’t good publicity.