Skip to Content

Energy East: Leaked documents reveal TransCanada's dirty communications campaign

TransCanada has every right to hire Edelman, so why expect us to believe that they hired the US communications firm, but did not implement any of their aggressive communications strategy, which includes launching a fake grassroots social-media movement in support of the proposed Energy East pipeline?

With a firm like Edelman, TransCanada knew exactly what they were choosing. In an editorial in Le Soleil called "TransCanada Tobacco," Pierre Asselin reminds us what the firm did for the tobacco industry in the 1980s: create confusion about the health risks of second-hand smoke and discredit opponents by presenting them as a "noisy minority." Does that sound familiar? 

In documents recently leaked to Greenpeace Canada, Edelman proposes creating fake citizens groups to give the impression that there is popular support for the Energy East project. The plan also proposes strategies to "distract" environmental groups.

The documents name Equiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation directly. My name has the honour of appearing on the black list. 

It doesn't specify how they are going to distract me from speaking out against Energy East, but I assure you that no tactics could distract me from this mission. 

Fortunately, it's not just a growing number of real citizens, municipalities and environmental groups who are expressing worries about Energy East... the government of Quebec is suddenly taking a harder line with TransCanada. 

The Minister of the Environment, David Heurtel, sent a strongly worded letter to TransCanada, saying:

  1. Quebec intends to exercise its full powers in terms of environmental assessment and any eventual decision on the Energy East pipeline. 
  2. The overall greenhouse gas emissions will be taken into account, not just those related to the portion of the pipeline that passes though Quebec.
  3. Quebec imposes seven pre-conditions for project approval (with Ontario imposing the same conditions).

A positive turnaround that must be applauded!

This article by Steven Guilbeault, senior director of Equiterre, originally appeared in French in the Métro newspaper.