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Alberta is trying on for size a new tactic in the fight over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline that British Columbia is dead set against: a billboard campaign set to sway public opinion. The location of the billboards: British Columbia.
The almost billion-dollar ad campaign will focus on the positive aspects of the connection between the oil sands and the Pacific. Well over half of that spend will be for billboards in British Columbia, according to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley—the very province that has become the bane of existence for the troubled pipeline project.
Recent polls suggest that public opinion is already starting to soften for the US$5.8 pipeline that will increase Canada’s takeaway capacity, with two out of three Canadians feeling that the British Columbian government is in the wrong when it comes to its stance on the pipeline—this is a 10% increase in March over the same poll taken in February.
The poll also suggested that not only do they feel the government of British Columbia is wrong, but the majority—55%—are in favor of the pipeline in general. Even in British Columbia specifically, 54 percent of its residents are in favor of the pipeline.
Notley’s ad campaign hopes to bring even more British Columbians into the fold.
The ad campaign is not the first of its kind designed to sway opinion in favor of Canada’s oil industry, although a 2016 campaign turned out to be a rather cringeworthy public relations nightmare when it called for people to choose Canadian oil over Saudi oil because “In Canada, lesbians are considered hot! In Saudi Arabia, if you’re a lesbian, you die!”
While Notley’s new ad campaign is an official one, the unofficial ad campaign has raged on for months with Alberta and British Columbia duking it out in the form of press releases, trade war threats, and other public statements.
Kinder Morgan has threatened to deep six the project if the trade war debate doesn’t end soon.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.