Canada goes on offensive in pipeline PR war – by Nathan Vanderklippe (Globe and Mail – October 11, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

CALGARY— Away from the loud protests and clever signs that opponents have wielded against the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada’s government and industry are quietly fighting back.

Over the span of the past two years, they have spent millions on lobbyists and flown executives across the border in an increasingly urgent bid to press their case with U.S. politicians and officials. Their efforts have largely been carried out in private. Yet public records make clear the scale of their exertions, and the importance Canada’s energy companies, with support from the governments of Canada and Alberta, have placed on pushing the project through.

In the past two years, TransCanada Corp. (TRP-T43.050.882.09%), which is seeking to build the $7-billion pipeline, has spent over $1.5-million on U.S. federal lobbyists, and even more in individual states like Nebraska, where opposition has been the most vocal. That’s in addition to the money it has poured into advertising campaigns, which include a current print, TV and online effort in Washington, D.C., aimed at persuading decision makers that the pipeline will help “real Americans.”

TransCanada has been joined by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), which has marshalled the considerable connections of Gordon Giffin and David Wilkins, both former U.S. ambassadors to Canada, to press the case for the pipeline and the Alberta oil sands. The American Petroleum Institute has banded together with the Laborers International Union of North America to feed union workers and ferry them to public meetings, clothe them in orange shirts and ask them to make the case for the pipeline.

In total, some 28 companies, industry associations and unions have lobbied on Keystone.

Those lobbying efforts have now sparked a growing backlash, as critics examine the connections between industry, the State Department and its head, Hillary Clinton. U.S. environmental group Friends of the Earth has questioned a web of influence that includes Paul Elliott, a former Clinton campaign worker that is now on TransCanada’s payroll; David Goldwyn, a State Department worker who once lobbied for the oil industry; and McKenna Long & Aldridge, a TransCanada lobbying firm that has donated heavily to Ms. Clinton – although its employees also gave substantial amounts to other candidates, including John McCain, in the 2008 election.

But the multibillion-dollar petroleum industry says it has little choice but to enlist influential people in its fight.

“It was done out of necessity, because the environmentalists decided to make Keystone an issue and a lightning rod for the debate around the oil sands,” said TransCanada spokesman James Millar.

The company is clearly frustrated.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: