Tim Hortons oil-sands tempest – by Terence Corcoran (National Post – June 9, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The good news for Tim Hortons is that Alberta isn’t a coffee-growing region, in which case the fast-food chain might today be forced to boycott its own products. According to The Sustainable Business Toolkit, coffee is “the world’s second most tradeable commodity after oil.” The question from SBT is: “Have you ever stopped to think what impacts the world’s favourite beverage is having on our planet?”

Advice to Tim Hortons’ senior executives in charge of corporate social responsibility: Don’t try to find the answer to that question. According to SBT, the world’s major coffee-growing regions are also home to some of the most delicate ecosystems on Earth and “the potential for serious damage is great.” In view of the planetary threat from coffee, Tims might have to suddenly send out a tweet to customers saying: “Thank you for your feedback and the product known as coffee is no longer available at Tims.”

But Alberta is an oil region, rather than a coffee nation, and so the coffee-and-doughnuts chain last week was manipulated into announcing that it would stop running oil-related Enbridge commercials on in-store video screens in some of its locations — presumably because the threat of oil to the planet is greater than the threat of coffee. The Enbridge commercials ran in Tim locations from B.C. to Ontario. They promoted good energy use practices to consumers, not the oilsands.

The campaign was actually organized by a group called SumOfUs, a subsidiary of a giant network of well-funded activists who make a living harassing corporations and Canada’s oil-sands companies (see Vivian Krause’s commentary). SumOfUs, based in New York, orchestrated a tweet and Web campaign urging Tim Hortons to drop the Enbridge commercials.

Then, it claimed success. “VICTORY! Thanks to over 28,000 members of the SumOfUs community (and counting!) who came together to demand that Tim Hortons pull its advertising campaign with Enbridge, they listened and just pulled the ads! Thanks for all you do!”

Apparently all it takes to move Tim Hortons is 28,000 people sending tweets and signing online petitions. Among the tweeters was Margaret Atwood.

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