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Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake on Ethical Oil

I just tuned-in to a fascinating Twitter conversation between Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake and Alheli Picazo.  Ms. Picazo’s question was as follows;

I was wondering if you had given your permission for your likeness (to be) used for the “ethical oil” PR campaign. Especially since your image appears next to a woman about to be murdered who clearly didn’t give her consent.

If you have not seen it, Mayor Blake is featured prominently in one of the posters recently released by Ethical Oil, shown below.

Ethical oil ad campaign, via the Globe and Mail

Mayor Blake’s responses (1 and 2) were surprising, at least to me (perhaps she has been on the record on this issue before):

I was never even asked!!! I’m not at all pleased about it.  I cringe when I see it, no need to send again 🙁

Alheli Picazo’s follow-up:

How do you feel, in general, about the ‘ethical oil” meme? It’s one thing to be for the oil sands, it’s quite another to create this (in my opinion) false-argument.

and Mayor Blake’s response:

I’m very pro oilsands+pro environment and anti exageration on either side. We need to deal in FACTS and real-life pros and cons.

This conversation brings to the forefront another set of issues related to my post last night: how do the groups and people portrayed in the Ethical Oil ad campaign feel about it? I read a blog post earlier this week which may or may not be representative of reaction in the GLBT community with respect to this poster, and now this reaction from Mayor Blake of Fort McMurray, a staunch defender of the oilsands.

It will be interesting to see if either Ezra Levant or Alykhan Velshi respond to Mayor Blake’s concerns, or whether CAPP or any other industry players weigh-in.  As Alheli Picazo points out, Mayor Blake is, “one of (Ezra) Levant’s favorite talking points re: ‘ethical oil,'” so it will also be interesting to see how that changes from here on in.

30 responses to “Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake on Ethical Oil”

  1. Willow Balkwill

    I find the use of GLBT by oil companies appalling. I can’t speak for GLB but I was fired by the Mud logging company Datalog in 2003 when they discovered my previous gender change. They told me I was the best programmer they’d hired but that I wasn’t “fitting in”. The oil companies here are anything but ethical when it comes to the transgendered.

  2. No, she did not give permission #oilsands #tarsands #ymm @a_picazo @mayormelissa «

    […] out the breaking news is the answer is no. She had no idea. Thank you to @a_picazo for contacting Ms Blake to ask her. It needed to be done. Too bad we […]

  3. When is Extremism Ok? When it's "ethical"? | my oil sands

    […] new campaign, Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake and Calgarian Alheli Picazo. Here’ s a brief recap from blogger and environmental economist Andrew […]

  4. Sherwin Arnott

    I hear these soundbites about ethical oil with increasing frequency. It’s an interesting public relations campaign, in part, because it affirms that we should factor ethics into our economic and market decisions. I find this surprising. You would never hear most of these guys supporting, for example, fair trade coffee or affirming that the right to associate or form a trade union is a human right.

    But if ethical considerations are considerations in market choices, then I guess we need to ask scientists about the seriousness of climate change. Right?

    I guess I’m skeptical that the guys behind this campaign are really interested in an ethical analysis: they only want the convenient soundbites that allow them to get their oil to market and the dollars in the bank before alternative energy or government regulation drives the profit out of Alberta oil.

  5. Breaking: “Ethical Oil” Campaign Uses Stolen, Faked Photos » Rainforest Action Network Blog

    […] of Wood Buffalo, Alberta. Asked recently whether she was consulted about her portrayal in the ads, she replied “I was never even asked!!! I’m not at all pleased about it. I cringe when I see […]

  6. Tar Sands Action » “Ethical Oil” Campaign Uses Stolen, Faked Photos

    […] of Wood Buffalo, Alberta. Asked recently whether she was consulted about her portrayal in the ads, she replied “I was never even asked!!! I’m not at all pleased about it. I cringe when I see […]

  7. Holly Stick

    Andrew I think you are being a little naive about the people behind the “ethical” oil meme. You wrote “I think those behind the campaign really do feel (as I often do) that Alberta is unfairly singled out and are genuinely interested in fighting back.”

    I would say they are sleazy dishonest shills who are trying to tell plausible lies about the bitumenous sands. For instance, Velshi’s blog looks much like astroturf claiming to be grassroots, with a careful lack of openness about its funding and its supporters. Deep Climate’s new post is essential reading:

    They are trying to present “ethical oil” vs “blood oil”/”conflict oil” as an equivalent to non-conflict diamonds vs blood diamonds.

    I believe Velshi uses some of those words in his debate with Daryl Hannah:

    There is nothing honest about the purveyors of this meme, and any politician with an ounce of integrity would not use the phrase “ethical oil”. I don’t think Prentice ever used it, though Harper and Kent both have.

    I’m a lifelong Albertan and am ashamed of the oil patch sycophancy shown by some Albertans.

  8. Don Sharpe

    Well, it’s nice to find your blog!
    I’m just a regular citizen who’s worked in Ft Chip and various oil sands projects. I’ve also worked closely with both Dr O’Conner and Ezra Levant on different projects.

    Since I’m a ‘denier’ of global warming, I’m the problem … Do I have that correct?

    Every day lately I see more and more info that global warming is a hoax, one that will destroy the West economically and allow the real polluters, (the ones you don’t have the guts to go after, like the Saudi’s) to continue to rape their land while laughing at people like you who try to destroy us from within.

    You’ve heard all the arguments, I’m sure. You drive a car, live in a house, wear polyblend clothes – all those advantages we get from oil – yet you’d deny us those advantages or make them so expensive that only the rich could afford them.

    I think the tide is turning on this issue, more of us are paying attention to what environmentalists want to take away from us, namely our livelihoods and our children’s future. We can’t all be writer’s and enviro-thinkers for a living, some of us have to work.

  9. Steve

    I have to agree with Don here. The scientific literature is NOT becoming more unanimous. That’s like saying that EVERY scientist agreed with the IPCC report. Bullying.
    Let’s get real here for a moment. It took the full cooperation of every human who has ever lived in the last 2,000 years acting in concert to bring us to where we are today. How long to swing it back? I’m not saying we shouldn’t do what we can, but don’t expect a miracle.
    In the meantime, if you’re not living as the native Americans/Canadians lived, then aren’t you a hypocrite?

  10. Bill

    Interesting thread. I’ll point out that Ezra Levant and Mclennan Ross lawyer Tom Ross are the co-owners and co-shareholders of Ethical Oil Institute, otherwise known as “Ethical Oil” as represented on

    My beef with the oilsands isn’t the greenhouse gases. That’s an easy one: offset the emissions by paying to shut down coal-fired powerplants elsewhere, or convert them to natural gas. My beef is that nobody knows what the impacts of the oilsands has been or will be. You cite the Royal Society report, but it’s rife with errors in both science and logic. A better report is the federal Oil Sands Advisory Panel’s report, or either of the two scientific reviews of the primary oil sands monitoring activities under CEMA. The latter three reports highlight that the monitoring programs have been so incompetently or intentionally badly designed as to be essentially useless when it comes to determining the impacts of the oilsands, verifying industry predictions made during regulatory hearings as to the minimal or mitigatable nature of any future impacts, or determining the ecological impacts of future growth and activity. Add to that that federal and provincial environment ministry scientists haven’t been permitted to investigate the impacts or play any role in regulatory hearings (industry proposals are reviewed by federal and Alberta people who aren’t sufficiently qualified to identify the sorts of problems highlighted in those three reports), and that Alberta Environment has even stopped appearing at regulatory hearings for oil sands project assessments and approvals. What it all means is that the politicians have decided it’s ‘full steam ahead’ with oil sands development and expansion, have decided to exercise their ministerial discretion not to apply or enforce our provincial and federal environmental laws and regulations. Apparently, they’ve also decided that the best expenditure of government funds is to finance ad campaigns woth tens of millions of dollars and face-to-face political meetings in defence of the oil sands, while cutting operational and research budgets and staff for environmental assessment. The writing’s on the wall on this issue. It’s just that a large number of people refuse to read it.

  11. Bill

    Re: RSC report, for example a common theme throughout the report is that there aren’t significant health effects or that they expect minimal effects based on monitoring that’s been done, despite that they highlight that insufficient and improperly designed monitoring has been done and there hasn’t been any health study performed that has also been properly designed. You can’t have it both ways, and you can’t conclude minimal effects when monitoring and impact assessment programs have been demonstrated to be incapable of detecting significant effects if they exist.

  12. Bill

    The easiest way to undermine someone’s public statements about lack of environmental risks from major projects, that are often made and couched with an awareness of the extreme political sensitivities involved, is to go through their own scientific publication record to see if they say different things to their scientific colleagues when not in the harsh glare of the public light.

    Dr. Steve Hrudey – the Chair of that RSC committee – himself has co-authored studies highlighting significant health risks posed by organic oil sands contaminants found downstream of Ft. McMurray. Yet as Chair of the RSC committee, he concluded there were minimal health risks from oil sands contaminants. Those who wrote the RSC report also chose to ignore or misinterpret the clear studies by independent scientists like Schindler et al, and concluded that the independent studies and the RAMP monitoring program (for example) were designed for different purposes. In the report – and in Steve Hrudey’s interviews and written statements after its release – there was a consistent failure to recognize or address the contradiction inherent to criticizing RAMP for incompetence but then justifying its failure to detect the kinds of results Schindler et al demonstrated by saying it was designed for something else. These are examples of why the RSC report should be taken with a grain of salt in its conclusions about environmental/health risks associated with oil sands development.

  13. Bill

    I was referring to the two PNAS papers on organic and heavy metal contaminants, and am unaware of any papers he’s published on fish contaminant loads in the Athabasca. Do you have the citation?

  14. victoria farquhar

    It must be very clear to anyone who’s done their obligatory google search on EthicalOil, Velshi, Levant, SunMedia, Kathryn Marshall and her lovely husband, Oil-or-Tar Sands, Fort McMurray, Steven Harper, Calgary School …. etc.
    We know. Do they ? (…give a shit)
    That’s the question. Next time you see one of them ? Kick the Shit Out Of Them, before they disappear. you might not get another Chance ! 😉
    p.s: thanks for caring …

  15. Living in Denial in Canada | Critical Angle

    […] negatives associated with producing bitumen. Mellissa Blake, the mayor of Fort McMurray objected to the use of her photo in the Ethical Oil […]

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