Monday, December 1, 2014

TransCanada Drops PR Firm That Suggested Attacking Environmental Activists in Leaked Plans

An anti-pipeline sign near Bradshaw, Nebraska, along the Keystone XL route. (photo: Nati Harnik/AP)

TransCanada Drops PR Firm That Suggested Attacking Environmental Activists in Leaked Plans

By Ryan Holeywell, Fuel Fix
29 November 14

TransCanada Corp., the Calgary-based energy company behind the controversial Keystone Pipeline, announced plans to end its contract with public relations firm Edelman after a proposal to attack the company’s opponents was leaked.

The PR strategy, obtained by environmental activist group Greenpeace in leaked documents, outlines how TransCanada should respond to critics of its multi-billion dollar Energy East project.

The planned 2,800-mile pipeline will carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil daily from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada, according to the company.

A plan outlined by Edelman, a major PR firm contracted by TransCanada, calls for conducting opposition research on TransCanada’s critics and working with third parties to put pressure on them.

“In order to add layers of difficulty for opponents, we will work with third parties and arm them with the information they need to pressure opponents and distract them from their mission,” the strategy document says.
Greenpeace released the documents on its blog last week. They were featured in media outlets worldwide, including London’s The Guardian, Canada’s The Globe and Mail and the New York Times.

TransCanada said in a new post on its website this week that it’s not able to have a “respectful” conversation with Canadians in the current environment and is thus ending its contract with Edelman.The company writes:

"Regrettably, recent controversy around our communications strategy has created distraction most notably in Quebec. Media reports have incorrectly suggested that TransCanada’s communications practices are unacceptable. The conversation about Energy East has turned into a debate about our choice of agency partner. We need to get back to a conversation about the project itself and as a result we have agreed that it is in the best interests of the project that we do not extend our contract with Edelman.

Edelman indicated that its contract with the energy company expires at the end of December. It defended its PR strategy. “It was both ethical and moral, and any suggestion to the contrary is untrue,” Edelman wrote Wednesday.

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