01.11.2012 10:00 AM

Questions: Who’s the “front group” now?


As y’all know, Big Oil – and their Reformatory fart-catchers in Ottawa – have been braying and screeching about “foreigners” and “front groups” in respect of the big and dirty Oil Sands pipeline.  The Harper regime, in particular, has been apoplectic about these shadowy “front groups” who oppose the pipeline.  Lots and lots of money is being spent to demonize opponents to the plan.

Here’s an example.  Take a listen to the voice on the “Our Decision” ad, and the crap about “front groups,” here.

Hear that voice?  Now, listen to this Conservative Party attack ad, the infamous one about how Michael Ignatieff “didn’t come back for you,” found here.

Question one: It’s the same guy, ain’t it?

Seems the aptly-named Wurstlin Group did both, and used the same actor.  So, as the irrepressible BCL discovered, the fact is that the Conservative Party is the cabal using “front groups,” quote unquote.  (And see BCL’s report on last night’s section 13 debate, which I couldn’t attend because I was at Son Two’s hockey game.)

Anyway, question two:  Are the Cons bald-faced, lying hypocrites who are full of horseshit?

Well, you know the answer to that one already.



  1. Ted says:

    Now might be a particularly good time to ask, once again, who Stephen Harper’s secret big donors were in his leadership campaign, and who were the secret big donors who paid off Peter McKay’s leadership campaign loans.

    Both have been steadfast in refusing to tell anyone.

    And likely for very good reason.

    Please make these chickens come home to roost.

    • Calvin says:

      Actually Ted, I paid both Harper`s and Mckay`s loan off after the last CPC leadership convention.
      You see, I along with other Conservatives thought it would be a good idea to help out these brave souls in their efforts to get rid of an incompetent and corrupt Liberal government. So we gave 20 bucks here and there and pretty soon it was paid off.
      And you know what—-so far we feel really good about our generosity—but thanks for caring.

      • Patrick Deberg says:

        And I guess Talisman chippped in a few bucks as well eh Calvin? In your name I guess?

      • Ted says:

        No, you didn’t.

        Stephen Harper received donations in the tens of thousands from a few powerful and wealth friends and corporations for his leadership race.

        He released the names of all of the small donors but not of the big donors.


        What is Harper hiding?

        Perhaps we are now finally learning.

        • Calvin says:

          Actually, I`m not sure why you are so concerned about the last CPC leadership eight years ago ( the Liberals will soon decide on their 6th leader since Harper became Conservative leader ), however I should tell you that a New Liberal named Belinda Stronach actually spent 2 and one-half million to Harper`s 2 million in that leadership.

          I should remind you that in 2004 the Liberal Party was considered to be the political Party of corporate Canada–The history of Harper and his Reform Party roots is one of populism and the volume of small but quantitative donations that is common in that movement.

          • Pat says:

            You totally avoided addressing Ted’s accusation while spinning it to look bad on the Liberals.. wonderful job.

            I find it interesting that you still think that the Reform is so very populist when Harper used so much corporate money to get selected as leader. What you are missing is that the CPC fundraising program is populist, but Harper isn’t, nor are most Reformers. They just lean on populism to make money, which they then use to achieve their corporatist agenda.

          • Ted says:

            Ah, I see.

            Feel vulnerable on the question so change the subject.


            Stronach spent mostly her and her dad’s own money (which was allowed then).

            Harper was bought by others. Who? We don’t know because he won’t say.

          • Calvin says:

            I don`t understand why we are even talking about an eight year old leadership convention when so much has happened since then including a few new LPC leaders.
            Kinsella wanted to talk about the role of American environmental groups in the Northern Gateway project—-you guys seem to be totally avoiding addressing that subject—-maybe you feel vulnerable because deep down you know Harper is on the right track on this file defending Canadian interests.

            Why, I think Stephen Harper is the new Captain Canada !

          • Jan says:

            I love the Cons selective use of the statute of limitations.

  2. Ted says:

    Please do make some effort at keeping up, Gord.

    The argument you are trying to make would be consistent if we said the reverse: if a consultancy group was hired by an enviro group and also the lpc and the LPC started a campaign identical to the enviro group, it might indicate that the enviro group controlled lpc policy.

    Because the claim is that Big Oil is behind the CPC. And there are none too many Big Oil companies which are Canadian controlled, despite Harper’s whining about “foreign money” behind environmental opposition.

    Plus, to be consistent, you’d have to show that the enviro groups spent millions and millions of dollars in lobbying efforts and campaign funding.

    Which you wouldn’t be able to do, of course.

    As ever with Harper, the bigger the lie the more likely everyone will fall for it.

    • Ted says:

      Missing the point, as usual, Gordie.

      Harper is the one claiming there is some nefarious conspiracy of international socialists funding these environmental groups.

      If there is any coordinated, back door dealing, it is the Big Oil in bed with Harper.

      Whether that is the case or not, I only have my guesses (and the lobbying records, of course!).

      But the point is, if Harper is going to start along those lines, it is fair game for him to expect it back. There’s just a teeny bit more actual evidence of Big Oil’s efforts anyway.

      • Pat says:

        Environmental companies from all over the world – in their perspective – are directly involved. They think that the building of the pipeline would be a significant blow to the environmental sustainability of the world, so they are doing something about it. Environmental groups often take a whole-world sort of approach. When someone is doing something terrible in any part of the world that could impact the environment in any other part of the world, they would consider themselves to be involved. They simply funnel the money to local groups because the local groups would be more effective in spending the money.

      • Pat says:

        Also, you example is misleading. Try not to be so obviously biased by using ridiculous examples that literally make no sense.

  3. AP says:

    If Ecojustice wants The Harper Government™ to stop attacking them as nothing but a “front group” for foreign interests they should rename themselves Royal Canadian Ecojustice™.

    • Ted says:

      Perhaps Harper could do the same.

      Who were the secret big donors of his leadership race?

    • bigcitylib says:

      You mean this?


      All Ms. Krause (who did the research on this topic) did is consult public documents.

      So maybe Ethical Oil can show us THEIR donor list.

      • Pat says:

        Ethical Oil has a vested interest. Ecojustice has a vested interest. The only difference is that the vested interest for one involved making money and the other involves reducing environmental impacts. I don’t see how they differ, except that you obviously believe that profit-based vested interests are more important.

      • Ted says:

        No no no, Pat.

        You aren’t using the right language.

        Big Oil is a vested interest. So it doesn’t matter that the money and lobbying is foreign.

        Anyone else is a special interest and, more specifically, an internationally funded radical special interest. So getting money from some sympathetic foreign groups of similar interest is nefarious.

        We have sooooo much to learn from Gordie.

      • Ted says:

        So you only get a say in other people’s business if your profits are at risk?

        So if a country outlaws the ownership of property by, say, women, that is not any concern of ours?

        How retrograde.

        No wonder you like Ron Paul. You’d fit right in with the US Republicans… of the 1930s.

      • Grant Bowen says:

        The whole world has a vested interest in the tar sands effects on global warming. The whole world has a vested interest in the biosphere which includes the delicate natural areas this pipeline and the tankers will travel through. A spill of tar sands bitumen could wind up on the shores of Alaska or the western states. The whole world has a vested interest in the survival of First nations, just like we did in the welfare of blacks in South Africa.
        And regardless of all that, this is a David and Goliath battle. The multinational oil company resources dwarf the resources of the environmental groups. Those companies have zero interest in what happens to our water, our air, our coastlines and our climate. They want profit and higher share prices. If that means environmental damage that’s a price they have no problem paying. Just the price of doing business, don’t you know…

    • Jan says:

      Ms. Ethical Oil was asked today if Enbridge contributed to their financial well being, she wouldn’t answer the question.

  4. pcase says:

    You’re right Gord, it’s not coordinated at all:

    PMO spinning
    Ezra going apoplectic columnizing
    New Special interest group forms

    All using the same talking points.

    You could be right and it is a complete fluke, but I am betting that some folks who share interests are talking and organizing.

    Can you not admit that it at least appear that way. That’s not to mention Warren’s connection between the ad firm, the CPC and this newly formed interest group.

    • Curt says:

      I must add the following. Presently Alberta is recieving a discounted price for its oil of approximately $15.00 per barrel. That is the WTI price is out of sinc with the Brent prices due to pipeline capacity issues. It is the US’s best interest to keep this dicount as it reduces their overall cost for their energy requiremnts. How big an issue is this you ask? 1.5 million barrels per day times $15/ barrel. So you are correct they have real vested interests.

    • Ted says:

      That’s like saying the human rights of someone outside Canada is of no concern to us so we should butt out.

      Dictators everywhere are applauding you Gordie.

      • Ted says:

        Because someone’s human rights being violated by the Chinese government (or other government) how, Gordie? Seems just as within the borders of that foreign country.

      • Ted says:

        Again, Gord, how is that not different from what aother country decides to do with its own humans.

        The “rights” are different – DUH – but how is the issue different?

        Just like criminal laws are “clearly a soley [sic] within a country’s national sovereignty”, why would it be any concern of ours if a country outlaws homosexuality, like in many backwards parts of the world (like Saudi Arabia or Texas).

        By your opinion, we should all just look out for ourselves and anything that doesn’t directly affect us is none of our concern and we shouldn’t interfere. Unless profits are involved of course.

        It’s a patently ridiculous position you are taking.

  5. The Zaphos Institute says:

    The Wurstlin Group has well-known ties to the CPC. Others much smarter than I have investigated and figured this out.

    Also, whenever you hear the Harper Government© or their toadies at the Wurstlin Group mention these alleged “foreigners” and “front groups” as “enemies of Canada”, or acting “against Canada’s economic interests” … just substitute “Alberta” for “Canada” to make sense of that.

    • Jon Adams says:

      I would be more inclined to believe you personally (and the rest of Corus radio’s core audience) have the best interests of the nation at heart if most of the political talk from Alberta in the past 30 years had not been of the “Saskatchewan socialists / BC pot-smoking hippie / Central Canada elitist / Quebec should separate / Atlantic culture-of-defeat / firewall around Alberta” variety. Otherwise it seems you only the best interest of those who share your Weltanschauung at heart.

    • The Zaphos Institute says:

      So you are saying that this pipeline only benefits Alberta

      Please tell me how oil pipeline breaks and/or major oil spills along the coastline will benefit Canada?

    • Jan says:

      The risk seems to be going to be born by B.C.

  6. dave says:

    What a great language it is:
    After a recent poll (commissioned by some group calling itself Enbridge) suggested lots of BCers support the pipeline, the spokesperson for that company offered that the people who supported the project were the ones with ‘open minds.’

    And on language, when did the Tar Sands, long the name of that area, get a new name? Who changed the name, and why? (I still like Bitumin Beach, myself. I should have publicized it more.)

    • Ted says:

      Yes, using the technical term for the tar sands instead of the glossier marketing term of oil sands is exactly like calling a mentally challenged kid a moron. Nothing much gets by your sharp eye, does it Gord?

      • Ted says:

        That’s because you are talking about an individual. A person. Instead of a thing. A thing doesn’t have feelings and can’t be insulted.

        More to the point, moron and imbicile and retard get used as insults.

        Also, to continue using these terms as technical terms to describe someone’s mental capacities is not only insulting but vague and uncertain and ripe for confusion and possibly insult. Without a change in language, if I called you a retard, do I mean I think you are really really stupid or I think you have a pysiological lack of cognitive ability? The distinction is important. And the change, when it comes to this example, was more of a change in the psychiatric community as it was in the political community.

        None of that is relevant to the tar sands discussion.

        It is more akin to calling someone a sovereigntist or a separatist. It is only inflammatory because someone wants to make money and it, ahem, tars their “brand”.

        And by the way, I’m not a huge fan of political correctness for political reasons. But there have been changes that make sense.

    • dave says:

      Maybe I’ll just put the question, alone…who changed the name, and why?

      • Ted says:

        The technical term was/is tar sands, referring to the “tar” in the ground from which the oil is extracted.

        The oil industry and politicians started using the term “oil sands” since it just sounds nicer and still reflected what it was. It became a much more actively and consciously used term, especially by politicians and lobbyists, as the protests and fights got more active and the industry started fighting back.

        (Gordie’s comparison to Rapeseed, which is now known as Canola, would be a parallel example, except like most of what he writes he’s wrong and doesn’t know what he’s talking about). Canola is a type of rapeseed, not a different name for it.)

        • Ted says:

          I’ll admit that I don’t know the actual percentage of production. I know it’s very high and I know it’s not virtually all (i.e. 99.9%). Where did you get your number from?

          You are still wrong to say canola is a replacement name for rapeseed, which was the only point of the parenthetical note. It is a cultivar of rapeseed that has proven so popular that it has eclipsed other cultivars. Most of the world does not use the term “Canola”.

    • Curt says:

      He does Fedex commercials on the side… Checkmate:)

  7. Dan S. says:

    But if you search who has been lobbying Joe Oliver you see a nice balanced approach which is likely to ensure he hears from all sides of this debate. Chinese State oil company check. Houston based oil company check. Enbridge, Enbridge, and Enbridge again. check, check, check. Pipeline Association check, TransCanada Crop, TransCanada Crop again, check, check. Encana two more times. check! etc… etc… etc…

    • Philip says:

      You should really post that link Dan. I would love to wallpaper that on a bunch of sites. It’s amazing what a dump truck full of petro-dollars can do for a nobody like Joe Oliver. I try to contain my surprise when Mr. Oliver decides to lobby for an oil company in Alberta, after he is through with politics.

      • Dan S. says:


        The Lobbying Commissioner’s site won’t let you link to the search results, but you can run Joe Oliver’s name through the Designated Public Office Holder field here: https://ocl-cal.gc.ca/app/secure/orl/lrrs/do/commLogPublicSearch

        • Philip says:

          I can’t thank you enough Dan! Ran my rookie Conservative MP, Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga east-Cooksville) through the search engine. Apparently Mr. Lizon was getting some lobbying love from both the Canadian Pipeline Association, Camco Corp and the Association of Canadian Petroleum Producers quite recently. I wonder what they were talking about?

    • Grant Bowen says:

      This is not a purely domestic issue. The tar sands have effects on the whole world: climate change, oil spills, etc.

      And maybe Gord, you could explain why it was OK for the Canadian government to marshall their entire US diplomatic corps to fight for the Keystone pipeline? By your measures, isn’t that a purely American domestic issue?

  8. JH says:

    I have a question – 2 actually. If it was not all right for the NRA to fund those lobbying against the gun registry, why is it all right for US envoirnmental groups to fund those lobbying against the pipeline?
    Also – obviously Conservative Party policy is to support the oil sands etc and this pipeline. I don’t think anyone can question that.
    Could somebody please tell me clearly what is Liberal Party Policy on the issue? For or against?
    And what about the NDP?
    And please no bafflegarb – just a clear statement of the official policy policy positions in this regard of the 2 opposition parties. The reason I ask is that publicly and privately they both seem to be sending mixed messages.
    Thank you.

    • smelter rat says:

      Thank you for raising that issue. Since the NRA and it’s ilk clearly did have the opportunity to support Canadian groups that were in synch with its position, I wonder why the Reformacons are now going apeshit over environmental groups who they claim are doing the same thing?

  9. Paul says:

    Very interesting. BTW, Warren, any comments on Preston’s piece in the globe? Maybe they’ll be out of power sooner rather than later…

    • Calvin says:

      Brilliant piece by Manning—I suspect Harper still depends on his wisdom frequently.

      Whether it is the media or the senior civil service, it is important to understand their value and their purpose but never get in the situation that the Liberals found themselves in—-it became so difficult to differentiate between the LPC and the senior civil service that when the Liberals lost power and their connection with the civil service they lost part of their identity and their influence.

    • Ted says:

      When the PM and the PMO stated expressly that the resolutions of passed by the party members at its conventions are not binding on the party… is that your definition of “alive and well”?

      The only reason Harper has had success is because he has worked tirelessly and successfully at muting the “grassroots” and taking total control over every aspect of the party apparatus including policy making.

      • smelter rat says:

        Exactly. Harper has about as much in common with Manning as he does with PET.

      • Ted says:

        Missing the point or avoiding it, Gord?

        The PM, before the policy convention was even held, told delegates that their resolutions would be interesting but not relevant to the policies and actions of his government.

        In particular, the PM told delegates that he would ignore anything they decided about the Canada Human Rights Act (and once they did pass a motion to amend it, he said he would ignore the motion).

        Any organization that ignores the stated desires of its grassroots cannot claim to be a grassroots organization. But an organization that expressly tells its grassroots both beforehand and afterwards that their desires are not relevant is way beyond not being a grassroots organization.

        The only reason this was not apparent before is because grassroots priorities happened to be close to Harper’s priorities. But make no mistake: the only thing that matters are Harper’s top-down priorities. Nothing else.

        Meet the new boss. Way worse than any older boss.

  10. Mom says:

    I’d really be curious to hear what Stephan Dion has to say about all of this. I was so impressed by his passion on climate change. How are we going to find the balance between the economy and the environment?

  11. Michael Bussiere says:

    On a positive note, Nickelback is touring their new album.

  12. jack says:

    Harper is interfering in whats supposed to be an impartial process. It is disgusting. On top of that, it is very hypocritical. I have seen the oilsands ownership maps from the past 5 years and people would be shocked at how much foreign ownership has increased in the last 5 years. Even some of the large “canadian” companies have largely foreign investors. Even workers are increasingly foreign. One company has an entire shift of Chinese nationals that rotates monthly and this year a drilling company brought in a large number of Mexican nationals. They claim a work shortage but how could that be, given Canadas unemployment rate. The fact is the labor is cheaper.

    Canadians are getting scammed by Harper and corporate Canada. But with media part of corporate canada its also difficult to get the message to Canadians who like to listen to Steve talk out of many sides of the same mouth.

    And as an aside, did people see the Viterra PR today. they expect massive profit increases with the wheat board gone. They even explained that they will have to hire no people to handle more grain. And how do they make their increased profits? By buying the wheat from farmers at one price and selling it for a much higher price on the market. The farmers will get as small a cut as Viterra can negotiate with them. their goal is to maximize profits. The family farmer and other medium sized guys are going to get creamed.

    • The Doctor says:

      One person buys something at a certain price, and later sells it at a higher price.

      The horror! The horror! Somebody call the police!

      I take it that your position must be that if you buy a house, it’s highly unethical to later sell it at a higher price. The only ethical thing to do would be to sell it at the same price or, better yet, a lower one.

    • Paul says:

      Imagine that. Market efficiency and increased profits for a publicly-traded Canadian company that anyone can buy on the TSX. I remember when Viterra was $9 per share just over a year ago, now it is something like $11 or a bit less. I sort of wish I’d gotten some back then but I’m a dividend guy and their yield is not that great (yet). Now that they are going to become more profitable they may well be able to increase that dividend over time, thus making investing in them more attractive. This is growth that any Canadian can participate in, so why is this is a bad thing again?

      Nothing is forever. No job is “for life” and quite frankly if a farmer (or any businessperson) requires a bloated, government-run bureaucracy like the Wheat Board in order to stay afloat then perhaps they had no economic right to be in business the first place. The left may not like it, but we are talking about the real world here and not some centrally-planned, Soviet-style economic fantasy.

      Don’t people realize that we are ALL “corporate Canada?” These companies are owned by shareholders like you and I, not some dictator or King hoarding all the profits. Your mutual funds, CPP, RRSPs, RESPs, TFSAs, etc. all rely on corporate profits and growth. Seniors invest their money in corporations like the big banks, BCE, TransCanada, and others in order to live off the generous dividends that they pay out. I’m sick of people slagging off on business and yet still happily accepting the jobs they provide and of course the social programs paid for by the tax revenues they pay.

      • Philip says:

        “Don’t people realize that we are ALL “corporate Canada?” These companies are owned by shareholders like you and I, not some dictator or King hoarding all the profits.”

        I actually laughed out loud, at this stunning piece of naivety. Because the little guy trading on his PC in the basement, with his 1,000 shares really owns that company. Unlike the hedge fund managers. Sick of people slagging off big business, too bad. Get used to it.

        • The Doctor says:

          Umm, Philip, you really didn’t address, never mind refute, Paul’s points regarding mutual funds, CPP, RRSPs, RESPs, TFSAs — not to mention one he didn’t even bring up — the CPP investment board. Just sayin’ . . .

  13. Marc L says:

    Isn’t corporate-bashing fun??? Whenever Liberals get bored, they stoop down to the level of the NDP and start bashing businesses. I suppose that’s what being a self-described “progressive” is about.

  14. Marc L says:

    Since you have taken an interest in what Kelly Mcparland has to say these days, here is a somewhat more balanced view ( a bit different from the “heroic and saintly environmental groups” versus “evil greedy corporations” take on things)


  15. dave says:

    Choosing to be a petro state, or choosing to go down the road to becoming a petro state, is a debate we should be having. A couple of differeing points of view about us (Alberta, especially, but other parts of Canada have already experienced the effects on our dollar of increasing reliance on shippin gout raw resources) are in these two pieces:


    • dave says:

      Oops…in that 2nd web site address that should be ‘Joe’ … (I must have slipped from qwerty to wertyu)

    • The Doctor says:

      Yes, we should have a really really really low-valued currency. That is the magic answer to all economic problems. Just look at Mexico, the wealthy envy of the entire planet.

      • dave says:

        I guess a USA and EU complaint about China is that they do too much to control the value of their currency, keeping it low enough to encourage the diversity, especially the tertiary sector, in their own economy.

        As for ‘really really low-valued,’ that is an excellent way to defeat a point. Pretend that it is arguing taking things to an extreme. It the type of argument often used by the oil industry: Either allow us to do whatever we want, or else everybody has to live in a hole in back of the local lagoon, living on grubs and roots, with no oil at all. None! We ‘ll just quit our extremely profitable activities.

  16. Did Warren actually use the lefty phrase “Big Oil?” What`s next do you suppose – “American Style?” I mean……really?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.