I have a tendency to refer - only half-jokingly - to people working in public relations and media relations as those on the "dark side." It just sounds scary; like they're trying to create and sell their own reality to the public, instead of just telling their side of the story.
Maybe the spin in Alberta is worrisome to me because after living in Ontario and Manitoba, both places that have changed ruling parties since the Internet came into our lives, I can't understand how there's anyone else to blame except people in the current government. The latest stories out of Alberta Environment are especially troubling.
First, we learn from the CBC nobody at Alberta Environment mentioned Suncor and two of its contractors were facing charges for allegedly dumping untreated waste into the Athabasca River, and fudging the facts about it - and - they were charged more than one year ago. Minister Rob Renner says it's not their style to say anything before a company has its day in court.
That's scary because maybe those speaking for the government feel there's been enough negative publicity about the oil tar oil sands and they'll speak only when spoken to.
It's not as scary if those around the Minister knew nothing about the charges and this was back in the enforcement section. Wait, my bad, that may be scarier.
Then, the day after, CTV goes off on a dig of their own and finds Suncor is facing more charges nobody trumpeted in a government news release. That came shortly after the Environment Minister and the Premier said things were going to be open, honest and transparent. Oh, after this one. Probably?
This is scary if nobody bothered to do damage control and prepare for more reporters to run energy company names through court databases the day after a fairly big story. Heck, there might have even been some muted adoration for the appearance of a new approach from Alberta Environment if they had made this public on their own after questions about court case #1.
You can certainly leave things to the courts and you can make reporters work for the story without news releases. You can't, however, try to show everyone you're serious about being green after one incident, then hide behind the court process when nobody has pictures of oily ducks to call you out on your connections to the energy industry environmental record.
The public has a right to know if their government is taking action for alleged abuses. You'd think that would be something to trumpet.
Now after these stories, people in the Alberta government appear to either be hiding something(s) or not having any idea what's happening between various areas of even the same ministry.
Ultimately, I'm not sure what I would prefer; that this has been about disconnect or straight up deceit. We're equally screwed in both scenarios, but one can be fixed (theoretically) with communication and clear governmental processes.
3 days ago