The dollar is the message in Enbridge campaign

Protesting Enbridge's powerful messaging is necessary

By guest commenter Bruce Martindale

When a group of women showed up to protest a women’s luncheon being sponsored by Enbridge, a lot of people cried foul.

They said that the protesters’ actions somehow trampled on the collective freedoms of Enbridge and the participants in the luncheon.

Let’s be clear; the luncheon was designed to promote Enbridge and their project, the Northern Gateway Pipeline.

I can’t think of any other reason that Enbridge would be spending money here, so why is it that we are surprised when protesters show up, particularly at this point in the game.

The game is that of maintaining the message that Enbridge has been putting forward for four years – oil pipelines are good, now stop asking questions and we will give you large sums of money.

This is a simple enough message, and I think that if my values were for sale, I would simply comply, and wonder what the heck the fuss is all about.

I might even believe their sub message which is – we are a nice company. Crude oil will be shipped through your region regardless, so just like us and we will give you large sums of money.

I might believe it enough to become an advocate for them, to even fight for their cause. Who wouldn’t want large sums of money? Right?

Heck, look at how much money they have spent already just convincing us that they have large sums of money to spread around.

Enbridge has so far confirmed it is spending $100 million on the Northern Gateway project.

Sure, some of that has to go toward convincing a board of petroleum product transportation experts, either formerly or ‘futurely’ employed in the field, that transportation of crude oil is good.

They might ask some questions, but most of the answers are already in the can based on previous board or panels, and anyway, the panel probably believes the messaging already.

There has been an awful lot of that money used to deliver that messaging to politicians.

When I was on Terrace City Council and attended meetings involving politicians from different communities in the region, Enbridge was there.

And I don’t mean just there as an observer. Enbridge was usually a gold sponsor of the event or session and that came with the right to supply a keynote speaker.

I heard the Enbridge message a lot and I know an awful lot of politicians who started to believe it. Luckily for us, many do not.

Sure, other companies and special interest groups sponsor political events, but I guarantee you, never has there been anything like Enbridge’s love for politicians of all stripes, in all communities and at all levels.

And that is particularly disturbing when the messaging is so blatant and self-serving.

Advertising – $5 million this year alone. Need I say more. Oh yeah, check out the messaging and see if it doesn’t say what I said above. Read between the lines now. Can’t find the ads? Impossible, they are even on CBC online.

What about sponsorship of community events, meetings and groups? Have we ever seen such a generous company? Incredible given that they have no social license to contribute, but are simply trying to buy support.

It offends me to no end to see how gullible Enbridge thinks we are, and I am glad that we are starting to protest, as we should.

I don’t think any company has ever spent this kind of money purely to promote a project ever in the history of business, anywhere in the world.

I’ve looked and I can’t find another example that even comes close.

Which brings me back to the small group of women who were offended by Enbridge enough to show up and show their displeasure.

That was no small feat given the power of Enbridge and their messaging. They succeeded  and made a few other people think a bit more about what is really going on here.

Now I leave you with one last question. If what we, the voter, the citizen, thinks ‘does not matter and this is a done deal,’ why is Enbridge going to all this trouble and spending so much money?

Bruce Martindale was a City of Terrace councillor from 2008 to 2011.