Energy, Oil & Gas, Politics, Psychology

TransCanada’s “Bully Strategy”

The Energy East panel sessions are set to kick off today in Saint John, New Brunswick. Saint John is the proposed final Canadian destination for 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta’s Tar Sands and the Bakken region of North Dakota. Although this seems like the beginning of the process, TransCanada has been secretly hard at work over the past few years identifying opponents, researching their social and personal details and strategizing how to defeat them before they even get a word out.

A document dated August 5th, 2014 and titled “Energy East Campaign Organization: Promote, Respond, Pressure” identifies how TransCanada planned to destroy opposition to the proposed Energy East pipeline by playing offence and attacking known environmental organizations.

“Our willingness to defend ourselves is almost as important as success” – TransCanada

Under the “Respond” section of the document, TransCanada says they will “anticipate and respond rapidly to unfavorable coverage, charges and negative attacks and capitalize on nimble opportunities.” They also say that their shareholders and stakeholders (including affected communities) must see the company mount a visible defense in order to convince them of the dedicated nature and long term benefit of their relationship.

“Add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission and causing them to redirect their resources.” – TransCanada

Under the “Pressure” section of the document, TransCanada says “We cannot allow our opponents to have a free pass. They will use every piece of information they can find to attack TransCanada and this project.” TransCanada then accuses opponents of being “part of a larger, modern oppositional effort to silence those on the other side.”  Silence the “other side”? The last time I checked, public opposition to fossil fuel pipelines wasn’t about silencing the oil companies. It’s about building a better future where our air is clean to breathe, our water fit to drink, our land suitable to grow food and our climate habitable for human civilization.

“Work with third parties to pressure Energy East opponents.” – TransCanada

TransCanada mentions the use of “third parties” numerous times in the document.

  • “Third-party voices must also be identified, recruited and heard to build an echo chamber of aligned voices.”
  • “We can work with the Community Relations team to develop a list of third-party
    experts and credible community voices with whom we can form strategic relationships and possibly enlist to author op-ed pieces, blog posts or letters to the editor.”
  • “Then we will match messages to identified third-party allies and engage them.”
  • “We can also leverage third parties for both Promote and Respond activities.”
  • “An influencer outreach strategy engages third-party issue experts (including pro-energy groups, free-market think tanks, academics, former government officials and supportive pundits) to solicit their perspective on specific topics, extend a company’s reach to nontraditional allies and develop a base of support to help defend the company during a crisis.”
  • “We can adapt our strategy to anticipate opposition activity, extend TransCanada’s sphere of influence and advocacy base and generate opinion media by the third-parties in support of Energy East.”

“We will counter misinformed, oppositional or threatening narratives with Paid Media.” – TransCanada

Have you ever searched something related to TransCanada or Energy East and been bombarded with the company’s advertising in the following days? Here’s why:

TransCanada says, “We will counter misinformed, oppositional or threatening narratives with Paid Media in the form of Search (i.e., when people search for us, it is optimal to have our links surface to redirect traffic). Specifically, we can employ it in social media to counter negative tweets, etc. Furthermore, we can have an “Always On Display” with a contextual skew where someone reading about the pipeline (specific) or the energy sector (broad) would see our banners in and around the space.”

“We will prepare a research profile of key opposition groups by examining public records.” – TransCanada

Under the “Pressure” section of the document, TransCanada explains how they will “Prepare a research profile of key opposition groups by examining public records (including financial disclosures, legal databases and legislative records), traditional media sources (news databases such as Lexis-Nexis and Factiva) and social media (Facebook, Twitter and other relevant sites).” TransCanada then explains how they will compile relevant findings on the opposition into a written, fully documented report with a summary of findings and an assessment of strengths and weaknesses. The company then goes on to list organizations at the top of their hit list including:

  • Council of Canadians
  • Equiterre
  • David Suzuki Foundation
  • Avaaz
  • Ecology Ottawa

Confronting the Bully in the Room

This strategy by TransCanada speaks volumes of truth about the proposed Energy East project. If the pipeline is truly in the best interest of Canadians, it shouldn’t require a bully strategy to push it through the backyards of communities across the country.

Panel sessions will run from August 8th to December 16th and are set to be held in 10 different locations across the country. You can tune in online at Whether you’re formally involved in the NEB process or a concerned citizen, I encourage you to raise your voice in a constructive manner. Use social media, write op-eds and talk to your neighbours about your concerns.

Together, we can confront the bully in the room!

I’m working hard to assist those impacted by the Energy East project. 

Let’s Connect!

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