Today, a group of professional opponents to pipeline developments got hold of some planning documents from our Energy East communications program, and released them to a number of journalists.
The release of this information, with all the claims of something underhanded, is their latest attempt to discredit the work we do and cast us as a villain for our efforts to ensure communities have the facts they need to make an informed decision about the Energy East Pipeline Project.
We think Canadians deserve better than backdoor attacks when what is at stake is the ability of an industry to meet the world’s increasing energy needs by connecting oil resources to consumers safely and reliably every day.
In a day and age where many extremely well-funded and organized opposition groups frequently use social media to publish misleading claims about the proposed Energy East pipeline, our company cannot stay idle and let factually incorrect stories take a life of their own and create misconceptions that are very hard to change.
We are proud of our Energy East project and what it represents for Canadian communities, First Nations and workers. That’s why we are going to take this information directly to Canadians – and we have been public about this. In advertising campaigns, online and in face-to-face meetings with Canadians across the country.
We believe at TransCanada that our six-decade experience, building and operating pipelines that supply millions of North Americans with the gas and oil they need every day, puts us in a better position to tell that story. We seek to debunk the myths and outright fabrications circulated by professional activists, and answer the legitimate questions that local residents, landowners, First Nation communities, governments or the media have about safety, the protection of the environment and the economic benefits this project will generate.
In the face of this organized opposition who has been known in the past to use misinformation to confuse the public, we feel a duty to make sure that those who want the facts about the project have them, and those who want to show their support, feel comfortable doing so. That is our objective and our focus with this program.
This is why we started working with a consulting firm a few months ago. They have provided support to help us better engage in the public debate about Energy East in Quebec and the rest of Canada. The documents published today are recommendations provided to TransCanada for the Energy East project. While these versions are not the latest, we have moved forward with implementing certain components of the strategy.
Those include our paid media campaigns in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. We have also launched our energyeastpipeline.com website in French and English, as well as an advocacy program, which allows those who support the project an opportunity to speak out and share their stories with us. In the two weeks that followed its launch, more than 2,500 people have joined our advocacy campaign.
This shows that there are men and women out there who genuinely believe that building this pipeline is a good thing for our country; that it will generate jobs and economic opportunities in the communities along its route; that it will make good use of our domestic resources to end Eastern Canada’s dependence on foreign exports; and that it will be the safest mode to transport oil across our country.
We want to ensure these people are heard too. We have been open and transparent about all of these programs since they launched and we will continue to do so. In fact, we announced the effort and the URL of our action network at our press conference last month to announce the project regulatory filing.
We have not implemented all of the recommendations in the document. We are focused on the pieces that support a coordinated and organized communications program to ensure all Canadians have the facts to make an informed decision about Energy East. Part of that includes ensuring that we understand what organized opponents are saying about our project.
All of the information that we use draws on what these professional opponents say on the record, on websites or other public forums. This helps TransCanada better engage in the conversation to make sure we are providing the media, governments, scholars, industry partners and community members with the correct information about the project.
One of the lessons that we have learned on Keystone XL is the importance of holding our opponents accountable for the claims they make and the actions they take. Just as our shareholders and the business community hold our organization accountable for our actions, we too feel a duty to ensure that well-organized global opponents are held to the same standard of accountability and transparency.
This is what they would expect of us and what Canadians would expect from everyone.
We will not apologize for promoting the value of the industry, responding to legitimate and sensible concerns or for ensuring Canadians have the facts about Energy East. We are proud of this project, proud of our contributions to Canadians and the economy, and proud to be able to tell our story about Energy East.