Ethical Oil political connections, part 1: Conservatives “Go Newclear”

As a once in a generation Canadian pipeline review process gets underway, the rhetoric around the massive Northern Gateway project has heated up noticeably. The Conservative government and the Ethical Oil pro-industry group seemed to take turns ratcheting up attacks on environmental groups opposing the project almost daily. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver may have set a new low in his recent attacks on those who would  “hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda”, backed by “foreign special interest groups”, not to mention “billionaire socialists … like George Soros”. The eerie echoes of Ethical Oil’s recent advertising campaign and back-and-forth timing have led some to recall previously discussed ties between Stephen Harper’s Conservative government and key Ethical Oil figures Ezra Levant and former executive director Alykhan Velshi (now safely back in the PMO).

But it turns out there are other interesting ties behind the scenes. An examination of the web server hosting EthicalOil.org reveals a network of fifty or so websites, mainly on behalf of right-wing causes and politicians. The latter include two Conservative cabinet ministers, Velshi’s old boss immigration minister Jason Kenney and that scourge of foreign billionaire socialists, Joe Oliver. And it also points to the key involvement of Go Newclear Productions, a somewhat mysterious “full service digital agency with a focus on public affairs and politics”.

Go Newclear is headed up by none other than political wunderkind Hamish Marshall, already a veteran of both the PMO and  the Conservative federal council – and husband of hapless Ethical Oil spokesperson Kathryn Marshall. The other Go Newclear directors /officers (and presumed principals)  are linked to the Conservative PR machine known as the Conservative Resources Group; radio and TV advertising specialist Brendan Jones left the CRG in 2009, while developer Travis Freeman, astonishingly enough, is still with the group. Not only that, but the Ethical Oil cluster of websites and Joe Oliver.ca form a distinct sub-group within the Go Newclear network, with unmistakeable signs of common development and a deployment seemingly aimed at obfuscating the link to Newclear team. So there is more than just common ideology tying EthicalOil.org to the Conservative PR machine; they also share digital service providers – and a lack of transparency.

Newclear then and now

The roots of Go Newclear Productions go back to early 2009. That’s when Brendan Jones left the Conservative Resource Group, a “research and public relations bureau of the Conservative Party” with about 30 employees. (The CRG is listed in the Canadian government employee directory under the rubric Conservative Research Bureau).  According to his Linkedin profile, Jones held down stints as special assistant and website administrator for Stephen Harper and then was  Television & Radio Specialist at the CRG up until January 2oo9 .

As the startup’s Chief Creative Officer, Jones did not preside over much activity at first from all appearances. As late as July 2010, Newclear did not even have a functioning website. But that all began to change with the arrival of  Hamish Marshall.

Marshall’s LinkedIn resume certainly shows a young ambitious political mover on the rise. As Manager of Strategic Planning in Stephen Harper’s PMO, Marshall was responsible for the Conservative government’s public opinion research. In 2007, Marshall moved back to NaiKun Wind Energy Group in British Columbia and then in 2009 became Research Director for Angus Reid Strategies, managing the public affairs practice in western Canada. During this period, Marshall was also on the Conservative national council, representing B.C. and chairing the National Candidate Selection Committee.

Public Eye Online described Marshall’s next move in June 2010:

Angus Reid Public Opinion research director Hamish Marshall is leaving the polling firm he joined in April 2009. In an email obtained by Public Eye, Mr. Marshall announced “today is my last day at Angus Reid Public Opinion. I am off to pursue some exciting opportunities (more on that later).” Specifically, he’ll be the president and chief executive officer of Go Newclear Productions Inc., a Web development company. Mr. Marshall will also continue to do political research work for a small unnamed company.

The “small unnamed company” turned out to be Abingdon Research, whose founder Jonathan Snoek has since departed for SECOR Consulting, apparently leaving Marshall as sole active principal.

The rest of 2010 saw a fair amount of work for Newclear and Abingdon with Alberta’s right-wing Wildrose Party, including development of the main Wildrose website and a number of individual ones for members and candidates, not to mention a controversial online poll. Marshall also got involved in British Columbia provincial politics, helping John Cummins to the B.C. Conservative leadership and now, as the  party’s campaign manager, overseeing selection of candidates for an election expected within a year or so. Almost all of those websites are hosted on a Newclear controlled server at ThePlanet.com, part of the SoftLayer.com server farm empire based in Dallas, Texas.

“Strategic Imperatives Online” (or what’s in a name server?)

I’ll be taking a more detailed look at those Wildrose and BC Conservative connections in part 2. For now, though, I’ll merely point out that while Newclear hasn’t exactly trumpeted any of this activity, neither have they taken any steps to hide their involvement; the name server for all these websites is found at GoNewclearProductions.com. (A name server is a domain or server designated to resolve browser and other internet requests for “look up” of other domains; each domain name must have an associated name server to provide the translation of a domain name into a numeric IP address. For example, here is the whois information for wildrosecaucus.ca, showing the designated name server as ns1.GoNewclearProductions.com).

2010 also saw the creation of another name server: StrategicImperativesOnline.com.This domain name’s owner is completely hidden,  and the domain has no obvious ties to Newclear, except that the few domains associated with it happen to be hosted on the same server as the other Newclear domains. Even that could be coincidental (although very unlikely in this case); sometimes single websites or small domain groups are ganged on servers (or server clouds) with other unrelated websites. However, the Newclear connection is clinched by noting that just after being registered StrategicImperativesOnline.com had GoNewclearProductions.com as its own name server – for all of one day.

An overlapping chronology

The websites associated with that name server are, well, arguably somewhat sensitive, especially when viewed as a group. The following chronology shows in bold all the “strategically imperative” websites launched since the beginning of 2011, along with other relevant events.

  • 2011-01-28: JasonKenney.com redesigned and moved to Newclear.
  • 2011-03-09: Ethical Oil Institute is incorporated in Alberta.
  • 2011-05-04: Alykhan Velshi leaves Kenney’s office to run EthicalOil.org.
  • 2011-06-21: EthicalOil.org is launched as a simple blog (see July 14 version).
  • 2011-07-05: Joe Oliver.ca redesigned and moved to Newclear.
  • 2011-07-28: Revamped and expanded EthicalOil.org is launched.
  • 2011-08-26: First Ethical Oil TV ad runs on Oprah network in Canada.
  • 2011-12-15: Ethical Oil launches ChiquitaConflict.com and Alberta radio ad boycott campaign after Chiquita asked transporters to avoid oil sands fuel.
  • 2012-01-02: Ethical Oil launches OurDecision.ca in conjunction with radio ads attacking “foreign influence” on B.C. environmental groups just ahead of Northern Gateway pipeline hearings.

One interesting question in light of the above is which members of the Go Newclear team might have actually executed the various projects.

Turning first to the easier question of the TV and radio ads, it’s a reasonable inference that responsibility for these fell to Newclear CCO Brendan Jones, given his background as a radio and TV specialist for the Conservative Resource Group.

But how about the websites? The earliest website listed above, JasonKenney.com, has a lot in common with the rest of the Newclear portfolio, such as WildroseCaucus.ca: A garish design along with a fairly standard WordPress and jQuery implementation, often using a CodaSlider plug-in to provide the ever changing “panels” of featured stories that slide into place one after the other.

The next two websites,  EthicalOil.org and JoeOliver.ca, are clearly much slicker than the other Newclear websites. And although they have quite different looks and functionality (with EthicalOil.org sporting a blog comment system from Disqus.com and various “grass roots campaigns” tools), there is unmistakeable commonality behind the scenes.

Unlike all of the other Newclear websites I have examined (and I’ve looked at the source code for about a dozen now), these two websites use a more recent JavaScript plug-in called  AnythingSlider to present the opening page panels. Not only that, they use exactly the same version of  AnythingSlider, as can be easily seen by comparing the EthicalOil.org version with the one on JoeOliver.ca.

In a similar vein, both websites include the FancyBox plug-in which gives a, well, fancy floating “lightbox” effect to photos or other images (it’s a Mac thing apparently). Here’s a screenshot of FancyBox in action at the JoeOliver.ca photo page.

I haven’t found an instance of FancyBox at EthicalOil.org; perhaps it isn’t even used. But it’s definitely there – and, once again, the JoeOliver.ca and EthicalOil.org versions are identical. (Fittingly, the only other website that has this plugin is OurDecision.ca, although, it too does not appear to use it).

The inescapable inference is that the current versions of these two flagship “strategic imperative” websites were done by the same developer around the same time.

The only known member of the Go Newclear team with apparent web development experience is the mysterious “third man”, Travis Freeman. So perhaps he is the unknown developer or else supervised the effort. But even in the unlikely event that Freeman has had no active role whatsoever in any Newclear projects, his presence on the Go Newclear team, while also holding down a government job as developer at the Conservative Resource Group (a.k.a. Conservative Research Bureau), is highly problematic, to say the least.

So add the names of Hamish Marshall, Brendan Jones and Travis Freeman, alongside Levant and Velshi, to the growing list of Ethical Oil connections to the Conservative Party of Canada.

It’s time to ask some real questions and demand more transparency about what’s really going on here. Such as:

  • What communications and transactions have occurred between and among Conservative government ministers or aides, Go Newclear and/or Ethical Oil?
  • And how can the presence of a Conservative employee on the board of a supposedly independent digital media firm possibly be explained or justified?

But don’t expect any answers from EthicalOil.org, if this interview of Ethical Oil spokesperson Kathryn Marshall (along with the Sierra Club’s John Bennet) by CBC’s Evan Solomon is anything to go by (the amazing performance starts at around 5 minutes in).

Marshall’s repeated refusal to respond to a  simple yes-or-no question about financial support from Northern Gateway principal backer Enbridge must set some sort of record for evasion (not to mention further damaging the credibility of claims to be a “grassroots” organization). So, just as Marshall has done in that interview and elsewhere, EthicalOil.org will probably try and dismiss these questions, along with the growing evidence suggesting co-ordination with the Conservatives, as “conspiracy theories”.

Here are some parting thoughts from the Newclear strategists, as heard at the end of their annoying, but ultimately revealing video.

So the next time your organization, brand, product, service or candidate needs to consolidate power or ward off potential attack, we suggest that you decide to Go Newclear.

It looks like some folks in Ottawa and Calgary may have taken that advice.

[Update, January 17]

Here’s a fine graphic from a piece by Matt Price of Huffington Post, highlighting the links between the Conservative Party and Ethical Oil.

Coneservative - Ethical Oil links

[Update, January 20]

Emma Pullman has done a follow up at DeSmogblog, detailing the role of Sun TV (Ezra Levant’s current employer) in the Conservative-Ethical Oil echo chamber attacking “radical” environmental groups, as well as outlining the history of “Fox News North”.

And she also points out that many of the Go Newclear websites use the exact same CSS Reset code, reinforcing the presumption that the websites of interest were developed by the same developer.

108 responses to “Ethical Oil political connections, part 1: Conservatives “Go Newclear”

  1. I couldn’t get Sir Walter Scott’s famous quote:

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practise to deceive!”

    (Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi, Stanza 17)

    out of my mind while reading this posting. Are there no limits to the dishonesty and scurrilous behaviour the Conservatives will stoop to?

  2. Deep Climate, can I know how you obtained the histories of the domain names? I understand the histories aren’t available via domaintools.com’s free services. Did you bite the bullet and pay the subscription fee to get this information?

    — frank

    • Yes, domaintools.com is the only way I know. Looks like DesmogBlog did the same. A month’s subscription is a reasonable deal, if you have a lot of research saved up to do.

  3. Great research!

    I oddly had the urge to do a similar line of research last night. I found an additional fact that you may find very interesting…

    suntvnews.ca also has the same name servers as some of the other sites listed in the article (ns1.gonewclearproductions.com). It isn’t hosted on the same IP but it is hosted on an adjacent one (174.123.161.13) which is part of a block of IP addresses that must have been allocated for this companies hosting needs.

    Go New Clear Productions -> suntv news -> wild rose alliance -> conservative party -> ethical oil….

    what an interesting web of links!

    • Yep, I saw that one too. But it’s just a bunch of redirects as far as I can tell (i.e. the main Sun TV site, SunNewsNetwork.ca, is hosted somewhere else, at least for now). Still, yet another connection as Ethical Oil chair Ezra Levant is one of Sun TV’s “stars” of course.

      And check out the top story there …

  4. Kudos to DC and a fantastically researched piece.

  5. Would it make sense to issue a freedom of information request to look for any government correspondence with this group?

    • Well, if someone does get around to sending those information access requests, I’d like to know what the rejection letters say.

      Something like ‘Sorry, we can’t fulfill your request to see all the correspondence between Prime Minister Harper and Go Newclear, because it’ll take way way way more than 18 hours to sort through all that stuff’ will be extremely cool. ;-B

      — frank

    • Actually, I think the PMO may be exempt from FOI.

  6. I bow down before you. I was digging for the same information, and you not only beat me to it, but explained it so much better than I did. Thank you for this fantastic piece. I will make sure it gets shared.

  7. And they dare smear environmentalists and high profile ‘star power’ persons who disagree with them? Harper is going to have the biggest fight on his hands if they push this through and ignore the general public who are more and more against the dirty Albert oil pipelines in BC!

  8. I take it we can assume that Embridge is funding Ethical Oil? Perhaps not but that is the conclusion I draw from Katryn Marshal’s parroting of the “small grass-roots organization”. Perhaps she meant “small astroturf organization”?

    By the way, did anyone notice that Mr. Oliver’s line about foreign intervention seems a lot like Bashir Al assad’s line? Or was that Mubarak’s? Or, maybe, Ghadaffi’s? Oh heck, maybe all ot them.

    • Enbridge should really clear the air and say whether the company or its executives have donated to Ethical Oil. Or whether they have provided other forms of encouragement (e.g. permitting internal fund-raising campaigns via email).

      I’d say invocation of the bogeyman foreign interests via respected local (i.e. Canadian) environmental organizations (including the Pembina Institute for goodness sake) is a uniquely Canadian phenomenon.

    • It’s just like Levant faking his idea of what “liberals” think by pushing “ethical” oil; now they are aping their stereotype of Canadians being anti-American without understanding the difference between being wary of your big erratic neighbour and just being prejudiced against all things US.

    • On Twitter, Enbridge has said that it does not fund Ethical Oil. However, until EO reveals who is actually funding them, then we can safely assume that they have some big corporate donors. I recall that EO has rather sneakily claimed that the majority of their donors are individuals (which may well be true) but it’s probably the case that the majority of their donations (measured in dollars) comes from corporations or plutocrats. This kind of lawyerly deception is actually quite revealing about the group’s own commitment to honest communication. Perhaps we should rename them “Oily Ethics”.

    • The Ken Donnelly had a long twitter conversation with Northern Gateway, Marshall, etc. The Northern Gateway tweet answered “no” when asked if it funded “Ethical Oil” but it has not replied to a query on whether it funds EO indirectly:

      However I think another possibility could be that the Conservative government itself is funding EO, which might be illegal and which certainly would be immoral. They would be afraid of letting that be known.

  9. Excellent post. Thank you for your work!

  10. Excellent research and links, DC. That Newclear promotional video really is something else. Talk about being fixated with destruction. Their selling point as a marketing/ad firm is that they’re expert at negative advertising and media manipulation. Nice! Someone should send it to Terry O’Reilly of the “Age of Persuasion”.

  11. Good idea, Beijing. I think I’ll do just that.

    And while I rewatched that vid I giggled terrifically. If they were providing strategic management on the ethical oil (sic) file, it seems to me they’ve just lost themselves a whole s***load of business because it’s proving to be a BIG FAIL!

  12. Pingback: Round-up Ready Radicals* « the regina mom

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  14. I’m from Prince Rupert, B.C. and we have a little community forum here where we talk about local to Prince Rupert issues as well as what is going on in NorthWestern BC. http://hackingthemainframe.com/forum/

    One of the topics is titled “Pipeline Good for North” which was started by a long time local.

    I ended up on your blog page because of an entry in this forum. A resident of another community complained that a facebook page made it look like the Chamber of Commerce in Fort St James was coming out in support of the Northern Gateway pipeline. I found your blog after I became curious as to who is behind the creation of a string of facebook groups for Northwestern BC Communites coming out in support of the Northern Gateway.

    These pages all with similar themes/logos have appeared for the communities of Prince George, Fort St James, Fraser Lake, Burns Lake, Houston, Smithers, Kitimat. It appears people “Foreign” to these communities have been creating these face book groups.

    The quote that cot me started on Hackingthemainframe.com was the following from a chap from Fort St James,

    “Here’s more deceit to feed the fire, I forgot about it until the Chamber got pissed off here. We all got Facebook notices to click if you “like” Fort St. James. If you clicked like, you discovered you now supported the Gateway Project and pipeline.
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fort-St-J … 9529500584
    Note the picture of our Chamber of Commerce log building trying to imply they support it. And the comments of people and Directors that this is total bullshit.I reported it as a scam and encourage others to report the page as well.herbie_popnecker

    If you look at the posts on the Fort St James FaceBook Page, you’ll see a Director of the Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce states
    THIS IS FALSE AND IN NO WAY HAS BEEN ENDORSED BY THE FORT ST. JAMES CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. WE DID NOT GIVE ANYONE AUTHORITY TO USE THIS PHOTOGRAPH.
    Wendy Swan, Director
    Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce

    In short, the dirty tricks are showing up as anticipated and as scheduled. I’m not sure how you go about finding who is behind these pages but I suspect your article has given me a strong hint.

    Thanks again and please feel free to come visit us in NorthWest BC at Hackingthemainframe.com

  15. Pingback: MARSHALLING OF FACTS (Part-1) « My Night Dreams

  16. I won’t suggest they’re taking stupid pills, but they must think we are.

  17. fabulous article, a ray of light in a deep dark and dirty mediascape. keep going…!

  18. Pingback: Reason & Evidence » Blog Archive » EthicalOil.org’s Social Network

  19. Thanks for the excellent research.
    After watching the K Marshall exchange on P & P, I came across a quote in Paul Gilding’s latest book, The Great Disruption, that seemed very appropriate: “Hell hath no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle.”

  20. DP – an incredible and amazingly rapid investigation, absolutely well done. I am sure you are archiving all your information, perhaps with a copy that is date-stamped and not modified after, so you can track changes to these websites as they morph in response to increasing scrutiny?

    • Free radical… I saw your handle and immediately thought of “The Free Radical,” a libertarian bimonthly out of New Zealand so I immediately clicked. I used to do their website design. They are a little on the denier side. One of their essays included:

      Global Warming: “. . . The Panic Is Offi cially Over”
      IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, 2007: Analysis & Summary.
      by Christopher Monckton, February 2007

  21. Pingback: Enbridge Facts - Section Three – Must Read Articles | The "JLS" Report

  22. Everyone get screen shots of the relevant pages. They might disappear upon scrutiny.

  23. Man, I wish someone would do this kind of research to see the Harper governments obsession with getting rid of the Canadian Wheat Board which costs the Taxpayer nothing but is so high on the hit list. It would be a trail back to grain companies, chemical companies and all the other big corps who benefit from this “marketing freedom”

  24. Web Citations (Excludes LinkedIn, DNS, Youtube, should otherwise be in order, the citations are dated, some formatting may be lost.)

    Joe Oliver: Open Letter…

    http://www.webcitation.org/64iomEnrs

    http://www.joeoliver.ca/news/an-open-letter-from-the-honourable-joe-oliver-minister-of-natural-resources-on-canada%E2%80%99s-commitment-to-diversify-our-energy-markets-and-the-need-to-further-streamline-the-regulatory-process/

    Industry Canada: Go Newclear Productions Inc.

    http://www.webcitation.org/64ioeKPJu

    https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/scr/cc/CorporationsCanada/fdrlCrpDtls.html?corpId=7125241&V_TOKEN=1326409528758&crpNm=go%20newclear&crpNmbr=&bsNmbr=

    Business Profiles: Go Newclear Productions Inc

    http://www.webcitation.org/64ioXpFJT

    http://businessprofiles.com/details/Go_Newclear_Productions_Inc/CA-819180290RC0001

    Sixth Estate: Conservative Party of Canada

    http://www.webcitation.org/64ioPYakt

    http://www.sixthestate.net/loonietracker/index.php?title=Conservative_Party_of_Canada#Conservative_Resource_Group

    Browse Organization
    Search in : Conservative Research Bureau

    http://www.webcitation.org/64ioHI6sG

    http://sage-geds.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/cgi-bin/direct500/eng/XEou%3dCON-BUR%2cou%3dCON-PAR%2cou%3dHOU-AGE%2cou%3dHoC-CdC%2co%3dGC%2cc%3dCA

    Abingdon Research

    http://www.webcitation.org/64io9b0E3

    http://www.abingdon.ca/

    Abingdon Research – Leadership

    http://www.webcitation.org/64inynTX8

    http://www.abingdon.ca/our-firm/leadership/

    Danielle Smith – Wildrose

    http://www.wildrose.ca

    http://www.webcitation.org/64insQvXV

    http://jasonkenney.com/

    http://www.webcitation.org/64ipvPRF8

    John Cummins

    http://cumminsforbc.ca/

    http://www.webcitation.org/64inbadD7

    http://www.webcitation.org/64inisj18

    http://www.albertadiary.ca/2011/06/poll-says-wildrose-alliance-within.html

    Wild Rose Caucus

    http://www.wildrosecaucus.ca/

    http://www.webcitation.org/64imphwpm

    Jason Kenney

    http://jasonkenney.com/

    http://www.webcitation.org/64ipCmXCs

    Joe Oliver

    http://www.joeoliver.ca/

    http://www.webcitation.org/64ipLpI54

    http://www.ethicaloil.org/

    http://www.webcitation.org/64ipOjJ6U

    http://chiquitaconflict.com/

    http://www.webcitation.org/64ipiuNgt

    http://www.ourdecision.ca/

    http://www.webcitation.org/64ipo53kA

    http://chiquitaconflict.com/

    http://www.webcitation.org/64iprHIPs

    http://sage-geds.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/cgi-bin/direct500/eng/SEo%3dGC%2cc%3dCA?SV=freeman%2C+travis&SF=Surname%2C+Given+name&ST=begins+with&x=1&y=1

    Note: Oftentimes website queries can’t be webcitationed due to the path. Sometimes you can get around this using a url shortner first, then entering the shortened path in Webcitation to create an image of the original page.

  25. @ frank — Decoding SwiftHack
    Sorry I don’t have the actual email or post that was sent to the HTMF member from Ft St. James, so I can’t comment on how misleading the email or post actually was.
    @Joe – Yeah amazing how grassroots movements spring up in unison across a number of Northern Communities. The communities up here struggle on agreeing what time of day it is so launching a series of support the pipeline pages at the same time hardly has the hallmark of a grassroots movement. For the official position of one of the communities on this pipeline take a look at the following. The City of Prince Rupert is registered as an intervenor at enbridge and this is our city’s position on the pipeline;

    http://www.princerupert.ca/images/news/159.pdf

    Since I’m sure we have american taxpayers in Prince Rupert, I guess this makes the municipality one of those foreign funded radical organizations Joe Oliver is warning us about.

  26. A lot of this is pretty complicated to understand, but I did understand that so-called “religious” groups were springing up like mushrooms to denounce climate change as some sort of heresy. Such deceptive tactics not only confuse religious people about what their church leaders actually believe, but they make environmentalists mad at churches for no reason. We have to be careful on the Internet to be sure that special interests aren’t putting words in people’s mouths because we may end up mistakenly attacking people whose voices have been hijacked and alienating them. Attacking the victims may even make confused victims believe the lies being put in their mouths.

  27. Incidentally, I didn’t webcite the news articles from major news outlets. I don’t expect those to disappear any time soon.

    bigcitylib, et al., something else you might try:

    1. Create three bookmarks. Doesn’t matter to what though.
    2. Edit the bookmarks so that the web addresses they point to are:

    javascript:void(window.open(‘http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?search=’+escape(window.getSelection())+’&go=Go’))
    javascript:void(window.open(‘http://search.nndb.com/search/nndb.cgi?nndb=1&omenu=unspecified&query=’+escape(window.getSelection())))
    javascript:void(window.open(‘http://mediamattersaction.org/transparency/search?name=’+escape(window.getSelection())))

    … with one line of javascript per bookmark.
    3. Edit the names of the hyperlinks accordingly.
    4. Now select the name of an organization as it appears in some webpage.
    5. Leaving the text selected, go to one of the hyperlinks.

    A new window/tab should open with results of a query on the selected text. If it doesn’t work for you then you might try Chrome — which is what I use. But I figure it’s browser-agnostic.

  28. Did a post on this this morning:

    http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com/2012/01/northern-gateway-proponents-play-dirty.html

    Has anyone located any of the other pages noted. I have not been able to do so (though I haven’t tried terribly hard).

  29. I see Kathryn Marshall used to be part of the Fraser Institute. Surprised… not.

  30. You can see all ten Facebook pages in the series Northern BC “Supports Northern Gateway Pipeline”, via this Google search.

    The pages appear to feature the work of freelance photographer Robin Rowland, who also runs the online Northwest Coast Energy News (which is the source of most of the current entries). The overall info and early entries are very pro-Gateway, but now it looks more like a NWCEN news feed. Not very slick, and kind of weird.

    As for the list, Joe nailed that above:

    There are currently 10 Facebook pages from cities in northern British Columbia that proclaim to support the Northern Gateway pipeline: Prince George; Smithers; Kitimat; Fort St. James; Burns Lake; Fraser Lake; Houston; Vanderhoof; Bruderheim; and Bears Lake.

    Rowland is also providing some of the photographic coverage of Northern Gateway hearings via Canadian Press and Reuters (e.g. Winnipeg Free Press last December and Vancouver Sun a few days ago).

  31. Pingback: EthicalOil.org loves to share! | The Exile

  32. Is Evan Solomon and/or the CBC (particularly the Fifth Estate) aware of this? This would make for one heck of a story!

    • A few media types have tweeted about it, so I think it’s just a question of time before the mainstream media picks up on it.

    • Terri Robson

      i emailed yesterday, requesting Evan ask ezra who ethicaloils server is. and ask if it is true that ethicaloil is now under the direction of ezra’s lawyers law firm. same one that represents many oil firms involved, my thinking is it may also be a back door for campaign contributions for wildrose.

  33. I sure hope so DC. This is pretty remarkable stuff. Kudos to you.

  34. Pingback: canadian blogs - Matt Price: GRAPHIC: Six Degrees of Separation Between Ethical Oil and Conservatives

  35. Nice graphic, Matt Price

  36. Rick Mercer takes on radicals and foreign money. Hilarious, with a retro look and feel not unlike the Go Newclear video!

  37. The real foreign interests in the oilsands

    The $5.5-billion Enbridge pipeline project is all about sending Alberta bitumen in huge oil tankers to China. Beijing’s own state enterprises are among the project’s major backers, and Beijing has been buying up Alberta’s oilpatch at such a dizzying pace lately it’s hard to keep up. In the spring of 2010, China’s state-owned Sinopec Corp. took a $4.65-billion piece of Syncrude. Then the China Investment Corporation, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party, took possession of a $1.25-billon share of Penn West Petroleum. Last summer, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation gobbled up Opti Canada for $2.34 billion. And so on.

    Then, last month, Sinopec spent $2.2-billion to take over Daylight Energy Ltd., and last week, Petro-China, with the final push of $1.9 billion, became the owner and manager of the MacKay River oilsands project. This is what Ottawa doesn’t want you noticing.

    What’s the Harper gang been saying lately about nasty foreign interests?

  38. Emma Pullman has done a follow up at DeSmogblog, detailing the role of Sun TV (Ezra Levant’s current employer) in the Conservative-Ethical Oil echo chamber attacking “radical” environmental groups, and outling the history of “Fox News North”.

    And she also points out that many of the Newclear websites use the exact same CSS Reset code, reinforcing the conclusion that the same developer worked on the websites of interest.

    http://desmogblog.com/friends-benefits-harper-government-ethicaloil-org-and-sun-media-connection

  39. Pingback: Friends with Benefits | DesmogBlog

  40. Any connections between the “Ethical Oil” cabal and Bruce Carson and the CSEE? http://sixthestate.net/?tag=bruce-carson

    Could CSEE have a related website?
    (Don’t post this if you prefer not)

    [DC: It doesn't appear to be related. But it has an interesting history of its own. ]

  41. Pingback: Hyperbole, Haste and the Nail in the Coffin: The Death of Oil Pipedreams « the regina mom

  42. An Irish website has the same logo as “Ethical Oil”; but it appears to be more recent, so possibly they ripped off EO? Or could Go Newclear have done that website?

    http://www.aquawatch.ie/index.html

    • The domain name appears to have been registered in January 2011 at the latest, or maybe even January 2010 (renewal date is coming up). There is a press release (undated) about a technical competition runner up prize in October 2010. So it’s not clear that it is more recent – I’ll look into it.

      The blue-green drop is identical though, right down to the shape of the three curves and lightening of the blue as one moves towards the top. Here’s a close up.

      Blue-green drop

    • There is one archive.org capture for aquawatch.ie and it dates from November 3, 2010.

      Unfortunately, the file server for Aquawatch.ie at that crawl time seems perpetually down. Still, it’s not looking good for EthicalOil.org.

  43. Archive.org screenshot of AquaWatch.ie on November 3, 2010.

    Aquawatch 2010-11-03

  44. So to make a long story short, EthicalOil is using a $10 logo, rather than a custom logo trademarked by AquaWatch. In the end, that’s not earthshaking news. I sure hope nobody runs with this “copyright infringement” story.

    On the other hand, I do recall that the “stoning of women” image in early EthicalOil promo was lifted from a dramatic film still. And that Fort McMurray’s mayor was not particularly happy about being used as part of the promo.

    • Not to mention their using Krause’s research on the new website without acknowledging that it was hers.

      But how disappointing – I was hoping to dig up a full blown conspiracy, a Waterlogogate.

  45. Deep Climate wrote:

    Weird … not sure why comments are out of order.

    A glitch in the matrix?

    Deep Climate wrote:

    Well at $10 a pop it’s hardly worth worrying about either way.

    It is a rather telling detail, though. Astroturf. Real grassroots might have something looking like it was made by a kid with a crayola. Although I doubt it. There would likely be someone with artistic talent. But the logo is the organization’s coat of arms. It would at least be original.

  46. Pingback: “Ethical Oil” joins media strategy to smear opposition | Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Evidence

  47. From Aquawatch:

    Hello Thank you for your e-mail alerting AquaWatch to the use of our logo by Ethical Oil. The name AquaWatch is trademarked, the logo is not. It was one of many presented to us by the graphic designers. We chose it as it represents a drop of water, with the blue signifying clean water and the green the ecological factor. AquaWatch manufactures and sells a water monitoring and leakage alert device. This enables a metered water user to keep an hourly track of his water usage and will sound the alarm when excessive water use is detected over a 24 hour period. Good luck in your efforts Regards Katharine Mc Gill

  48. Vancouver Sun’s Peter O’Neill is working on a story about claims by ex-ForestEthics communications manager Andrew Frank that the PMO has pressured Tides Canada to cut funding to Forest Ethics. The San Francisco based group is a vehement oil sands pipeline-tanker opponent and also pressured Chiquita to avoid oil-sands fuel.

    As I have detailed in a sworn affidavit, no less than three senior managers with TidesCanada and ForestEthics (a charitable project of Tides Canada), have informed me, as the Senior Communications Manager for ForestEthics, that Tides Canada CEO, Ross McMillan,was informed by the Prime Minister’s Office, that ForestEthics is considered an “Enemy of the Government of Canada,” and an “Enemy of the people of Canada.”

    This language was apparently part of a threat by the Prime Minister’s Office to challenge the charitable status of Tides Canada if it did not agree to stop funding ForestEthics,specifically its work opposing oilsands expansion and construction of oilsands tanker/pipeline routes in Canada.

    Tides Canada CEO has termed Frank’s statement “inaccurate”, but appears to confirm there have been discussions with the PMO, presumably on this subject.

    O’Neill live tweeted from the Forest Ethics press conference. Presumably his story will run tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, you can follow him on Twitter:

    https://twitter.com/#!/poneilinOttawa

    Forest Ethics was the only foreign group mentioned in the kick-off to Ethical Oil’s “Our Decision” campaign in support of Northern Gateway., along with five Canadian “foreign backed” “puppets”.

    http://www.ethicaloil.org/news/northern-gateway-our-decision-not-foreign-billionaires/

    http://www.ethicaloil.org/news/chiquita-cant-slip-out-of-its-pr-nightmare/

  49. The Forestethics statement by Valerie Langer is interesting: “…He is no longer a member of ForestEthics’ staff because he violated the confidence of the organization…” and
    “…But the bigger picture remains: It is a dark and chilling day…”

    http://www.forestethics.org/our-statement-on-recent-threats-to-canadian-civil-society-and-andrew-franks-open-letter

  50. Here is O’Neill’s piece:

    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Fired+spokesman+alleged+intimidation+pipeline+opponent/6045937/story.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    All are saying Frank’s story is “inaccurate”, but exactly which parts is unclear.

    And here is Frank’s affidavit, which includes email correspondnce with his ForestEthics superior and detailed accounts of various conversations.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/pdf/2012_01_23_affidavit_of_Andrew_Frank_made_January_23,_2012.PDF

  51. Interesting tweet today:

    The report by Tom Flanagan last summer about threats to oil

    http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/20Rafd/www.digitaljournal.com/article/277533

    I have found a historical report by Flanagan about a First Nation to be inadequately researched with a shallow analysis, making assumptions rather than statements of the facts. He is not that knowledgeable about First Nations and I think he would probably produce a report telling the think tank what they want to hear.

    [DC: This and repeat comments were in spam - no idea why they went there.]

  52. Globe and Mail corrobrates Andrew Frank’s story to a large degree, but also gives more context about the controversial November 15 meeting between the PMO and Tides Canada.

    It’s clear, however, that the PMO meeting stirred new concern for Tides, a charity, about its support of ForestEthics. Indeed, Tides requested the meeting after it came under increasing public scrutiny in light of the Gateway review. At the meeting, the two sides discussed what was allowable advocacy conduct for a charity, which can legally spend no more than 10 per cent of its budget on non-partisan political activities. A PMO official articulated the Harper government’s view of Canada’s national interest – which includes supporting Gateway – and pointed to ForestEthics as an example of a group acting against the government of Canada and the people of Canada.

    But Tides itself had already been examining its relationship with ForestEthics, which has taken an increasingly public stance against oil-sands projects. Employees at Tides had documented instances where ForestEthics had transgressed, or skirted the line on the restrictions on charitable activities.

    So according to the Globe’s unnamed sources, the PMO may or may not have used the exact phrase “enemy of the people of Canada”, but did express an equivalent opinion.

  53. Desmogblog has more on the NEB, which:

    “… issued a general directive one year ago designed to exclude input from prominent environmental groups critical of the astonishingly rapid expansion of the tar sands – an expansion that only stands to increase with the proposed pipeline. ..”

    http://www.desmogblog.com/built-fail-national-energy-board-muzzles-environmental-scientists-enbridge-northern-gateway-hearing

  54. This is superb research and of a type that my (50+) generation has never seen before.

    It’s time to go for the big fish. Can any of you Cybersleuths determine what GoNewclear and its affiliates were doing during the lead up to election Day May 2, 2011?

    [DC: That's a good question. But many of the subsequent suggestions and accusations are too speculative - sorry. Keep in mind that Go Newclear's specialties are online advertising, especially attack ads, and polling (via Abingdon). So whatever they did was probably in that realm.]

    Already knowing that Stephen Harper challenged 3rd party spending limits on federal elections in the supreme court in 2004:

    http://csc.lexum.org/en/2004/2004scc33/2004scc33.html

    [DC: I have discussed abuses of the rules on "third party" election spending in Saanich-Gulf islands in 2006 and 2008. There is also the 2006 Friends of Science advertising in key Ontario ridings just before the election. So far Elections Canada has has declined to take action in both cases.

    As far as the 2011 robocalls and other dirty tricks, though, it's way too early to say who was responsible, how far up the chain of command it went, and where the money came from. I have no doubt that Conservatives or Conservative supporters were involved, but beyond that, I would say it will probably take a judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of it. ]

    Anything you can uncover should be forwarded to the Commissioner of Canada Elections, who interestingly enough has just quit:

    http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=abo&dir=com&document=index&lang=e

    for prosecution under the Canada Elections Act.

  55. I don’t think a strong connection has been made yet, but you might want to check the connections made here in the post and the comments about Racknine mystery person/entity/false identity? “Rick McKnight”:

    http://thegallopingbeaver.blogspot.ca/2012/03/mcknight.html

  56. Hi there,

    Thank you for all the attention and links:

    Here’s a couple more you may have missed:
    * Rafael Minuesa’s Blog
    * Rafael Minuesa @ Linkedin
    Hope it helps with your “investigation”

    And yes, I do confess to the horrendous crime of using a pseudonym for handling social media accounts while working for RackNine.

    Wait a minute,
    Holly Stick ???
    Hummm …

    • Oh, please! Save yourself some dignity. Bloggers had you figured out long before the MSM did. But hey, keep denying you did anything wrong…someone’s sure to believe you. Hmm…but that didn’t work too well for a certain Saskatchewan politician…

    • Well, that is the subject of part 2 (and it will be out well before the Alberta election). I see that Hamish Marshall was mentioned in the article, but not Go Newclear, which maintains the vicious attack website against Allison Redford, RedfordFiles.ca, with some of the memes (e.g. the unethical Chiquita bananas) also a staple at EthicalOil.org. (The Rockford Files was a popular 70s TV show starring James Garner, for those who don’t get the retro reference).

      I’ll also be looking at the BC Conservative connection.

    • Ha, I saw someone, maybe Hamish, tweet about being occupied with what I read as the Rockford Files, but it probably was the Redford Files. I watched some Rockford DVDs a while ago. That’s one show that still holds up pretty well and is not as dated and dumb as many older shows.

      I won’t identify my usual grocery store in Calgary, but they are still selling Chiquita bananas and I doubt anyone much is boycotting them.

  57. Weird thought the Wildrose Party became the direct opposition to the Conservatives in Alberta

    http://www.theprovince.com/news/solid+Wildrose+poised+become+opposition+Alberta+poll/6038899/story.html

    I don’t get it

  58. The Wildrose Party is unfortunately allied with the federal Conservative Party of Canada, not to be confused with its predecessor the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada which, before its takeover by Stephen Harper was more akin to the Conservative Party of Alberta led by premier Allison Redford. There is growing evidence that the people of the province which gave birth to the Harper government are now alarmed at the direction it is taking and have chosen a ‘Red’ Tory as their provincial premier. Wildrose, backed by the propaganda machine of Go Newclear and Abingdon, and supported by the increasingly strident petro-tyranny in Ottawa, now wants to form the government of Alberta.

  59. Pingback: Fraser vs Pembina, part 1: Introduction and Background | Deep Climate

  60. Pingback: #Harper vs #Canada: a short compilation #cdnpoli via ‏@Anon_GovWatchCA (archives) | Dump Harper!

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