Hey look: the vast left-wing conspiracy covers the vast right-wing conspiracy


We’re brimming over with fresh bitumen this week at Maclean’s, where I’ve got a story connecting the Harper government with the Ethical Oil movement, and Colleague Nancy Macdonald has another one, perhaps more significant over the medium term, pointing out that one reason why the government is so eager to pick fights with shady foreign billionaires and oil sheikhs is that that’s easier than defeating northern British Columbia aboriginal communities.

A few people are demanding that I give due credit to some blogs that have already pointed out the connections between, especially, Conservative strategist and website host Hamish Marshall and the PMO. I’m happy to acknowledge that there’s been a lot of coverage of those connections, from Emma Pullman, Vancouver Observer, Deep Climate, The Tyee and probably others. I had a bad few minutes on Monday when I saw that Huffington Post even had a chart, because we’d just put my story to bed with its own chart. I daresay our chart is funnier. But none of my reporting comes from these sources; I got at the Marshall-Marshall-Velshi-Levant daisy chain by asking Conservatives who knew Conservatives.



Hey look: the vast left-wing conspiracy covers the vast right-wing conspiracy

  1. I wish the left and the right would cancel each other out, and maybe then everyone else could decide things on a rational basis….without all the spin and sales pitches and hoopla.

    • If only those damn Ukrainians would meet their farm quotas.

    • But OE1, the only rationality is that, “All is politics”, and thus the hoopla and spin.  Surely you already knew this? 

      • Remove the politics.  Go with ‘evidence-based’ instead.

        • Cool.  The latest evidence is that women and men are basically different species; the implication being that feminist/leftist/SOW orthodoxy demanding cherry-picked identical outcomes for women, such as identical #s of female MPs in the house, is bunk and not supported by evidence. 

          Share how this makes you feel Emster?


          • Men and women are exactly the same species.

            This is a poll of people who are simply parroting back what they’ve been taught culturally….not remotely scientific.

        • But there are various kinds of evidence.  As per Donald Rumsfeld. Sometimes gut feelings are more reliable than cold rationality. 

          • ‘Gut feelings’ aren’t evidence….they are just the monkey-mind reaction to things.

            And Rumsfeld is a leading example of monkey-mind

          • His unknowns outnumbered his knowns by a huge margin. 

          • @JanBC:disqus 

            It’s known his mind is a vast unknown.  LOL

  2. I’m not demanding anything. But I still think you missed a big part of the story, namely the overlap of the Conservative Resource Group and Go Newclear. That’s still not out in the mainstream press as far as I know.

    • I normally discourage posting links on the comments, but do go ahead and post yours. I really think these connections are casual — a product of a bunch of people who think alike, working in the thousands of niches that open up around a successful government, toward things they agree on — but it’s certainly fair to point out the connections.

      • Seems that two days between a set of ideas appearing on the EO website and then in an Oliver speech AND a speech by the PM is a bit quick for these connections to be merely casual.  If “Oilsands Pride” (Ezra’s latest) makes it into the PM’s vocabulary by, say, Tuesday, will you reconsider?

        • “Oilsands Pride”… They’re Lion.


          “Oilsands Flock” …All landing. No take-off.

          “Oilsands Herd” … But largely ignored.

          • “oilsands parliament”? “oilsands murder”? “oilsands unkindness”?

            too obvious?


  3. Maybe you think this is nitpicking, but… 

    In your chart, by using a tilting/laughing Ezra head, with normal heads for everyone else, you’re showing the liberal/left bias at this magazine.  Sure, it might be fun to make fun of Ezra, but if you want to do that, you should probably find a funny pic of Mansbridge too.

  4. It’s dirty pool to picture Mansbridge on the chart–he was on a prize committee that gave Levant’s book an award. That’s no conspiratorial link. How do you know he wasn’t the lone holdout against Ezra?

    • Dan Gardner pointed out that Pamela Wallin was on the same prize committee.

  5. “Casual connections”? Really?

    Here we have a Go Newclear principal, Travis Freeman, who is also currently employed as a *developer* at the Conservative Resource Group (aka the Conservative Research Bureau). That is  a Conservative political staff job at the House of Commons (he’s in GEDS and everything). How can that possibly be justified as a “casual connection”?

    I have verified that Freeman has been a director of Go Newclear since its federal incorporation in 2009. And he has also been in the CRG since at least some time in 2011, certainly before the launch of the “Our Decision” campaign, and possibly much earlier than that.

    This raises the possibility that a Conservative employee may have developed the Ethical Oil websites alongside those for ministers Joe Oliver and Jason Kenney. Certainly there is a strong evidence that all of these were done by the same developer.

    I would say you might have some more questions for your sources; they clearly left some things out.

    And meanwhile additional connections with Sun TV are also emerging (see Emma Pullman at Desmogblog).

    [I’ve left out the link to the Deep Climate post in the hope that the comment will go through, maybe you can add it.]

    • I now think Travis Freeman probably started his current stint with the Conservatives in November 2011, which is around the time the “foreign special interests” attacks on ENGOs started ramping up. But an interesting question would be: Did Freeman, like fellow directors Hamish Marshall and Brendan Jones, work for the Conservatives before the trio formed Go Newclear in 2009?

    • Thanks, Alison. For some reason my original comment took several tries, so finally I just took out my link (and anything else that looked like a link) in desperation.

  6. Perhaps the VLWC could put a tracer out on Bruce Carson … where the
    money came from and where did it go …

  7. While we condemn the evils of Alberta’s oil production, let
    us stop and ponder Paul Well’s last bottle of wine he purchased for his last
    dinner party.

    The raw materials for the glass bottle were mined using
    carbon based fuel (for our purposes let’s call it “evil fuel”).  Those materials were then transported to the
    bottle making facility using evil fuel. 
    The materials were then heated in massive evil fuel using furnaces to shape
    the glass into a bottle.  The bottle was
    then transported to the winery (using evil fuel using trucks).  While the now, inherently evil, bottle for
    the wine sits waiting to be filled, a farmer has planted a grape seed, tilling
    the land with a tractor using evil fuel. 
    After much evil fuel using farming techniques, evil fuel is used to
    harvest the grapes, whereafter evil fuel using trucks transport the now,
    inherently evil, grapes to the wine making facilities.  After the employees of the vineyard expend
    much evil fuel going back and forth to the vineyard, making the wine all the
    while consuming yet more evil fuel in the process, the wine is shipped to the
    wine store in trucks using…you guessed it….evil fuel.

    Now repeat that process for every non-essential item in Paul
    Wells’ condo, from the brie to the matching table lamps and ponder the amount
    of evil fuel that goes into the totality of the comfortable life that he and
    his cohorts consume to maintain that life.

    Consider also that we know with certainty that if Mr. Wells
    gave up that bottle of wine, or those imported banannas or the Chilean grapes,
    or that fancy Mont Blanc pen set, there would be a corresponding reduction in
    the use of evil fuels for each.

    But he, like the rest of the leisured class don’t.  Oh sure, they’ll buy a “smart car” telling
    the world how they’ve saved the planet with their miniscule difference in fuel
    usage at the very tail end of the supply chain (for fun repeat the above
    process using just the front quarter panel of the smart car as the end product). 

    No, rather than materially altering his lifestyle Mr. Wells
    and the others  in the “green movement” continue
    to effectively demand all the evil fuel  necessary to uphold their lifestyles – refraining
    from incurring any material pain in the process.  Who must incur the material pain?  Why those who dirty their hands eking out a
    living in the Alberta oil fields who dare work to produce the product that the
    leisured class demands to uphold their lifestyle.  They must be put out of business (or severely

    Worse yet, we know with mathematical certainty, due to the
    fact that oil is a worldwide commodity, that while those in the oilsands will
    suffer great economic hardship (and many other related to it), the evil fuel
    necessary to support the leisured class’ lifestyle will continue to flow from
    other countries. 

    In short the oil sands workers will suffer for the sole
    reason that the leisured class demands it. 
    It is the oil worker of Canada who must pay penance for the sins of the
    leisured class. 

    Now, let us sit back, enjoy that nice bottle of Sauvignon
    Blanc, and write about how the oilsands must be stopped.

    • Oh, look! Everything is made of The Earth. Maybe we better stop and think and treat her better.

      • Isn’t brevity beautiful.

    • Ah – dusting off the old Al Gore attack material are we? 

      • I’m not sure what you mean by “dusting off” nor the description of it as an attack.  The more pertinent question should be:  is any of what is described true?  As far as I can see, not only is there nothing misleading, every single statement is factually correct.  Every one.

        Indeed the point of going through that excercise in such detail is to expose the extent to which our modern society is dependent on fossil fuel.   We all demand it.  All of us.  From the moment we wake up in the morning every action we take consumes fossil fuels.  From putting on our pants to brushing our teeth.  The extraction of the raw materials, the shipping, production, the distribution all relies on fossil fuels, without which we would have none of it.

        But exposing these very basic and stark truths rightfully causes those in the green movement much discomfort, because it turns the moral superiorty (the life blood of the green movement) on its head and exposes the depravity of demanding very real economic suffering of others, while gladly enjoying the benefits of that which they so proudly condemn.

  8. The evidence is $100+ per barrel and ten years of US/Canadian/UK/Iragi/Afganastian war and now possibly further conflict with Iran.  Every barrel Canada produces reduces the massive subsidy the West has to make in order to maintain stability in the Middle East.  The US has spent over $600 billion on the Iraq and Afgan wars over the past ten years!  The subsidy comes down to about $50 per barrel + the thousands of good US and Canadian youth who died!

    One can justify and advocate Canadian Oil simply based on economics and morals – forget the environmental arguements!  Canadians need to wake up and realize the wonderful opportunity we have to make a positive difference in the world by offering a clear alternative to conflict oil!  Americans need to wake up and realize that they get the best bang for their buck by buying Canadian Oil given the massive trade they have with us!

    • you’re argument also justifies Nuclear, wind, Hydro, solar, biofuels….

      • Nuclear, and Hydro yes, not the others.  Nuclear still has many worried, rightly or wrongly.  Hydro powers many homes already and the more the better in my opinion.  But solar and other “alternative” sources of energy are not economical.  

        The worldwide demand for oil will continue for some time, and it is pure fantasy to think that shutting down our oilsands will do anything for the environment.  The demand will continue, the oil will be shipped around the world by sea in ships that can sink and in the end be burned up all the same.

        What is repugnant is how those in the green movement completely shut their eyes to the economic suffering they’re asking their fellow canadians to endure, while they themselves enjoy the benefits of our modern economy which is all dependent (all of it, from the footings in their basement to the shingles on the roof and everything in between) on fossil fuels. 

        Massive economic suffering for thee, but keep the oil flowing for me.

  9. Thanks for not only hearing, but also responding to the call to recognize those researchers who helped you to write your story.  I think it’s very important work and work that needs to be recognized.  Cheers!

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