Published on Oct 18, 2015
Canadians will head to the polls on October 19, and the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is fighting for a third term in office.
Amidst the political media blitz, there has been a longer running, carefully strategised media push from one of Canada’s biggest, most important industries: oil and gas.
The tar sands, or oil sands as the industry calls them, in the western province of Alberta, are the third-largest proven reserves of oil in the world.
Since their potential was first explored 50 years ago, there have been many stories in the Canadian media highlighting tar sands’ environmental impact, greenhouse gas emissions, and safety concerns.
But in the last decade or so, oil companies have attempted to counter the negative PR, pouring money into media outlets through advertising and sponsored content.
And they have been supported in their media campaign by the Harper government that has pursued a pro-oil agenda.
There was a time when the Canadian media were able to resist the influence of big oil money and still do their journalism.
Today, with many media organisations in serious financial trouble, they are more dependent on the revenue stream from the petroleum industry.
That leaves Canadians wondering how much of the real story gets reported, and what does not.
The Listening Post’s Flo Phillips reports from Alberta, on the Canadian oil industry’s impact on the country’s media.