Angry about BP’s Gulf spill? Blame Canada!

Alberta

If you're mad as hell about BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill, one environmental group has a suggestion: Boycott Alberta, Canada. Billboards decrying "Alberta: The Other Oil Disaster" have gone up in Denver, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Minneapolis, and may soon reach other countries. Led by Corporate Ethics International, the effort is meant to raise awareness of toxic ponds generated through the processing of the "oil sands" in northern Canada. Reuters reports that one such pond killed 1,600 ducks in 2008, for which a mining company now faces fines of up to $800,000 Canadian. The new billboards steer viewers to the video below, which is informative but not really clear on why a tourism boycott is in order. In fact, a bustling tourism industry can sometimes be a major driver for environmental improvements and regulation. Couldn't stealing Alberta's tourism dollars just make the province all the more reliant on the oil industry? Either way, it's hard to get past the fact that this campaign crudely exploits the concern over one disaster to draw attention to another—a strategy that's never a good idea.