Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Corbella Story Collapses Utterly

 In a story a week or so back,  Licia Corbella intimated that someone in the environmentalist camp was signing fake names to the list of people asking to make oral presentations to the NEB panel holding hearings into the Northern Gateway Pipeline.  Never mind that this doesn't make sense as part of a "mob the mic'" strategy; presumably the panel doesn't waste time on no-shows.  In any case, I was able to contact one of the mystery signers a day or so later, and discovered that Elano Ferraz of Brazil had indeed asked to speak and was still hopeful he might get to Canada for the hearings.   Today I find that the Globe has contacted the other "foreigner" mentioned in the Corbella story:

A further 400 people signed up through websites crafted by Dogwood for organizations like the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, which succeeded in stoking international interest. It sent out an e-mail that reached some six million people.

One was Ines Gudic, a bank worker in Santos, Brazil. She owns 10 cats, three dogs and spends her free time collecting donations to bring in injured strays for veterinary care. Her love of animals led her to watch a DVD about the spirit bear – or the kermode bear, a white subspecies of the black bear whose habitat lies near where Northern Gateway-fed tankers would sail. Apprised of pipeline plans, and concerned a spill could hurt these unique bears, she signed up.

She was “totally unaware” she was registered to make an oral statement, she said, speaking through an interpreter. But she did fill out the form herself – as did another Brazilian named Elano Ferraz, who wrote in an email: “I did sign up to speak at the environmental hearing for the Northern Gateway pipeline.”

They contradicted reporting by a Calgary newspaper, which called it a “mystery” that the two Brazilians “were signed up without their knowledge.” That allegation sparked fury from pro-pipeline groups and industry leaders. Enbridge chief executive Pat Daniel last week accused non-Canadians of attempting to “delay” and “confuse” the project, pointing to “the number of people who are serving as intervenors that have never heard of the project.”

Yet each of the people with foreign addresses contacted by The Globe and Mail said they had registered themselves. The process was not, however, entirely clear. The Spirit Bear group’s e-mail, for example, asked people to “give the Spirit Bear a voice.” It didn’t mention it was asking people to speak before the National Energy Board.

Just to clarify, the Ferraz email mentioned in this story appeared first on BCLSB (see link above), so thanks to the Globe for giving credit where it is due...NOT!  Secondly, having contacted the Spirit Bear people myself -while their email reached millions, they are just a small organization and don't really have the means to geo-target and translate their message into the home language of all the recipients.  So while Ms. Gudic and Mr. Ferraz have have been slightly confused, there was certainly no attempt to deceive on the part of the coalition.


Holly Stick said...

Ah well, nice work there, BCL.

crf said...

Good for the Globe and Mail. The media should more often criticize each others stories.

And Enbridge's board of directors ought to tell their chief to think twice before mouthing off an opinion backed up by questionable editorials. For one, defending libel is old hat for newspapers, but not for most other companies. For another, it isn't good public relations for your company come across as a whining loser complaining about fairly trivial details: like having the public speak at public hearings.