There's a great post at DeSmogBlog calling out a new, cynical tactic from the tar sands industry's PR campaign -- accusing environmentalists of shilling for the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia. The new offensive is as sleazy as it is slick. Check it out:
The video is produced by EthicalOil, a website run by Alykhan Velshi, a 27-year-old former spokesman for Canada's Conservative government. In a Guardian profile, Velshi declined to explain his website's funding: "I won't take money from any foreign corporations, any governments." He added, though, that, if offered, he wouldn't refuse Canadian corporate donations.
DeepClimate, a Canadian blog, dug deeper into Velshi's background, and found -- surprise, surprise -- close links to the tar sands industry.
What's notable is that Ethical Oil seems to have studied closely the campaigning tactics of environmentalists, and it has proved a fast learner. Tactics include Yes Men-style impersonations such as creating a fake group, Americans for OPEC. Another is creating a corporate boycott campaign against the cosmetics firm Lush, which is helping publicize the anti-tar sands effort with snazzy videos of its own.
An interesting sidenote: Wikipedia's entry for Velshi says he is Ismaili, which is a branch of Shiite Islam. For perfectly legitimate reasons, the Shia generally do not have a high view of Sunni-run Saudi Arabia, which follows a path of sectarian opposition to Shia at home and abroad ... and which just so happens to be Velshi's main target in his new video. A nice two-fer.