Breaking: “Ethical Oil” Campaign Uses Stolen, Faked Photos

Written by Brant Olson

Topics: Oil

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Ethical Oil?

Ethical Oil?

Canadian Conservative acolyte Alykhan Velshi made headlines last month with a set of bombastic ads contrasting the virtues of Canada’s “ethical oil” with the evils of “conflict oil countries.” Leading political heavyweights — including Environment Minister Peter Kent — have also adopted the mantra. But a look behind the latest “ethical oil” campaign raises a number of ethical questions about Velshi himself.

First, he lied. The Globe and Mail reported (based on Velshi’s assertion, I suppose) that one of the most shocking photos in the set “is a woman being stoned in Iran in the late 1970s.” That’s not true. In fact, the woman shown is actress Smadar Monsinos, a resident of Amsterdam. The photo is a still from the short 1994 Dutch indy film “De Steen” by Mahnaz Tamizi. The blog Sadly No made this discovery in 2007 after the photo began appearing in posters promoting David Horowitz’s “Islamo-Faschism Awareness Week.”

Velshi also exploited. Adjacent to Ms. Monsinos is a photo of a beaming Melissa Blake, Mayor of Wood Buffalo, Alberta. Asked recently whether she was consulted about her portrayal in the ads, she replied “I was never even asked!!! I’m not at all pleased about it. I cringe when I see it.”

He also stole. At least three of the other photos in the set were taken by internationally recognized photographers and used without permission. The Nigeria photo was taken by Ed Kashi, an award-winning photojournalist. The Darfur photo was taken in 2004 by Lynsey Addario, one of the world’s leading photojournalists. A true hero, she was one of three journalists held captive for six days in Libya earlier this year. Agents for both photographers confirmed in a phone interview last week that they are considering taking legal action against the illegal use of the photographs. And while the the agent for Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist John Moore was unavailable, I’m betting his Saudi Arabia photo was also stolen.

The tar sands lobby is lying to us. I’m no ethicist, but representing fiction as fact, exploiting public figures, and stealing intellectual property seems pretty wrong to me. It’s wrong like setting up fake Twitter accounts is wrong. Like spreading misinformation on oil prices and mid-east oil imports is wrong. But that’s their game plan: label tar sands opponents as terrorists and strong-arm the President into locking the US and Canada into the dead-end energy strategy of boiling oil from sand.

Please join us this month as we demand action from President Obama to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

4 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Mark Francis says:

    Don’t forget that they conveniently ignore just how much greenhouse gases are emitted processing the Tar Sands into oil — the most of any oil producing source. Given that global warming is the greatest challenge and risk facing us this century, any oil production is unethical, expecially that which is the most greenhouse gas extensive.

    And let’s be real. The Tar Sands will never produce at a rate sufficient to eliminate using oil from non-democratic states. There even isn;t anough oil there to allow us to ignore other sources.

  2. Matt says:

    Not to mention that the ethical oil argument doesn’t make any sense. If we were to withdraw from Saudi Production, China would snatch that up in a second and human rights violations would continue along with the destruction of the northern boreal and everything else associated with the tar sands. Ezra Levant used this argument in his book to blast NGO’s about their demand that Tallisman energy withdraw from the Sudan but he didn’t see his own contradiction in his later argument.

  3. Jim Erkiletian says:

    The most unethical oil production on this planet is the one that is destroying the Athapascan River fishery and causing sickness in the native villages downstream. Fortunately there are simple carbon-neutral alternatives, wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and the biggest of all, conservation. The advanced countries are exploiting these new sources while the US and Canada sink into the game of using an obsolete technology powered by declining and expensive fuels.

  4. Peter Ruetters says:

    Why is Mr.Velshi not being charged with false advertising and theft?

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Top 5 reasons why tar sands cover-up “ethicaloil.org” is a seriously dirty trick | Platform
  2. Don’t Even Bother Watching This Ludicrous Pro-Tar Sands Propaganda Video » Rainforest Action Network Blog

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