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LETTER: CAPP ran a slick election campaign

['Statoil will use the West Aquarius deepwater drilling rig for exploration activities offshore Newfoundland. —\u2002Submitted by CNW Group/Statoil Canada Ltd.']
The West Aquarius deepwater drilling rig. — Statoil Canada photo

The Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election is over and voters have come of age, politically speaking, and registered their frustration with politics as usual and elected a minority government.

Along with two independent candidates, this election was contested by four registered political parties, each of which presented comprehensive election platforms to voters.

Remember the good old days when only political parties would craft and release their election platforms? We seem to have reached a new era in Canada where the oilpatch association (also known as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, CAPP), crafts and releases its own slick election campaign platform.

In its most recent election, Albertans were presented with “A vote for energy is a vote for a prosperous Alberta: CAPP Alberta Energy Platform.”

CAPP telling us it is non-partisan has about as much weight as Danny Williams telling us that Muskrat Falls is our heritage fund!

On May 1st, N.L. voters were on the receiving end of the offshore rendition of CAPP’s oil patch nirvana: “Oil and Natural Gas Priorities for a Prosperous Newfoundland and Labrador.”

It’s bad enough that a self-serving and single-minded powerful lobby group wants to produce a propaganda document promising to “make N.L. great again,” but to try to tell us the document was produced in a manner that is “non-partisan and not advertising” is galling.

CAPP telling us it is non-partisan has about as much weight as Danny Williams telling us that Muskrat Falls is our heritage fund!

To achieve maximum propaganda coverage, CAPP’s local spokesman, Paul Barnes, wrote a “non-partisan” guest column in the May 4th edition of The Telegram (“Growing NL’s offshore sector should be a priority for candidates”). After giving a glowing account of the N.L. oilpatch, Barnes calls on all parties to be its champions, urges us to question candidates on support for the sector and ends with a slick, subliminal call to vote only for candidates who do.

During the election, there were numerous disenfranchised and marginalized groups who needed to advocate and lobby the parties (seniors, low income, women, etc.), but CAPP isn’t one of them. Lots of questions needed to be asked of the candidates (climate change, transition jobs, pay equity, rate mitigation, etc.). However, I doubt if support for the oilpatch would be the top-of-mind question for the vast majority of voters.

Producing election platforms and writing guest columns would lead you to think CAPP is a group on the outside looking in. Don’t be fooled. CAPP is the most powerful and influential lobby group in Canada. It is well-entrenched in our provincial and federal political systems.

How powerful is it, you ask? In 2018, it convinced Justin Trudeau to purchase a decades-old pipeline for $4.5 billion of our tax dollars, with many more billions to follow.

Kenneth J. Kavanagh

Bell Island

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