Kinsman: Is the Ethical Oil campaign helping or hurting Canada’s international reputation?

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September 26, 2011
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Hurting, for sure. The campaign is offensive. And it’s stupid. The oil sands industry will do better by advertising its determination to mitigate carbon impacts. But it’s not the only contribution to our growing reputation for being responsibility-deniers. Beyond climate change, there is the disgusting government support for exports to poor countries of asbestos products outlawed in Canada. We righteously denounce corruption abroad but Transparency International points out Canadian authorities hardly enforce the OECD anti-bribery convention on Canadian companies. As Olympic hosts we brayed about “owning the podium.” Internationally, the only gold medal we’re winning is the one at the WTO for most whining about perceived unfairness to us. Global citizenship has its responsibilities and its pay-offs. Selfishness has its costs.