The propaganda of Kyoto

By Stephane Massinon

In my grade ten social studies class, we watched Allied propaganda from the Second World War. As the guerrilla-like Nazis rampaged through big Western cities, the entire class laughed, and appropriately so. The outrageousness of this image was viewed for what it was, and the government’s attempt to scare young men into enlisting was obvious.

Nowadays, the face of government propaganda has changed drastically, but the effect is still there. For the last month, the Alberta provincial government has embarked on an “advertising campaign” (through TV, radio, print and publication), that is supposed to inform us about the economic dangers of Kyoto. Now, it might not be as obvious as it once was (after all, it doesn’t portray a stereotypical environmentalist rampaging through the province), but when you stop and think about it, this is today’s propaganda.

This province’s economy is largely dependent on the use of the non-renewable resources that pollute the environment. And, to be fair, the six per cent below the 1990 emission level cut required with the ratification of Kyoto will undeniably put a temporary strain in the economy, but not to the level that Ralph Klein is predicting. Study after study has continuously shown that Klein is overestimating the economic harm of the proposed environmental policy.

The fact that Klein is misinformed about Kyoto and that his supposed “facts” are getting regular television airplay is quite scary. Klein has always maintained popularity on the success of the province’s economy and he has managed to stay in power for so long by maintaining the status quo. Any threat to the economy, like Kyoto, is immediately seen as dangerous and rejected outright.

The rest of the country has made it known that it wants to see Kyoto ratified, and as a result of that, we get the propaganda.

In a Globe and Mail article Oct. 8, a new poll showed declining support for the Kyoto Accord in Alberta. In a startling drop of 27 per cent, Albertans began to change their mind about Kyoto. Not surprisingly, the poll was conducted just as the advertising campaign began. Some people might say that the two changes are unconnected, but that view is naïve at best.

The rise of the anti-Kyoto view has certainly not been coupled with arguments from the opposing side. Instead, a largely uninformed Alberta public is getting one side of the story and starting to align themselves with it. So, not only is this propaganda campaign influencing Albertans towards Klein’s point of view, but also its $1.5 million dollar price tag is coming out of the taxpayer’s pocket. In my books, that amounts to being lied to and paying for it.