23 August 2014

Who would you believe—Stephen Harper or Willie Nelson?

Apparently the $24-million of our tax money the federal government spent on an ad campaign to promote Canadian oil and the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington has gone down the drain. According to experts on Canada-U.S. relations, the campaign was a bust. "Buy our oil because we’re nice people—that doesn't fly," said David Biette, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre in Washington.

But the feds had better keep their ad blitz going because Willie Nelson is coming to town. Well, to a farm near Neligh, Nebraska, actually. He will join our very own Neil Young for an anti-Keystone concert in a local cornfield. Yes, cornfield. The field is in the path of the pipeline—a group of farmers, ranchers and Native Americans, along with artist John Quigley, carved an anti-pipeline message into it earlier this year. The concert is September 27th.

And why, one might ask, should anyone believe what a couple of singer/songwriter/guitar players have to say about pipelines? Well, one might ask the same question about the Harper government. Nelson and Young are, in fact, both long-time environmentalists, but that's not the point. We are talking about promotion here. What will best reach Americans' hearts and minds? Ads by the Canadian government or the warmth and charm of a country music icon? I'm betting on Willie.

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