Let’s laugh Harper’s tar sands ads off the air

Feature story - June 6, 2013
Greenpeace Canada launched a satirical ad campaign today aimed at debunking the Harper government’s own advertising campaign to “greenwash” the tar sands.

The 30-second ad stars comedic actor Peter Keleghan, known for his work on “18 to Life” and “The Red Green Show,” as Environment Minister Peter Kent. In the ad he says “being the kind of environment minister who makes big oil companies clean up their mess isn’t easy – but buying ads is!”

The federal government’s “Responsible Resource Development” ads depict the tar sands as environmentally friendly and have been running since 2012. Recently, Ottawa announced it will spend another $16 million this year to keep the ads running on television.

We’re promoting the Greenpeace ad on social media before it airs the week of July 8th on CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and are appealing to viewers to sign a petition aimed at Prime Minister Harper as well as to contribute a donation to run the ad more widely.

“This project gave me an opportunity to help Greenpeace make an important statement on how the federal government is spending our money to promote the oil industry,” said Keleghan. “It richly deserves being lampooned.”

Along with the television spot, we also made two longer skits featuring Sheila McCarthy as Harper’s sly assistant and Richard Blackburn as the prime minister. All three videos were directed by Michael Kennedy, who has successfully used comedy to address social issues in his films and television work, which includes the hit sitcom “Little Mosque on the Prairie.”

Kennedy said he jumped at the chance to direct the video project, entitled “Tar Sands Greenwash.”

 “Serious issues deserve serious attention, but sometimes humour works best when you’re trying to reach people,” said Kennedy. “That’s what we’re doing with the Greenwash videos – trying to open some eyes while poking fun at what the Harper government is doing concerning its tar sands policy.”

Keleghan, who has also shown his comedic talents in episodes of Seinfeld, Cheers and Murphy Brown as well as in starring roles in The Newsroom and Billable Hours, previously played Kent in Greenpeace’s successful “Polluter Harmony” video two years ago.

Greenpeace hopes that the Tar Sands Greenwash videos and petition can help Canadians focus their frustration over the Harper ads in a positive way.

“There is no throne so high that it can’t be shaken by laughter from beneath,” said Greenpeace Climate and Energy Coordinator Keith Stewart. “Since we’re not able to match Ottawa’s advertising budget, we plan to get so many people laughing at the ads that the government has to pull them off the air.”

Tell Harper we want green energy, not greenwash: visit www.stopgreenwash.ca