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Canadian Lobby Busting Tour in Europe Challenges Government Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy

Paris/Ottawa – Today kicks off a week-long tour of European capitals, led by a First Nation Chief and members of leading Canadian civil society organizations. The tour will urge European decision makers to stand up to Canadian government and industry lobbying against policies that will help Europe continue to be a leader in the fight against global climate change.

The tour is in Paris today, and will continue to The Hague, London and finish in Berlin on Monday, March 26th. The tour is in response to aggressive attempts by the Canadian and Albertan governments’ together with industry to undermine or kill the European Union’s efforts to reduce their transportation pollution through the Fuel Quality Directive. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver reinforced Canada’s position that the Directive is discriminatory and non-science based in a meeting with a number of EU ministers at the International Energy Forum in Kuwait just last week.

“We have always looked up to Europe for leadership on critical issues like aboriginal rights and climate change,” says Hannah McKinnon, Campaigns Director with Climate Action Network Canada. “Where Canada used to be an ally in the fight against climate change, our current government has turned us into a pariah, and we are here to deliver a different perspective to European decision makers.”

The meetings will ensure that the voices of civil society and First Nations are heard. Clear information will be presented regarding the First Nations and human rights implications of the reckless expansion of the tar sands and the federal government’s failure to regulate Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution. The delegation will challenge key misconceptions brought forward in the Canadian lobbying effort including claims that the Directive discriminates against Canada, is not based on sound science and is a threat to trade.  

“As Indigenous Peoples we are pleased that Europe is taking a mature approach via the Fuel Quality Directive at what’s required in order to have a sustainable global economy related to fossil fuels. Canada is very myopic in its approach and politics related to its fossil fuel agenda, which is directly opposed to Indigenous Peoples solutions,” says Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus.

“We hope European leaders will ignore Canada’s hollow threats to take the Fuel Quality Directive to the WTO. The policy does not discriminate against Canadian oil but treats all unconventional tar sands-derived fuel the same, no matter where it’s pulled out of the ground,” adds Stuart Trew, Trade Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “If by some fluke the WTO ruled against the EU climate policy, it looks worse on Canada and the global trade regime than it does on Europe, which should be praised for trying to do something to reduce carbon emissions.”

Tour participants will meet with government officials and media throughout the week. Today’s schedule in Paris includes a meeting with Foreign Affairs and the  Councillor to the President of the Senate. A kit of information will be provided that includes a document challenging Canadian lobbying misconceptions, an open letter opposing these efforts and supporting the Directive signed by organizations representing millions of Canadians and a letter of support from Canada’s official opposition party, the New Democratic Party, and the Leader of the Green Party of Canada.

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Tour participants include Bill Erasmus, National Dene Chief and the Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief of the Northwest Territories; Stuart Trew, Trade Campaigner with the Council of Canadians; and Hannah McKinnon, Campaigns Director with Climate Action Network Canada.  Ben Powless of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Steven Guilbeault, Coordonnateur général adjoint, Équiterre will be joining the events in Paris.