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The Progressive

TransCanada Gets Pranked as Activsts Try to 'Save Canada' for Real

Activists across Canada are dressing up like corporate reps in order to disrupt the latest TransCanada pipeline.

TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, is also building the Energy East pipeline, which would bring Tar Sands oil to the East Coast for export. The company is hosting open houses in cities and towns along the route.

Previously during town halls, community members were able to express their concerns in front of everyone. This time, however, TransCanada changed the format of the meetings and have made them into one-on-one conversations with company representatives. So the activists changed their plans, too.

Local activists are now dressing up like TransCanada reps, with lookalike “SaveCanada” name tags and brochures. And instead of promoting the pipeline, the SaveCanada reps talk about the risks.

It’s classic Yes Men corporate pranking.

“Since TransCanada has come up with a new way to lie to the public, we had to come up with a new way to tell the truth,” North Bay farmer Yan Roberts, who helped to launch the unusual protest, said in a Yes Lab press release. “We’re friendly folks, so our solution is to dress like them, outnumber them, and ‘out friendly’ them in every community they’re trying to scam.”

In Montreal, activists “reps” outnumbered the real ones. The pranksters invited attendees to play “pin the bitumen spill on the pipeline” with sticky-notes on the company’s large route map. A segment on the Global TV network even identified an activist as a TransCanada rep.

A few years ago I interviewed the Yes Men and asked them about why the media are so gullible.

The media “are bombarded with falsehoods all the time. Millions of dollars in PR are being spent on making them gullible. The majority of communications they receive are hoaxes, perpetrated either by corporations or government, through PR agencies and PR flacks. We’re adding to that mess, but the big difference is that their hoaxes are never revealed,” they said.

SaveCanada activists plan on swarming future town halls in the upcoming weeks.

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Elizabeth DiNovella

Elizabeth DiNovella is Culture Editor of The Progressive. She writes about activism, politics, music, books, and film. She also produces Progressive Radio, a thirty-minute public affairs program hosted by Matthew Rothschild.

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