by Adam Sealey
What caught my attention a couple of months ago were these yellow & blue ‘Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer’ self-standing cardboard promo units on display in cafes, bike shops and other retailers around BC.
I asked myself what is a pipeline company doing with bicycles and cancer research? Bikes don’t burn oil and pipelines carry cancer-causing products. There was no specific event date only 2012. So what gives?
Then months later came the gushing TV ads depicting happy and healthy people with bikes. Join the joyride … what! its next June. I asked myself “why are they advertising this event eight months ahead on TV?”
My research found an independent media website thecanadian.org with the article “Oil, Cancer and Bicycles: The Unholy Alliance of the BC Cancer Foundation and Enbridge”. Here is part of what the article said:
“Unless you never open a newspaper, turn on the TV, listen to the radio, or surf the web, you have likely recently come across glossy ads for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.
Here’s how the event’s organizers describe it on their website: ‘The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer® is a unique, two-day cycling event to take place on June 16-17, 2012. During this bold cycling journey, you will ride for two days through the scenic Pacific Northwest! Our vision is clear – A World Free From Cancer.’
Having long had the impression that oil – during its life cycle, from extraction through refining, transport, inevitable spillage and ultimate burning – can cause cancer I naturally felt it hypocritical that a cancer-fighting organization would accept money and sponsorship from a Big Oil company.
You see, the proceeds from the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer flow to the BC Cancer Foundation, not the Society. A little more research taught me that the BC Cancer Foundation is the fundraising arm of the BC Cancer Agency, which is a BC government department – under the Provincial Health Services Authority.
So the proceeds of the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer go, ultimately, to the BC government!
I then contacted Dr. Karen Bartlett of the UBC School of Environmental Health, posing to her the same question: To what extent can petroleum products be considered carcinogenic? Here’s what she told me by phone: ‘There are two major petroleum products that we know are associated with carcinogenicity. One is in the distillation process of petroleum products, which produces Benzene. Benzene is carcinogenic. The other is in the combustion of diesel. Diesel particulate is carcinogenic.’
What I question is whether it is ethical for an organization battling cancer to accept a large donation from a company whose products cause cancer, which they do.”
The Canadian article points to collusion between governments and their corporate friends. Is Enbridge doing a PR job to try and convince the public that they care about our health? Or, are they taking advantage of well-intended people who truly wish to conquer cancer, while getting a bunch of people feeling good about Enbridge, and by association their proposed pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sand to the West Coast.
Or was this advertising campaign meant to influence public opinion in the run up to January’s Joint Review Panel Community Hearings on the Enbridge Project?
When you follow the money, timing, and connect the dots, it gets clearer.
Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker focused on environment and social justice – especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada’s wild salmon. Follow his work at www.thecanadian.org
Here are several other dots to connect: