Does Enbridge ride to conquer cancer or public opinion?

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 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

Here are several other dots to connect:

6 thoughts on “Does Enbridge ride to conquer cancer or public opinion?”

  1. I think that The Ride To Conquer Cancer is a great event but I won't participate while Enbridge is a sponsor.

    • Don, this is exactly how I feel. Remove them as a contributor and I’ll sign up, the same day.
      Perhaps we just need to create a new event.

  2. 1. Enbridge is just the corporate 'title' sponsor, it's not THEIR ride, but if you can find another private company willing to step up and sponsor for the same $$ please have at it. They just pay to have their name in the title. It takes a lot of corporate sponsorship to put on such a huge event. The ads are produced by the ride and have nothing to do with Enbridge.
    2. You make it sound like the money raised goes into government general revenue. Of course it doesn't, and all the financial statements and tax returns are available on line to show you the money trail, as with all registered charities. 
    Each rider participating raises THOUSANDS of dollars each, including myself, & I find your  'blog' post insulting. BC cancer foundation is the BC cancer society fund raising arm, not a branch of the government. 

  3. No conspiracy, just following the paper trail, showing how deep the roots go in the relationship between Big Oil and our government. That's worth knowing.


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