The cliché is that a picture is worth a thousand words. You can paint a picture with fewer. You can bring pictures to mind as easily. You can evoke emotion, encourage prejudice, denigrate a people, challenge an opponent, demonstrate love, bring forth a memory and start a war with simple words. Words are the arrows in the speechwriter’s quiver. They are there for both the rich and the poor. They are used by both the political right and the left. They are yours to use.
Why then are the political pundits so surprised at Prime Minister Harper and his Cabinet cohorts using words to denigrate those who challenge the Gateway Pipeline through pristine British Columbia? To denounce the so-called ‘foreign radicals’ who dare to involve themselves among the thousands challenging the pipeline is hardly worth a notice. For the news media to be suckered into using the words in their headlines and television leads is the disgrace.
The first realization of the young public relations person is that all your illusions of the gruff but kindly editor and the inquiring reporter are wrong. They are just people trying to do their job. It is your job is to make it easy for them to advance your client’s side of the issue. You have to remember that it is not the prose but the power phrases. It is not site for the shot but the backdrop. And emotion trumps logic.
The lie in Stephen Harper attacking the foreign-radical environmentalists challenging the Gateway Pipeline scheme is that there is far more foreign money on the side of the pipeline than there is supporting the environmentalists and B.C. native tribes. It is easy though for one to share the concern of the natives who are absolutely appalled at the vision of a spill along the beautiful inlets and shores of Northern British Columbia. Mr. Harper is only looking at the money the pipeline will earn.
And we should remember what the international oil companies want to ship through that pipeline. It is heavy crude oil from the Athabasca tarsands. They want to pump up to 500,000 barrels per day of this gunk through a twinned pipeline across and through the Rocky Mountains. It will be through forests and over streams and rivers to Kitimat which is up a long inlet from the coast and the Pacific Ocean. They want to bring huge ocean-going tankers up that inlet to unload light weight petroleum which will be pumped up the smaller diameter pipe to Alberta where it can be mixed with tarsands oil to enable the heavy oil to be shipped to Kitimat through the larger pipe. The ships, will then load with the heavy mixture and then wend their way out the channels to the Pacific and head for China and points east.
The one thing for sure is that the rhetoric has hardly had time to ramp. There will be highly paid writers plying their trade for both sides. There is enough money involved.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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