The Canadian Energy Center, funded by the province of Alberta, launches a campaign targeting Netflix because it claims that the movie “Bigfoot Family” shows propaganda against gas and oil.
The latest battle for the Canadian Energy Center (CEC) is not against a critical academic report or a new environmental initiative, but against “Bigfoot Family”, a children’s film. The institution, in charge of promoting the image of the energy industry and funded by the Government of Alberta (west), considers that this animation film represents “brainwashing for children through propaganda against gas and oil.”
“Bigfoot Family”, a sequel to “The Son of Bigfoot”, is a French-Belgian film released in August 2020 in various theaters in Europe. It reached American homes at the end of January through the Netflix platform and a month later in Canada, with great success in both countries.
In this movie, the family of the mythical beast of the forests seeks to protect a nature reserve in Alaska from the plans of an oil company. The CEC launched a campaign targeting Netflix Canada because it believes the film “is spreading misinformation about the oil and gas industry.”
Confronting the energy sector
In its online petition, the agency notes that “Bigfoot Family” sells lies about the energy sector. It also states: “Canada’s world-class oil and gas industry is one of the best in the world when it comes to environmental, social and governance standards. It spends billions of dollars every year to protect the environment.”
So far, just over 2,500 people support this petition launched last week. CEC noted on its Facebook page that the initiative arose from complaints from a parent. “The film demonizes the workers of the sector,” added the agency.
Shannon Phillips, provincial MP for the New Democratic Party, said this initiative reflects the problems of the conservative government of Jason Kenney. “They do not have an employment program and their leader is deeply unpopular, so they turn to these issues,” she said, lamenting that taxpayer money serves to fuel these issues.
For their part, some communication experts expressed in Canadian media that this campaign will surely have the opposite result: accentuate negative stereotypes towards the hydrocarbon industry. On Sunday, another petition began to circulate on the Internet: a group of Canadians ask Netflix to finance “Bigfoot Family 2”. They propose that the story take place in an area of Alberta where the provincial government authorized coal mining projects.
It is not the first time that the Canadian Energy Center – popularly known as “the war room” of this industry in the province – is immersed in controversy. With an annual budget of 30 million Canadian dollars (about 24 million US dollars), the CEC has had to face several complaints about its lack of financial transparency. Due to the pandemic, the budget for 2021 fell to 4.7 million. A few days after it was create an American firm reported that the center had plagiarized its logo and they had to replace it.
Immersed in controversy
In February 2020, an article in The New York Times explained that several financial giants had stopped investing in Alberta’s oil sands, one of the world’s most criticized sources of oil for its environmental impact. Tom Olsen, director of the CEC, wrote on Twitter in response that the New York newspaper has “a questionable track record,” that it is not a reliable source of information, and that the newspaper had “been accused of anti-Semitism countless times.” Olsen apologized shortly after.