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Depiction of proposed tanker route sparks complaint to standards agency

Aug 17 2012

A Vancouver Island-based researcher has filed a complaint with the federal Competition Bureau and Advertising Standards Canada claiming Enbridge Inc. is misleading the public with its animated depiction of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route.

Lori Waters, owner of a biomedical communications company, filed the complaint Thursday alleging Enbridge is misleading the public in a promotional video which does not show more than 1,000 square kilometres of islands in Douglas Channel.

She alleges the video promotes the safety of the proposed route but does not show navigational hazards.

The video, on the Enbridge website, shows Douglas Channel as a wide open funnel leading from Kitimat to the Pacific, omitting the narrow channels, islands and rocky outcrops of the proposed tanker access route.

Earlier this week, an Enbridge spokesman said the video is an obvious animation and contains a disclaimer that it is "broadly representational."

"That video is meant to be for illustrative purposes only. It's not meant to be to scale.

It's meant to illustrate the pipeline route, not the marine aspects of the operation," Enbridge spokesman Todd Nogier said. "There's a disclaimer at the end because it's really clear this is meant to be illustrative."

The company could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

The Dogwood Initiative, a non-profit public interest group based in Victoria, said the video advertisements that appeared on Enbridge's website and YouTube are among the company's key promotional pieces and have been used by several media outlets since late last year.

In a statement, the Initiative said Enbridge removed the "offending image from one of their videos" and made the disclaimer more prominent in another.

"What Enbridge has done is to distort the maps in its promotional videos to erase numerous islands and twisting passages so that the tanker route appears much safer than it is," the statement quotes Waters as saying.

"Enbridge continues to offer this misleading video to the public, and it can't be trusted. Quickly pulling their fake map out of one ad and slapping a disclaimer at the front of the other ad confirms for me that something weird is going on, and I've included that in with my complaints."

Waters created overlays and maps showing the real Douglas Channel and posted the images on Facebook.

"I thought it was important to set the record straight," she said.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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