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Former Tory staffer now promoting 'ethical oil'

A former communications director for Conservative Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is now creating provocative online ads describing Alberta’s oil sands as "ethical."

"When petroleum reserves were deposited around the world, it is unfortunate that they were all given to the world's bastards," the 27-year-old Alykhan Velshi told the Globe and Mail. "With the exception of Canada, most of them are with the world's bastards. You need to recognize that when you are buying oil."

The ads key off a phrase, "ethical oil", popularized last year by right-wing commentator Ezra Levant, a former tobacco lobbyist who now works for Sun TV.

They appear on the blog, which is set to relaunch Thursday.

One ad states: "Sudan's Oil Fields: Indigenous Peoples Killed; Canada's Oil Sands: Aboriginal Employed."

Since Levant published his book, those types of messages have been adopted by the federal government, with both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and environment minister Peter Kent referring to the oil sands as "ethical."

Though the phrase pops up now and then in Washington, DC, a diverse group of commentators, including everyone from environmentalists to oil industry lobbyists, told the Tyee last spring it's yet to gain much traction there.

Asked about funding sources, Velshi declared he "won't take money from any foreign corporations, any governments," before admitting to the Globe and Mail he wouldn’t refuse money from a Canadian company.

Across the Atlantic, the Guardian newspaper weighed in with its own critique of "ethical oil."

"Velshi's efforts might well be somewhat transparent, but there also seems to be a rather inconvenient hole in his logic, too," a blog post reads. "China -- one of the 'bastards', according to Velshi – also happens to be a major investor in Canadian tar sands."

The Guardian added: "Shouldn't this now mean that Canada's tar sands are labelled as 'Conflict Oil,' too?!"

Geoff Dembicki reports on oil and energy issues for The Tyee and others.

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