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Alberta’s War Room Creates a Job

ARTIFACT: Artist Mike Kendrick owes a big debt of gratitude to Jason Kenney.

David Beers 19 Mar

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee.

Some have wondered how piles of public money invested in Jason Kenney’s “War Room” convert to better futures for Albertans. The Canadian Energy Centre, as the petro-propaganda peddler is officially named, has embarrassed itself again and again.

But that’s helped at least one Albertan make a living. Mike Kendrick is an artist with a sense of humour constantly foraging for material. “Every time the war room does something stupid that’s drawing the public’s attention, I seem to see a boost in my business,” he told CTV News Edmonton.

Ever since the Canadian Energy Centre launched with a $30-million annual budget and a logo quickly demonstrated to have been ripped off from an existing company, it’s created a market for Orwell-as-farce kitsch. The enterprising Kendrick has been selling posters and T-shirts on Etsy with this image of his own design:

582px version of MikeKendrickPosterLong.jpg

Satiric sales surged again recently when the War Room tried to pick a fight with Netflix over the cartoon movie Bigfoot Family. That would be the one in which a Bigfoot Dad and his smaller-footed human family and a bunch of talking animals wind up in Alaska fighting an oil company that pretends to be all about clean energy while planning to bomb a valley to extract crude. Never happened! You’re “spreading misinformation about the oil and gas industry” thundered the War Room. (Though, fun fact: back in 1958 there was a serious proposal called Project Cauldron to detonate 100 nuclear explosives to melt the pesky tar right out of the oilsands.)

Bottom line, over the course of several news cycles the Canadian Energy Centre waged culture war. Consequently, far more people watched Bigfoot Family. And righteousness and ridicule clashed mightily on social media, with little other tangible result.

Except to Mike Kendrick’s bottom line. “I’ve been selling in the dozens of posters and I had to get another production run of T-shirts. I ran out,” he told CTV.

There are plenty more on the way, he promises, as he eggs on his great provider.

Read more: Energy, Politics, Media

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