Alberta is famous worldwide for its stunning mountain vistas and wide open spaces, but a U.S. environmental group wants oil-soaked birds to be the image that sticks out in tourists' minds.
San Francisco-based Corporate Ethics International launched a new ad campaign Wednesday that urges would-be visitors to "rethink" planning a trip to Alberta.
"Alberta is spending millions to brand itself as an environmentally friendly destination for tourists, when in fact we think it's the most environmentally unfriendly place in North America because of the tarsands," said executive director Michael Marx.
Billboards are going up in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Minneapolis. The campaign will expand to the U.K. in two weeks.
The street-level signs read "Alberta: the Other Oil Disaster" above two side-by-side images of oil-coated birds. One picture is labelled "Gulf Oil Spill Disaster" and the other has the caption "Alberta Tar Sands Oil Disaster."
"Thinking of visiting Alberta, Canada? Think again," the ad continues.
Corporate Ethics is also taking out ads on Google and popular tourism websites.
"We think the Alberta government has been pretty arrogant in ignoring the concerns of environmental groups in the U.S., in Europe and in Canada, as well as First Nations and that it's been deceptive in its public relations in claiming that they're greening the tarsands," said Mr. Marx.
"We felt like we needed to be more aggressive in calling the government out."
Corporate Ethics was behind another controversial campaign that compared development of the oil sands to the plundering of Pandora, the fictional planet depicted in James Cameron's blockbuster movie Avatar.