Not that being the top of The Guardian's "most viewed" stories list is really something to brag about. Not when that numero uno story is about the environmental catastrophe called the Athabasca Tar Sands. Not when that Tar Sands story is about how the government needed a promo video showing a beautiful, pristine seaside beach.
Seaside Beach? Wait a minute, when did landlocked Alberta get any kind of seaside? From The Guardian:
"We think it's quite funny - a landlocked province in Canada presenting an image of itself as an island," said Sheelagh Caygill of Northumberland Tourism, which is now fondly hoping to piggy-back on the international campaign. News of the gaffe is spreading like wildfire on the internet with tags such as: "Come to Alberta - no, wait, it's Britain."
The curious choice of a seaside beach for a place which has none, was spotted by Peter Bailey, a Canadian looking for places to take his dinghy. He initially thought that the scene might be set on one of Alberta's many lakes, whose sandy shores and unpolluted water are important to the tourism drive.
Oil extraction is concentrated in Alberta's Oil Sands region, which include landscapes vaguely similar to Northumberland's unspoilt coast. But Bailey tracked down the real setting - halfway between the drama of Bamburgh castle and the kipper-smoking village of Craster - after a marathon email session with the Canadian government, tourist authorities and their PR advisers.
Ottawa has responded by suggesting that the choice of Northumberland symbolised the fact that "Albertans are a worldly people". Tom Olsen, head of media relations for Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper, said: "There's no attempt to mislead here. The picture used just fitted the mood and tone of what we were trying to do."
I suppose Exalted Furious Leader really didn't intend to make himself and his home province the laughingstock of Britain. As for the atrociously lame excluse that Albertans are a worldly people? Maybe, that is if you could find an alternative world where everyone had ginormous-assed pickup trucks and drove as though red lights were just one man's opinion.
What irony, considering that the global pollution of the atmosphere and water from the Tar Sands is really the only thing "worldly" about this environmental nightmare.
This looks like wearing a mask to hide the real identity - robbers and thieves do that too.
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