A veteran B.C. political cartoonist says his newspaper has backed down in a fight with one of Canada's largest energy companies over a spoof of an advertisement.
Dan Murphy, of the Vancouver Province, created an animated parody targeting Enbridge Inc. and the potential environmental impact of its proposed multi-billion-dollar Northern Gateway pipeline proposal that would cross B.C. and Alberta.
Murphy says his publisher, Postmedia News, pulled the online animation off its website after Enbridge threatened to cut advertising with the newspaper chain, a claim Enbridge denies
The original Enbridge video was designed to promote its controversial pipeline project.
Murphy’s animation mocks Enbridge, splashing oily goo on the screen while questioning the oil giant's environmental record.
Murphy told CBC News that he was told Enbridge was outraged that its ad was mocked and put heavy pressure on Postmedia News.
The parody was taken down and Murphy says he was given a blunt message by Vancouver Province editor Wayne Moriarity.
"'If it doesn't come down, Enbridge says they're pulling a million dollars worth of advertising from Postmedia, and if it doesn't come down, I, Wayne Moriarty, I'm going to lose my job,’” Murphy said Moriarity told him.
Copyright issues cited
Contacted by CBC News, Moriarty would only say copyright issues are involved. Other managers at Postmedia did not return CBC’s phone calls.
Enbridge has released a statement saying it did not threaten to pull its ads and that it did not ask for the video to be removed.
An Enbridge spokesman did say a conversation took place with Postmedia, but he wouldn't divulge any details about who contacted the newspaper company or what was said other than Postmedia had apologized for the spoof.
Murphy says speaking out has been the toughest decision he's faced in his 25-year career at the paper.
“I could lose my job over this. The company could interpret this as being disloyal. I would argue that it is the opposite.”