It seems that in Canada mixing coffee and bitumen makes for a highly explosive combination.
Tim Hortons found that out the hard way when it came under pressure from climate activists to stop running Enbridge ads in its stores. When it agreed to pull the ads, it found itself the target of oil industry supporters’ rage.
Now SumOfUs, the activist organization that launched the petition to get Tim Hortons to stop airing Enbridge ads, says it's feeling the heat too. It says it has to beef up security — because it’s been getting death threats over the Enbridge campaign. And it's asking supporters to donate money to support the new security efforts.
“We were expecting the reaction we got from the company and its allies, but we weren’t expecting the mass of messages from individuals harassing our campaigners online,” the group said in a statement emailed Monday.
Nor did the group expect “to wake up to a message threatening grave violence against SumOfUs staff for the work we do to prevent the oil industry’s takeover of Canada,” the email said.
SumOfus called Timmies' decision to pull the ads a "huge victory against Enbridge, the tar sands company behind some of the biggest pipelines in North America."
The group is asking supporters for donations of at least one dollar for security measures and to “prove that we won’t just bow down to every threat that comes through the door.”
SumOfUs isn't the only one feeling the heat. A University of Toronto professor who tweeted support for Tim Hortons' decision to pull the ad says he received more than 1,300 tweets in reply, some of them racist, criticizing the decision. Tweeters called adjunct forestry prof Faisal Moola "anti-Canadian, foreign funded, and an Arab with obvious Middle Eastern oil connections," the National Observer reported.
Tim Hortons’ decision to pull the Enbridge ads led to a level of social media outrage by some oil-industry supporters that caught many observers by surprise. Prominent conservative pundit Ezra Levant accused the coffee and donuts chain of “declaring war on Canada’s energy industry.”
The issue even got the attention of many politicians, particularly Conservatives from western Canada, who tweeted their frustration with Timmies’ decision.
Some pundits criticized those politicians for a lack of perspective. They noted some of these politicians raised a fuss over ads at Tim Hortons while staying silent on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on residential schools, which came out the same week and declared the now-defunct schools for aboriginals tantamount to “cultural genocide.”
Tim Hortons has remained silent about the controversy since its original decision to pull the ad.
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