Mike De Souza
Postmedia News

OTTAWA — Canadian and British environmentalists have unveiled a playful collection of swirling designer hats for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, to send a ruthless message accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government of being an oilpatch-friendly climate-change denier.
The set of eight “Haute Couture ‘Canadiana’ hats,” have a wide range of provocative names, suggesting that Canada has gone from “polite diplomat to tar-sands bully.”
The collection, including “Tar and Feathers,” “Pipeline Medusa,” and “Bully the Beaver” takes aim at the oil and gas industry and its environmental footprint on the eve of Kate and her husband Prince William’s first foreign trip as a royal couple.
But there are also a few playful options such as “Lady Puckingham,” and “Kate’s Road to Avonlea,” and “Maple Beatrice.” The latter was modeled after a hat worn by Princess Beatrice at the royal wedding and subsequently ridiculed for the unusual shape of its swirling bow.
There is also a “Climate Denier” model, equipped with a message saying “this is not a hat,” to poke fun at those who question peer-reviewed scientific literature that has concluded human activity, driven by consumption of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, is producing pollution that is warming the atmosphere.
The two groups which launched the initiative, Toronto-based Environmental Defence and the U.K. Tar Sands Network, said they were trying to use a bit of humour to demonstrate the consequences of an international advocacy strategy co-ordinated by Canadian government officials and industry executives who are working together to lobby against foreign climate change policies.
“We’re making the more general statement about Canada’s changing role in the world and how that’s evolving as a result of the tarsands and the stranglehold that it seems to have over climate and energy policy in this country,” said Gillian McEachern, program manager for climate and energy at environmental Defence.
Carolina Echeverria, a Montreal artist, and a group of Toronto artists known as Toronto Laser Services designed the hats.
Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has defended the oilsands sector against criticism and acknowledges it wants to stop other countries from adopting laws that target its heavier environmental footprint.
The new campaign, launched online at hatsforkate.ca, links to a petition that urges the United Kingdom government to back one such law now under debate in the European Union.
Oilsands crude requires large quantities of water and energy to extract the fuel from the bitumen deposits of Alberta that are also known as tarsands.
A Foreign Affairs spokeswoman told Postmedia News earlier this month that the oilsands are “key to Canada’s economic prosperity” as well as a “stable source of energy,” creating jobs and growth in all regions of the country.”