CALGARY (CP) - A pair of anti-corporate activists may have pulled off a bizarre prank at the Go Expo Energy conference.
A television station broadcast footage Thursday from an online site called theenergynews.com showing members of a group called the Yes Men posing as key players from the U.S. oil industry.
Oil and gas industry executives had paid $50 each to hear a speech from the National Petroleum Council, a group that advises the White House on oil and gas matters.
Rumour had it that a new joint energy policy from the Canadian and American governments was coming down the pike.
At first, the speech just seemed odd.
"Without oil, at least four billion people would starve," one of the speakers earnestly told the crowd. "This spiral of trouble would make the oil infrastructure utterly useless.
"And starving would become the new black."
When the speaker started to talk about vivolium - a renewable energy source nobody in the room had ever heard of - the red flags started to go up.
But once the pair lit up two torch-like candles and urged the audience to do the same in memory of a dead Exxon oil worker, attendees and organizers realized they'd been had.
The pair were quickly ushered off the stage and out of the building by security guards.
"We apologize for this incident," said Wes Scott of Go Expo. "We of course make every attempt to verify and, you know, ensure that the credibility and legitimacy of our speakers is always on par. Unfortunately, today's keynote speaker and presentation was misrepresented."
How did the Yes Men manage to get on stage in the first place?
Organizers of the conference said they were approached by what they thought was a reputable company offering them speakers from the petroleum council.
The conference took them up on the offer. After Thursday's debacle, they contacted the petroleum council directly. Council officials confirmed they have nothing to do with the men who appeared in Calgary.
The Yes Men have been travelling the world for years, pulling similar pranks at corporate events in an effort to demonstrate how corporations and government act in dehumanizing ways toward the public.