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Pranksters crash oil industry conference

By The Canadian Press

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CALGARY — A pair of anti-corporate activists who pulled off a bizarre prank at a major energy conference in Calgary have been charged with trespassing.

CTV Calgary 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 what they thought was a member of the National Petroleum Council, a group that advises the White House on oil and gas matters, at Go Expo Energy Conference on Thursday.

"Since it is the largest oil conference in Canada this year, it seemed like a perfect target for our actions," said Mike Bonanno, one of The Yes Men.

"Right now it’s the most egregious issue facing humanity — the idea of whether we should continue to exploit oil resources when scientists are telling us that it’s going to kill us."

Andy Bichlbaum, the other member of The Yes Men, told the crowd the energy source of the future will be vivoleum, which he said was made from dead humans.

They passed out candles to the audience they said was made from vivoleum.

"When we started playing the video of Reggie the janitor who had been turned into fuel, people were either laughing or holding the candle at arms length and just having an awful expression on their face," Bonanno said.

The pair were quickly ushered off the stage and out of the building by security guards.

Wes Scott of Go Expo apologized and said they made attempts to verify the legitimacy of speakers. He said they were approached by what they thought was a reputable company offering them speakers from the petroleum council.

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.

Bonanno and Bichlbaum are both charged with trespassing and face a fine of $300.

Conference organizers say they have yet to decide whether to give the audience refunds or try to recoup the money from The Yes Men.

"We’re not doing anything wrong," Bonanno said.


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2007 The Halifax Herald Limited