OTTAWA—The Canadian Government has hired FleishmanHillard to lead a lucrative international campaign that aims to defuse criticism of the country's controversial oilsands.

Natural Resources Canada, the department responsible for the country's resource use, named FleishmanHillard Canada to handle the $22m engagement campaign following a competitive tender. 

The assignment will focus on positioning Canada as a 'responsible' resource developer, focusing on the US, Europe and Asia.

Canada's oil sands have drawn considerable environmental criticism, particularly in relation to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. 

Accordingly, the new campaign will also aim to tout the country's environmental record across its entire natural resource sector. According to one report, David Provencher, a spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, said the campaign will look to ensure “a fact-based public dialogue.” 

It is understood that Fleishman will oversee public relations, advertising and social media. The firm secured the business after working on a similar brief for the American Petroleum Institite, in which it tackled opposition to fracking. 

The assignment was confirmed by a FleishmanHillard representative, who declined to provide further details.