QUEBEC — Energy company TransCanada has severed ties with Edelman after documents leaked last week revealed the PR firm was proposing a strategy that included attacks on opponents to the company’s Energy East Pipeline Project.

After Greenpeace leaked the planning documents last week, TransCanada initially defended the strategy in a blog post that accused its “organized opposition” of, in the past, using “misinformation to confuse the public.”

“This is why we started working with a consulting firm a few months ago,” the blog post explained. “They have provided support to help us better engage in the public debate about Energy East in Quebec and the rest of Canada. The documents published today are recommendations provided to TransCanada for the Energy East project. While these versions are not the latest, we have moved forward with implementing certain components of the strategy.”

The post included the caveat that not all of the recommendations had been implemented, and that TransCanada focused on “the pieces that support a coordinated and organized communications program to ensure all Canadians have the facts to make an informed decision about Energy East.” This included a paid media campaign, the launch of and a controversial advocacy program.

But in a surprising turn, the company today announced it was cutting ties with Edelman because “recent controversy around our communications strategy has created a distraction most notably in Quebec.  The conversation about Energy East has turned into a debate about our choice of agency partner. We need to get back to a conversation about the project itself and as a result we have agreed that it is in the best interests of the project that we do not extend our contract with Edelman.”

Edelman also issued a statement noting the firm and TransCanada “have mutually agreed not to extend Edelman's contract beyond its current term.” The firm goes on to defend its proposed strategy calling it “both ethical and moral, and any suggestion to the contrary is untrue.”  

The contract concludes at the end of December and Edelman will support the transition of work.