An Industry in Danger?
Tomorrow is Too Late (view an excerpt) was made for Environment Canada’s Fisheries and Marine Services. Like Foresters, it aims to show the public the good work being done by ministry employees. The film looks at efforts to conserve and restore fish stocks in Canadian waters. While the tone and title of the film may seem alarmist, Tomorrow is Too Late (view an excerpt) does not really sound the alarm over threats to Canada’s fishing industry. Rather, it makes the case that fisheries officers are doing an excellent job of surveying and protecting stocks, and offers a positive look at ministry programs. The film is concerned more with reassuring viewers than with causing concern.
The Challenge for Change program sought to turn documentary into a tool for social change. In 1974, in the midst of the Challenge for Change era, the NFB’s English Program created Studio E, which was to focus on the environment. Some sponsored films were produced through the studio. One of them was Operation Conservation (view an excerpt), funded by the Department of National Defence and released in 1977.
Operation Conservation (view an excerpt) is aimed at employees of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian population at large. Instead of singing the praises of DND employees, this film offers them tips on conserving energy. It notes that oil reserves could be depleted in the near future, and that everyone must do their part for energy conservation. The Department of National Defence uses more energy than any other federal ministry, so they want to set a good example. But is that really all there is to this film?
The Context: Crisis
1973 was the year of a global oil crisis. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) put an embargo on exports to Western countries to punish them for supporting Israel in wars against Arab states. When oil exports resumed, OPEC increased the price of a barrel of crude oil by 70%. The embargo and sharp price increase created scarcity and skyrocketing prices at the pumps. A series of negotiations with OPEC ensued, with the targeted Western countries eventually forced to modify some of their policies seen as too favourable to Israel. The crisis was over by March 1974.
We must protect our forests, this film tells us, because they provide us with primary resources and are popular with vacationers. Images shot from a plane in flight, with an employee of the Ministry of Fisheries and Forestry on board, serve to drive home the message that foresters are effectively watching over and guarding the forest.