A new private member's bill is calling for a legal ban on all claims that one fossil fuel has less emissions than another or that its production would help the economy, raising the ire of energy proponents.
Private Member's Bill C-372, An Act respecting fossil fuel advertising underwent first reading Monday in the House of Commons by NDP MP Charlie Angus (Timmins--James Bay, ON).
The preamble of the Fossil Fuel Advertising Act (its shorter name) cited extreme weather events and last year's wildfires in its justification.
"Parliament is of the opinion that fossil fuel advertising currently deploys techniques which knowingly mislead the public and fail to disclose the health and environmental harms associated with their use, impeding informed consumer decision-making, undermining public support for effective climate action and delaying the transition to safer, cleaner energy sources," the preamble explained.
The bill claims its purpose is to protect Canadian health and the environment, "to prevent the public from being deceived or misled with respect to the environmental and health hazards of using fossil fuels and to enhance public awareness of those hazards."
The legislation was seconded by NDP MP Taylor Bacharach (Skeena — Bulkley Valley, BC) and has the following text verbatim.
It is prohibited for a person to promote a fossil fuel or the production of a fossil fuel
(a) in a manner that states or suggests that the fossil fuel, its production or its emissions are less harmful than other fossil fuels, their production or their emissions;
(b) in a manner that states or suggests that a fossil fuel or the practices of a producer or of the fossil fuel industry would lead to positive outcomes in relation to the environment, the health of Canadians, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples or the Canadian or global economy; or
(c) by using terms, expressions, logos, symbols or illustrations that are prohibited by the regulations.
The bill would even ban a producer and retailer to promote fossil fuel sales through prizes, rebates, or lotteries and from trading fossil fuels for the purchase of a product or service. It also bans Canadians from using publications outside of Canada to promote fossil fuels or their brand.
Signs advertising gas prices would still be allowed. Other exceptions include "a literary, dramatic, musical, cinematographic, scientific, educational or artistic work, production or performance that uses or depicts fossil fuels, fossil fuel-related brand elements or the production of fossil fuels."
A wordy part of the "application" section gave limited freedoms to write opinion articles, commentaries, or reports on fossil fuels "if no consideration is given, directly or indirectly, by a producer, a retailer or an entity that has as one of its purposes to promote fossil fuels for the reference to the fossil fuels, fossil fuel-related brand elements or the production of fossil fuels in that opinion, commentary or report."
Energy commentator Eric Nuttall condemned the bill on Twitter ("X").
"The Canadian oil & gas sector has much to be proud of, yet this Bill would make it ILLEGAL and subject to up to 2 years in jail / $1MM fine to promote our industry's successes, or even state the obvious fact that LNG is a cleaner energy source than coal! I'll need my own GoFundMe page if this Bill passes...unreal," he wrote.
Heather Exner-Pirot, Director of Energy, Natural Resources and Environment at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said in a post to Twitter ("X") that personnel at Canada Action could face up to to two years in jail for their advertising campaign to promote OurEnergyHelps.ca.
She posted one of their signs that read, "As long as the world needs oil and natural gas, shouldn't it be Canadian?"
On Twitter ("X"), Angus suggested he was making history.
"Today I introduced #BillC372 to outlaw advertising and promotion by the oil and gas lobby. Big oil has 60-plus years of disinformation on their impacts on the environment and health. The big tobacco moment has arrived for Big Oil," he wrote.
Only accounts that Angus follows or mentions were allowed to reply, leaving one sole comment in the first 21 hours after his post.
"Thank you Charlie. This advertising does great harm," wrote Sue Stroud.