Canadian bill proposed by NDP would make it a crime to 'promote' fossil fuels

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If New Democratic Party MP Charlie Angus passes his private member’s bill, it will be a criminal offense to “promote” fossil fuels or the fossil fuel industry. Even noting that natural gas is cleaner than coal could land a person in jail.

Angus tabled C-372, also known as the Fossil Fuel Advertising Act, on Monday. The northern Ontario MP is no stranger to controversy and infamously tweeted that an Alberta woman who was denied an organ transplant because she was unvaccinated “died because she preferred to fight for disinformation, anti-vaxx bullshit and conspiracy.”

He introduced his bill by announcing, “I am proud to rise and introduce a bill that would make illegal false advertising by the oil and gas industry.”

Angus then accused the oil and gas industry of disseminating widespread “disinformation” and “killing people” just as “big tobacco” had done for years before it was subject to a national advertising ban.

But C-372 is not just about advertising oil and gas: it would apply to anyone who even inadvertently promotes fossil fuels in any manner, as the National Post noted.

Promotion is defined as just about anything said, written or communicated about fossil fuels or “‍a representation about a product or service by any means … that is likely to influence and shape attitudes, beliefs and behaviors about the product or service.‍”

“It is prohibited for a person to promote a fossil fuel, a fossil fuel-related brand element or the production of a fossil fuel,” reads the act.

Prosecution for this “crime” would mean summary conviction and a $500,000 fine for an ordinary citizen but up to two years in jail and $1 million fine if you happen to work in the oil industry. Section 8 of the bill makes it a criminal offense to engage in any “promotion” that finds fossil fuels to be in any way good for “the health of Canadians, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples or the Canadian or global economy.”

That would outlaw almost any statement linking the fossil fuel industry to high-paying jobs or a strong economy – just for a start.

And gas stations could be prohibited from issuing point-accumulating cards or holding contests under the bill’s provision that insists retailers do not “provide or offer to provide any consideration for the purchase of a fossil fuel.”

Private members’ bills do not often pass a third reading in the House of Commons and are rarely passed to the Senate for approval and eventual Royal Assent. But given the level of environmental extremism demonstrated by Steven Guilbeault, the Trudeau government’s environmental and climate change minister, Bill C-372 has more than a fighting chance.

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