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Canada: NDP-Proposed Speech Law Calls to Jail Those That Praise Fossil Fuels

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Charlie Angus, a longstanding New Democratic Party MP representing the Timmins-James Bay region in Canada, has introduced a provocative private member’s bill this week, known as the Fossil Fuel Advertising Act or C-372. Essentially, this act aims to impose penalties, including imprisonment, on those found publicly advertising praise of fossil fuels, even if their statements are based on accepted scientific facts.

For example, such facts could include the statement that burning natural gas is less harmful to the environment than coal.

However, Bill C-372 encompasses much more than just prohibiting false advertising from oil and gas companies. Heralded by Angus in the House of Commons as the oil industry’s impending “big tobacco moment,” this reference reflects the sweeping federal ban on tobacco advertisement currently in effect in Canada. Yet, seeing as the NDP currently only holds 25 seats in parliament, it is unlikely that this private member’s bill will gain the necessary traction to pass.

We obtained a copy of the bill for you here.

Despite its slim chances of success, the implications of this act apply broadly. For instance, any Canadian found commending the oil industry or oil in general could be faced with penalties. The law stipulates a heavy fine of up to $500,000 for individual violators, while oil corporations could face up to two years imprisonment or have to shoulder a $1,000,000 fine.

Under the law, a wide net is cast as to what constitutes “promotion” or “advertising,” potentially including items such as social media posts.

The bill also criminalizes various common arguments in favor of oil and natural gas, even if they’re scientifically supported.

Moreover, the law potentially introduces legal consequences for making arguments about fossil fuels being advantageous to the Canadian economy, Indigenous reconciliation, or Canadians’ health.

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