Members of Canada’s far-left New Democratic Party (NDP) introduced a bill to the Canadian Parliament on Monday seeking to punish the “promotion” of fossil fuels with million-dollar fines and lengthy prison sentences. Under Bill C-372, also known as “The Fossil Fuels Advertising Act,” even scientifically true statements about the benefits of burning natural gas could now carry criminal penalties in Canada.
Longtime NDP caucus member Charlie Angus, who tabled the motion as a private member’s bill in the House of Commons on Monday, described C-372 as “a bill that would make illegal false advertising by the oil and gas industry.” Angus further accused the fossil fuel industry of “killing people” and spreading “disinformation.” He also repeated as fact the claim that “air pollution caused by fossil fuels leads to millions of premature deaths globally, including tens of thousands of premature deaths in Canada alone.”
Angus compares his proposal to Canada’s existing ban on tobacco advertising. However, according to the bill’s many critics, the proposed legislation would go far beyond restricting advertising by large corporations. Given its vague current wording, Bill C-372 can also criminalize the speech of private citizens who speak positively about the oil and gas industry.
“It is prohibited for a person to promote a fossil fuel, a fossil fuel-related brand element, or the production of a fossil fuel,” the act reads.
Citizens who violate this ordinance—potentially with something as simple as a social media post—would face fines up to $500,000, and corporate entities could be charged up to $1 million and be sentenced to two years in prison, according to Canada’s National Post.
Per the bill, “promotion” is defined as:
…a representation about a product or service by any means, whether directly or indirectly, including any communication of information about the product or service and its price and distribution, that is likely to influence and shape attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours about the product or service.
Section 8 further makes it a crime for anyone to argue that a fossil fuel is “less harmful than other fossil fuels.” This provision would effectively outlaw the scientifically provable statement that natural gas burns cleaner than coal or diesel.
Other banned forms of “promotion” include: saying that fossil fuels contribute to the national economy; implying that fossil fuels can be beneficial to “the health of Canadians [or] reconciliation with Indigenous peoples”; or holding a gas station loyalty card.
However, movies, plays, and musical performances that “use or depict fossil fuels” will be permitted as long as the producers are not financially linked to the oil industry.
Given that the NDP holds only 25 seats in the House of Commons, experts in Canada predict that Bill C-372 has little to no chance of passing, but it nevertheless advances the Trudeau administration’s efforts to cast fossil fuels and global warming as “existential threats” to human existence.
The full text of “The Fossil Fuels Advertising Act” can be read below: