Two New Democratic parties from Canada’s largest oil- and gas-producing provinces are distancing themselves from a federal NDP private member’s bill that seeks to ban advertising of fossil fuels.
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In a joint statement issued Monday, Alberta and Saskatchewan NDP energy critics said they do not support the bill introduced by Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus.
Nagwan Al-Guneid, MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, and Aleana Young, MLA for Regina University, said energy companies are “important job creators” in their provinces and shouldn’t be singled out with advertising restrictions.
“We already have legislation around false advertising, and we are more interested in advancing ideas that can actually help people,” the statement said.
“It is not helpful to pick fights that just polarize people and get in the way of the real solutions we need.”
The current wording of Bill C-372 would prohibit oil and gas companies from promoting their products or the production of fossil fuels that would suggest they are less harmful or produce less emissions, or are beneficial to the health of Canadians, the environment, the economy, or reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The bill would also prevent third parties related to producers to do the same kinds of promotional work.
Angus said it was an attempt to prevent false or misleading advertising about the industry and its products.
“Canada’s oil and gas industry is not just killing the planet, the impacts are killing people,” Angus said on Feb. 6. “Globally, the numbers of pollution deaths are higher than the death rates from smoking. And yet the oil and gas lobby continues to pump enormous sums into advertising campaigns to falsely claim the benefits of allowing even more burning of fossil fuels.
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“Big Oil has always relied on the Big Tobacco playbook of delay and disinformation and so to tackle this immense threat to human health, we need to use many of the strategies that finally took down Big Tobacco.”
The provincial NDP statement instead urged advancing policies that provided good-paying jobs and diversifying the economy while also addressing climate change.
“All indications show that Alberta and Saskatchewan will face a challenging summer with severe drought, less rain, and potential wildfires,” the statement reads.
“We remain focused on finding climate solutions while strengthening the economy.”
Private member’s bills rarely are passed into law.
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On The Roy Greene Show on Corus Radio, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith called Bill C-372 “utterly absurd.”
“I’m not sure who it is that they’re trying to placate, but I can tell you that there will be no resonance for that kind of message in Alberta,” Smith said on Sunday.
On social media, called on all Alberta MLAs to “speak against such lunacy.”
The day after the bill was announced, the Canadian Association of Energy Contractors (CAOEC), whose members include drilling contractors, said the proposed bill appeared to display a lack of understanding of energy issues being faced.
“This bill would impede our country’s ability to foster a sustainable energy industry, strengthen decarbonization efforts, and advance Indigenous economic reconciliation,” CAOEC president and CEO Mark Scholz said in a statement on Feb. 7.
Dr. Sehjal Bhargava, a board member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, said doctors across the country are seeing the direct impacts of inaction on the climate crisis and pollution related to oil and gas in their patients with worsening health impacts.
“Patients who come to clinics and hospitals who are struggling to breathe, children presenting with more asthma attacks than before, seniors with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations presenting during wildfire season, people suffering from heat stroke or being diagnosed with cancer is due to life-long exposures to toxins in our water, soil and air – the need for a fossil fuel advertising ban is clear and urgent,” Bhargava said on Feb. 6.
“Every year, fossil fuel pollution is directly linked to 34,000 premature deaths in Canada and over 8 million deaths globally.”
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