Earlier this month, I introduced Bill C-372 to end the decades of greenwashing and disinformation from Canada’s hugely powerful oil lobby. The legislation is based directly on the regulations used to curb tobacco advertising. The tobacco regulations are clear and straightforward. With a few tweaks and adjustments, the regulations could help rein in 60-plus years of false advertising and paltering by the oil giants.

This is not the first effort to challenge false advertising by Big Oil. Greenpeace and others have taken cases to the Competition Bureau. But given the overwhelming numbers of ads and the massive online presence of industry front groups, it’s like whack-a-mole. C-372 frames the advertising more directly — as a threat to human health. Given the reports from the International Panel on Climate Change about the advanced state of the global climate crisis, such a position is no exaggeration.

Bill C-372 has unleashed a firestorm of political rage. My office phone has been inundated with foul-mouthed men convinced I will repo their diesel truck. Holding powerful corporations accountable for the veracity of their advertising is being misrepresented as a threat to our Canadian way of life. First out of the gate was convoy leader Tamara Lich. She was quickly followed by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. Now, the Alberta and Saskatchewan NDP have stepped up to denounce my efforts.

This is unfortunate, but the fact is there is no tiptoeing around the issue of the direct link between fossil fuel burning and a destabilized planet. Bill C-372 is just a small part of a much larger fight to deal with the crisis, but it has struck a nerve. This is because it makes a direct connection to the fight against Big Tobacco. Oil giants like Exxon have long used the Big Tobacco Playbook to protect their industry from challenge. And up until now, they have gotten away with it.

For decades, the tobacco industry was untouchable because of an endlessly deep war chest for lawyers, lobbyists and ad agencies. They funded false studies, paid for front-group agitators and ran relentless ad campaigns that seduced new generations of smokers. But by the early 1990s, a concerted strategy was used to bring down Big Tobacco and make them accountable for the harm being done.

In the case of the oil industry, the health threats from burning fossil fuels are overwhelming. Every year, an estimated 34,000 Canadians die from premature deaths caused by air pollution. Globally, more people are dying from fossil fuel pollution than from cigarettes.

Canada now has the third-highest global level of childhood asthma (caused by vehicle pollution). We are just behind the competing oil states of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

For these reasons, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment has been leading the fight for an advertising ban because of the threat to human health.

Across North America, legislators and activists are studying the campaigns that finally took down Big Tobacco. Legal action against greenwashing and false advertising has scored big wins in the U.K. and Europe. In the United States, there are a series of lawsuits seeking multimillion-dollar settlements. The State of California lawsuit is proving to be a blockbuster because it has exposed massive amounts of scientific reports that these companies commissioned and then suppressed.

#BillC372 is just a small part of a much larger fight to deal with the #ClimateCrisis, but it has struck a nerve, writes @CharlieAngusNDP #TruthInAdvertising #GreenWashing #cdnpoli

Canada is nowhere in this fight. We have done little to curb emissions or challenge the massive air war of misinformation that burning more oil and gas is part of the solution to the climate crisis.

The threat is not just to our health, but to our economy. Global forecasts show a dramatic shift from fossil fuel production. The International Energy Agency (hardly a think tank of environmental activism) is warning nations against further investments in oil and gas. Canada’s politicians are being hit with a massive public relations campaign to slow investments in the green transition while locking public money into oil and gas infrastructure that could soon prove economically unviable.

We are at peak C02. The climate breakdown is happening all around us. We cannot increase fossil fuel production and ensure a livable planet for our children. Exxon knew this 40 years ago. It is time for us to accept this reality today. And we need leaders who are willing to chart a credible path forward.

Charlie Angus has been the member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay since 2004. He is the NDP's critic for natural resources and Indigenous youth. He has published eight books on northern and resource issues, including his most recent book, Cobalt: Cradle of the Demon Metals / Birth of a Mining Superpower.

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So glad to see this happening. The greenwashing needs to stop.

Good for you, Mr Angus. I hope all MPs will vote for your Bill C-372 for the well-being of all.

We are inundated by ads from Pathways Alliance (in French Alliance Voie Nouvelle) suggesting that they are doing something positive about climate change. That is baloney. They are proposing Carbon Capture and sequestration (CCS) as THE solution. That so-called solution has been denounced as the «least effective and costliest». Worst, most sequestered carbon will be used to extract more oil in a process called «enhanced oil recovery»; that means more greenhouse gases(GHG), not less. Their ads never mention that they are lobbying the governments(ie our tax dollars!) to have billions and billions in subsidies and tax breaks. And of course, they never hint at the fact when their «dirty oil» is burned in a foreign country, those GHG are NOT counted in the net zero ledger of Canadian pollution.

... Holding powerful corporations accountable for the veracity of their advertising is being misrepresented as a threat to our Canadian way of life….». Again that is baloney. Your Bill C-372 is holding the feet of Big Oil to the fires of reality.

People of Canada need to realize that corporate Canada owns the Government, recently we have seen that Loblaws, and Oil and Gas, Big Pharma, Banks all run the government. When millions of Canadians have less power than a hundred lobbyist there is a tell tale sign that we need to move from Conservative and Liberal political domination. Our democracy is tainted and is losing its purpose of being for the people.
It doesn't matter which one of the two rules because the corporation lobbyist are really the one in charge.
The way to fix that is through electoral reform.

"Now, the Alberta and Saskatchewan NDP have stepped up to denounce my efforts."

The Alberta and Saskatchewan NDP (and BC too) have no viable science-based climate plan. Their climate plans are based on fossil-fuel expansion. Designed to fail.
When it comes to climate and energy, provincial NDP have abandoned traditional NDP principles and positions. As Premier, Rachel Notley threw environmentalists under her diesel bus. No independent comprehensive health study for indigenous communities on the frontlines of oilsands development.

On the prairies, the NDP pander to the O&G industry. They chase conservative parties to the right in a vain attempt to increase votes. What they fail to understand is that pipeline boosters and neoliberal oilsands cheerleaders will just vote for the real thing.

Climate change disproportionately affects women and children. The global poor are the most vulnerable. IT matters little what your policies are on farm labor, GSAs, childcare, etc. If you're not progressive on climate, you're not progressive.
Future generations will not applaud.

"Oilpatch odours in northwestern Alberta still pungent, years after inquiry"
"[Donna Daum, a retired teacher] points out that members of the current NDP govt — including Premier Rachel Notley — were loud in their support when they were in opposition.
"'(Notley) talked about the precautionary principle, which obviously is no longer in their dictionary. I can't believe how these dictionaries get rewritten the moment there's some responsibility attached to things.'"

In opposition, the NDP voiced support for a comprehensive healthy study on cancers in Fort Chipewyan. In govt, the only sound was crickets.
"[Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation,] said his people continue to die from cancer at alarmingly high rates, a fact he blamed on oilsands developments. 'Whatever food I'm bringing in from the bush, it is getting our people sick.'
The chief said he had hoped that after four decades of Conservative rule in Alberta, things would be different when the NDP government came to power in May 2015. But under the Rachel Notley government, he said, it's business as usual. 'I feel very, very ashamed to call myself an Albertan. I feel very, very ashamed to call myself a Canadian citizen.'" (January 2017)

"The talk around our table is that the NDP government is just another platform of the previous Conservative government with a different logo. Nothing has changed." (Chief Allan Adam)

"When the choice is a rotten apple or a rotten orange, too many of us just abstain
"…For far too long in Alberta, power has rested with politicians who cater to corporate interests. This has had devastating effects on Indigenous lands as companies swoop into native communities to exploit resources, then leave behind trails of clear-cuts, pollution and broken promises. (CBC, 2023)

Former AB Liberal leader Kevin Taft: "Through her whole career and her whole party, up until they became government, [Notley and the NDP] were very effective critics, counterbalances to the oil industry. As soon as she stepped into office, as soon as she and her party became government, they've simply became instruments of the oil industry."

Dr John O'Connor: "Pre-election, the NDP/Rachel Notley were vocally supportive of bringing accountability and responsibility to bear on the environmental and health impacts, especially downstream, of the tarsands. After the AB Cancer Board report on Fort Chipewyan, she was notably outspoken on the need to comply with the recommendation for a comprehensive health study of Fort Chip, which was never even started.
"Now—it's buried and forgotten. Such hypocrisy."

Reakash Walters, federal NDP candidate in Edmonton Centre 2015: "As one of two people who nominated Rachel in 2015, I am truly disappointed in the direction the provincial party has taken and that they have chosen to prioritize oil extraction in the middle of a climate crisis."
"What was Rachel Notley suggesting when she said she's not committed to voting for Jagmeet Singh's New Democrats?" (Alberta Politics, 2019)

Well done Charlie. Let's hope there are enough to support this bill. This should have been done years ago.

People are always worried about Chinese or Russian interference in out politics. We don't need to go that far. Just south of the border in Minnesota is the Pine Bend refinery. This one Canadian bitumen refinery has made a large percentage of Koch Industries wealth. The Kochs have been the leading dark money manipulator of the American political scene. With so much of their wealth emanating from Canada you would think people would wake up to their influence here.

To issue a bill banning ICE vehicle advertising as well, would help speed up the transition..