Big Tobacco’s Time Comes for Big Oil

Earlier this month, I presented Bill C-372 to end decades of greenwashing and misinformation by Canada’s enormously powerful oil lobby. The legislation is based directly on the rules used to curb tobacco advertising. Tobacco regulations are clear and simple. With some changes and adjustments, the regulations could help curb more than 60 years of misleading advertising and beatings by the oil giants.

This is not the first effort to challenge Big Oil’s misleading advertising. Greenpeace and others have taken cases to the Competition Bureau. But given the overwhelming number of ads and the industry’s massive online presence front groups, it’s like whacking a mole. C-372 frames advertising more directly: as a threat to human health. Given the reports of the International Panel on Climate Change Regarding the advanced state of the global climate crisis, such a position is not exaggerated.

Bill C-372 has unleashed a storm of political anger. My office phone has been flooded with foul-mouthed men convinced I’ll give them back their diesel truck. Holding powerful corporations responsible for the truthfulness of their advertising is being misrepresented as a threat to our Canadian way of life. The first one out the door was the leader of the convoy. Tamara Lich. Alberta quickly followed her. Prime Minister Danielle Smith. Now, the Alberta-Saskatchewan NDP has stepped forward to denounce my efforts.

This is unfortunate, but the fact is that we cannot tiptoe around the question of the direct link between burning fossil fuels and a destabilized planet. Bill C-372 is just a small part of a much broader fight to address the crisis, but it has struck a chord. 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 your industry from the challenge. And so far they have gotten away with it.

For decades, the tobacco industry was untouchable due to an endless war chest for lawyers, lobbyists and advertising agencies. They financed fake studies, paid agitators from front groups and carried out incessant advertising campaigns that seduced new generations of smokers. But in the early 1990s, a concerted strategy was used to bring down Big Tobacco and hold them accountable for the damage they were causing.

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

Canada now has the third highest level of childhood asthma (caused by vehicle pollution) in the world. 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 to ban advertising due to the threat it poses to human health.

Across North America, lawmakers and activists are studying the campaigns that finally brought down Big Tobacco. Legal action against greenwashing and misleading advertising has achieved great success in the UK and Europe. In the United States there are a series of lawsuits seeking multimillion-dollar settlements. He State of California Lawsuit is turning out 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 confront the #ClimateCrisis, but it has struck a chord, 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 only to our health, but also to our economy. Global forecasts show a dramatic shift in fossil fuel production. The International Energy Agency (hardly a think tank on environmental activism) is warning nations against new investments in oil and gas. Canada’s politicians are being hit by a massive public relations campaign to slow investments in the green transition while blocking public money on oil and gas infrastructure that could soon prove economically unviable.

We are at peak C02. Climate collapse is happening all around us. We cannot increase fossil fuel production and guarantee a habitable 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 on natural resources and Indigenous youth. He has published eight books on northern and resource issues, including his most recent book, Cobalt: Cradle of Demon Metals / Birth of a Mining Superpower.

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