DEBATE: On the Fossil Fuel Advertising Ban Bill C-372

Why the fossil fuel advertising ban bill c-372 is nonsense

The private members' Bill C-372 introduced to the House of Commons wants to ban all fossil fuel advertising in Canada, regardless of whether the ads are based on scientifically proven facts. The legislation aims to prevent all discourse on the benefits of responsibly produced Canadian oil and gas such as the ability to reduce global emissions by displacing coal-fired power abroad, the opportunities to advance economic reconciliation with Indigenous communities, and the creation of billions of dollars in revenues for our governments used to pay for schools, hospitals, and more.

Join Cody Battershill, Founder and Chief Spokesperson of Canada Action, as he debates the topic with Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee, on the Mike Smyth Show of CKNW 980 out of Vancouver, B.C.


Or, keep reading for the full transcript between Mike, Cody, Peter, and the callers below. Also see:


YouTube - Canada Action

Mike: Yeah. Okay. There's a commercial from Exxon gas stations there.

We see a lot of advertising for fossil fuels and gas stations for sure. Check this out now, an ad ban. Should these ads be banned just like they banned advertising for tobacco and cigarettes?

The ad ban is proposed by the federal NDP. NDP MP Charlie Angus has introduced this bill. He is getting backing from a group, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Now of course, it's around climate change, but they also argue that combustion of fossil fuels is bad for your health, just like cigarettes are bad for your health.

So we should ban the advertising?

Got a great panel standing by to discuss this. First, let's have a listen here to the MP who's proposed this. NDP MP, Charlie Angus.

Charlie: The bill will make it illegal for big oil and gas lobby and the gas lobby or their front groups or paid influencers to falsely promote the burning of fossil fuels as a benefit to the public.

Mike: All right, let's discuss with my guests now. I got both sides of it for you.

Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner at the Wilderness Committee. He supports this ad ban. Hi, Peter.

Peter: Hey, thanks for having me.

Mike: Thanks a lot for coming on.

Cody Battershill is the founder of Canada Action, which is an oil and gas advocacy group. He opposes this ban. Hi, Cody.

Cody: Hey, good morning, Mike. Good morning, Peter.

Mike: Good morning to both of you guys, and I appreciate you doing it.

Peter, let me go to you first. An ad ban. Basically, they're basically saying that this is like the cigarette advertising ban. We should do the same thing with fossil fuels. You agree, right?

Peter: Yeah. I mean, I think there's a lot of parallels between the tobacco companies and the way that they manipulated the public discourse, spent millions of dollars on ads trying to convince people that smoking was actually healthy.

And I think that's what we're seeing now from the fossil fuel industry that is saying, oh, look, we're working to reach net zero by, don't worry, 2050. A far off date. Or LNG, will reduce emissions without the asterisks that only if it replaces coal, only if you're only looking at the gas, and only if these countries aren't actually moving on to renewables instead.

So what this bill, it doesn't ban all fossil fuel advertising. What it bans is misleading, deceptive, false advertising that is trying to create the impression that fossil fuels are in any way beneficial to public health or environmental effects.

And we've seen the public health effects of climate change through cardiac arrest and heat waves, through respiratory problems with wildfires, through mental health.

For farmers who, you know their crop has been wiped out for the year. These are real impacts. And the nurses and physicians that have been pushing for this legislation know that this fossil fuel industry advertising is harmful to public health.

Mike: Okay, let's go to Cody Battershill. So, Cody is with Canada Action, which is an oil and gas advocacy group. So I guess, Cody, this bill would be directed squarely at your group as one of the primary targets here, would it not?

Cody: Well, the bill would actually challenge, and I guess, undermine freedom of speech for the millions of Canadians who do work in and rely upon our oil and gas, our natural resource, our agriculture, our natural resource sectors, which do underpin Canadian prosperity as our natural economic strength and our largest export.

But let's first just talk about the fact that the Saskatchewan NDP and the Alberta NDP oppose this bill. They've said it's polarizing. It's undermining real solutions.

Let's talk about Premier Eby, the leader of the NDP, the government, and Josie Osborne in BC talking about the importance of getting our clean, low-emission natural gas to the world.

Let's talk about the reality. And I'd love to hear what Peter would say to all of the Indigenous leaders who are talking about how harmful, how outrageous and how reprehensible this bill would be for the Indigenous communities who work in oil and gas and want to develop oil and gas. There was an Indigenous leader who compared it to the Indian Act.

And let's remember, global demand for oil and natural gas is growing. So, Charlie Angus, this bill would only help other producers. That's whose Peter's actions have been helping for the last ten years.  Demand is growing. Canada has a track record for protecting the environment we should all be proud of.

And we are very proud to stand with the women, men, Indigenous communities, labour, non- labour, and Canadians from all across the country who care about affordability, who care about Canada's role in global energy security, and being honest and pragmatic about the benefits to Canadian families.

Mike: Okay, Peter, I know you want to respond to that, but on this point, let's listen again to the MP here who is supporting this ad ban. So this is NDP MP Charlie Angus here, comparing oil advertising to tobacco advertising. Let's listen.

Charlie: To claim that there are clean fossil fuels is like saying there are safe cigarettes. We know that is simply not true. The time has come to ban all oil and gas advertising. The big tobacco moment has finally arrived for big oil.

Mike: Okay, the big tobacco moment has arrived for big oil, he says. I wonder, though, Peter, for your thoughts, for people who are trying to quit smoking. And I think most the vast majority of Canadians would support the advertising ban on tobacco.

But when you're looking at fossil fuels, that's something that people have to use. I mean, they don't have any option. I mean, you have an option not to smoke for a lot of people, you don't have an option. You have to use fossil fuels. What are your thoughts?

Peter: We don't. We have the technology to replace fossil fuels right now. And indeed, a lot of the places that we're thinking about selling our LNG, like Japan, have signed on to have a fully renewable, decarbonized electricity grid by 2035, just like Canada did.

So I think it is hard for people to stop using fossil fuels in their daily life, because the way we have set up our society forces people to do that. And it's not on the individual, but as a collective, we absolutely have the power to make it possible that no one needs to use fossil fuels anymore.

We can heat our homes with electricity. We can use public transit, cycle and electric vehicles for folks that that's not practical for. We can build communities that aren't designed to pollute.

And so we absolutely have the ability to make that transition. We can make it as fast as possible, and we absolutely have to, because the consequences of climate change are wreaking havoc in communities all across the country and around the world.

The fact of the matter is, the fossil fuels that these companies are producing are killing people. They're killing people here in British Columbia, and they're killing people all over the world. And it's the same reality as tobacco that these companies have known for decades that this is coming.

For decades, they have polluted the public discourse and tried to convince people that their products are not harmful. And that is why this legislation is necessary to preserve public health.

Mike: Cody, go ahead.

Cody: Well, the only reason that Peter supports this is because he can't actually argue the facts. He wants to silence people with an opposing viewpoint, which is quite concerning. Maybe he should move to a country that's not a democracy, where freedom of speech is [not] protected.

But besides that point, let's again look at the reality of global demand for all energy growing.  Coal, natural gas, renewables. Let's remind everyone that Canada is already a leader in wind, in hydro, in low-emission power generation. Let's remind everyone again that our standard quality of living and life expectancies have never been longer with as many people on the planet that we've never, more people living today than ever before. Let's also.

I'm curious, Peter. Half the world's agricultural production is made possible thanks to natural gas based fertilizer. How would you feed half the world's population without that natural gas? Natural gas, oil, keeps our hospitals functioning. With the advanced plastics. Natural gas and oil create thousands of products.

We've talked on the show before about you were thinking that your apartment wasn't made with oil and natural gas which is of course false. And in the winter, in Canada, in the winter around the world or in the summer when it's really hot, places that can't afford or don't have enough wind, when the wind is blowing, of course, how are they going to keep their air conditioning going to stay alive? How are we going to stay warm in the winter? Okay. There is no replacement today.

Mike: Peter, quick response from you. Go ahead.

Peter: There are plenty of places that run on almost fully renewable electricity grids including the place where we're having this conversation in British Columbia. Wind and solar are cheaper than fossil fuels.

They are rolling out at record pace all over the world including countries that have to keep people cool in the summer and warm in the winter. So we can do this and we have to do this.

This is the other part of the conversation. I don't think anyone can look at the state of the planet in the constant disasters battering our communities and think yeah, it's fine if this just keeps getting worse for the next few decades.

So yeah it's a challenge but I think we're up to it in the.

Mike: Ok, we continue our debate. Should fossil fuel advertising be banned just like tobacco advertising was banned?

Peter McCartney, Cody Battershill are my guests. Tons of phone calls here. George in Coquitlam. Hi George, go ahead.

George: Hi Mike, good show. Listen, I want to be respectful to your guests there. Listen, what's next? Are we going to ban milk commercials because of cows with methane gas?

And my question is I went to a heat pump to be more conservative to using energy. We froze in the last week or two. We could only get 72 degrees into our house which is roughly about 4000 square feet. Your guest there.

He's got too much time on his hands. I suggest that he put his energy into a different area. To ban something that heats our homes and drives our cars and this is just ridiculous. It's come to a point now that everything is wrong. I just suggest that your guest get a job or find something else.

Mike: Okay, well like you said let's be respectful and I'll go to Peter for his response. Peter go ahead.

Peter: Yeah, I mean there are lots of reasons why a heat pump might not be able to heat a 4000-square-foot house. Perhaps you should look at insulation, heat pumps work pretty well for everyone that I've talked to that's used them.

And so, yeah, I'm not really sure, this is my job. It's what I do nine to five, because I believe that the fate of this planet and the climate crisis is the most possibly important thing that we could be doing right now. And I wish your caller shared that concern.

Mike: Cody, you want to weigh in? Go ahead.

Cody: I sure do. Peter just made this point for me perfectly. So we have an Indigenous leader who said, quote, "We have no idea about the future that Angus and others have in mind. Perhaps they envision a country with homes heated by goodwill, transportation restricted to foot and bicycle, food transported by pack dogs, car-free roads paved only with good intentions, and government budgets funded by best wishes."

And Peter just told your guest that his technological solution won't work, but he should increase his insulation.

I would also just love to add that Japan's Prime Minister came to Canada and asked for LNG. We've got countries around the world asking for our energy.

Peter's actions, again, he needs to silence his critics because he can't hold the debate on the merit or the facts. So they need to silence anyone who supports Canadian energy.

Mike: Go ahead.

Peter: Can I talk about Japan for a moment?

Cody: I do have to say that our share of emissions is the same today as it was in 1906. Go ahead.

Peter: The Japanese think tank Climate Integrate has a fully practical and worked out plan to get to 100% renewable energy for Japan by 2035. Japanese environmental groups are criticizing their own government and working closely with folks in British Columbia because they are trying to promote fossil fuels even as the rest of the world has agreed to transition away from them. We all agreed on this.

Every country on earth, there's more consensus about transitioning away from fossil fuels than there is about just about any other global problem. And yet we still have people like Cody spending millions of dollars of oil industry money trying to pollute the public discourse and save their business model from the inevitable reality that it has to end.

Mike: Back to the phone calls. Carrie in Surrey. Hi, Carrie. Go ahead.

Carrie: Yes, I'm so glad you're having this conversation. First to your previous caller about cows. All you have to do is switch cows from grass fed to grain fed, and it reduces methane emissions by 20%.

And I live in the city of Surrey, where our garbage tracks are actually fuelled by food scraps using a biofuel facility, and the compost is used towards our agriculture.

The fact of the matter is there are solutions out there, but the oil and gas industry has dominated the conversation as to whether or not climate change is a threat. And we just saw Three Mountains just shut down in January because there wasn't enough snow.

We have the wine industry now. Their entire crops are destroyed because of climate change. We're about to have one of the worst years in drought, which is signalled by the mountain snow. We got to do something.

Is electric vehicles the be all, end all? No, but we need to stop having the conversation whether or not climate change is real. And what are we going to do to fix the current conditions?

Mike: Carrie, thank you for that call. Cody, would you like to respond to her? Go ahead.

Cody: I would love to. The oil and gas industry has recognized that reducing emissions is important, which is why the industry is investing to reach net zero. Peter is opposed to that.

We can also reduce global emissions. We can also reduce global emissions by exporting LNG and advancing small modular reactors. But Peter's against hydro and he's also against nuclear, and he's also against oil and natural gas. The reality is, I don't think he's against Peter.

Mike: You're against hydro?

Peter: No. There's plenty of applications where hydro makes a lot of sense.

Cody: I'm pretty sure Peter's been against Site C in the past. But regardless, we need to work together to support all of the above.

And your caller made some great examples of technologies that are additional and supplementary to everything else that we need. Peter…

Mike: Okay, Cody, I got to jump in there just for fairness. Guys, got 30 seconds left. Peter, so you get the last word. Go ahead.

Peter: So here's the thing exactly. With cows, there are all sorts of different technologies with all the different ways that we pollute, there are ways that we can reduce emissions. But the truth is, with fossil fuels, the only way that we can eliminate emissions from fossil fuels is by not burning them.

And that is exactly what the fossil fuel industry is spending millions of dollars to try and prevent from happening. And that is what needs to happen. And the whole world has agreed that it needs to happen in order for us to maintain a safe climate on this planet.

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