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Free speech is for losers

14 Feb 2024 | OP ED Watch

It’s just a private member’s bill. But a very revealing one. Canadian New Democratic Party MP Charlie Angus, not a man noted for holding his tongue, has introduced C-372, the “Fossil Fuel Advertising Act”, that would make it illegal to make true statements about fossil fuels if they were positive. Angus denies it, saying his intention is just to make it illegal for the companies to advocate for their perfectly legal product in perfectly factual ways, which is a distinction without a difference and would be disgraceful anyway. So he’s either lying or too incompetent at drafting and reading bills to function in a legislature. And he has no problem with anti-fossil-fuel groups making false statements, just with pro-fossil-fuel groups making true ones. Somewhere along the line open-minded inclusion turned into something very different and very nasty.

The bill is draconian. Although Angus typically called it the oil industry’s “big tobacco moment”, its actual text says “It is prohibited for a person to promote a fossil fuel, a fossil fuel-related brand element or the production of a fossil fuel”. And if you’re a bad person who thinks citizens of a free country can for instance claim that oil promotes prosperity, or even just that natural gas gives off fewer GHGs than coal per unit of energy generated (no, really; section 8 makes it illegal for someone to argue that a fossil fuel is “less harmful than other fossil fuels”), well, you could get a summary conviction and half-million-dollar fine. Or if you’re a company, two years in jail and a million-dollar fine.

Of course few private members’ bills pass and Angus’s party holds few seats, though it also holds the balance of power in the current minority parliament and continually props up the Liberals while NDP leader Jagmeet Singh pillories them as the puppets of plutocrats. But that’s a topic for another day.

The topic for today is that Angus’s idea of generosity is that, as Tristin Hopper notes in the National Post:

“Angus allows that movies, plays and musical performances would be allowed to ‘use or depict fossil fuels’ or even show ‘the production of fossil fuels’ – provided that the creator can prove that they have no links to an entity that ‘has as one of its purposes to promote fossil fuels.’”

One wonders whether politicians are also allowed to use fossil fuels, given that the Canadian government did buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline for $4.5 billion in 2018 and has since managed to lose vast sums, the current predicted cost of completion of the expansion project having hit $30.9 billion, precisely to move fossil fuels from Alberta to British Columbia and thence overseas.

One does not however wonder what MPs such as Angus would say if a Conservative MP proposed criminalizing criticism of fossil fuels. Or what he would say if in the harsh winters typical of northern Ontario his constituents were unable to obtain crucial [name of product deleted] to heat their homes, cook their food and power their vehicles.

If you scratch a social justice warrior, including one obsessed with climate, you’re liable to wound someone who holds ordinary people and their rights in contempt. Thus Popular Science reprints a bleat from Grist about:

“Why people still fall for fake news about climate change/ It was the hottest year on Earth in 125,000 years, and #climatescam is taking off.”

See, it’s not a matter of people having different opinions. It’s about fools being suckered. And Charlie Angus knows just what to do about it. Pity about your free speech but then you were too stupid to use it properly anyway.

4 comments on “Free speech is for losers”

  1. Isn't it amazing how elected sociopaths, employing the sanctity of pseudo-green theocracy, so easily revert to authoritarianism. That more than 90% of humanity owe their survival to modernity based on hydrocarbons and those that could survive in their absence would enjoy short and miserable lives in pre-industrial squalor. Only in some morally inverted green hell could such vitriol pass as governance.

  2. Just the height of stupidity by MP Angus.His northern Ontario constituents would suffer the most without fossil fuels.You can see why the NDP
    never be the Government.Though they can hold the balance of power like they do now,propping up the Lie-berals.Anyone still think that the NDP
    is not the next thing to Communism?

  3. Would Charlie's law require one to scrub the internet of any content that promotes fossil fuels that might every have been posted (and still remains on the interwebs)? It's absurd if it does, and absurd if it doesn't. Lesson in there.

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