Promoting Canada’s oil and gas sector could get you thrown in the slammer if a New Democrat MP gets his way.

NDP MP Charlie Angus has tabled a private member’s bill in the House of Commons that would ban fossil fuel ads. Anyone who violates the ban could be fined up to $1.5 million or sent to jail for up to two years.

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment began pushing for a fossil fuel ad ban two years ago. The organization helped Angus draft the bill. 

Bill C-372’s preamble states that “climate change represents an unprecedented and existential threat to people in Canada and around the world.”

The bill prohibits any person from promoting a fossil fuel, a fossil fuel-related brand element or the production of a fossil fuel. Exceptions are made for media reporting and artistic representations where there is no commercial interest.

It also forbids any advertising that is likely to create an erroneous impression about the characteristics, health or environmental effects or health or environmental hazards of the fossil fuel, its production or the emissions that result from its production or use.

Any producer that contravenes this aspect of the bill is subject to a fine of up to $1.5 million and up to two years in jail, or both. 

Individuals are subject to a fine of $750,000 for “falsely” promoting fossil fuels. 

The bill specifically prohibits advertising claiming that “the practices of a producer or of the fossil fuel industry would lead to positive outcomes in relation to the environment, the health of Canadians, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples or the Canadian or global economy.” This could conceivably prevent Indigenous communities from promoting resource development projects.

Anyone who disobeys this section of the bill is subject to a fine of up to $500,000 and two years in prison, or both. 

Energy investor Eric Nuttall said that he might have to start his own GoFundMe page to cover inevitable fines if this bill passes in a post to X.

“The Canadian oil & gas sector has much to be proud of, yet this Bill would make it ILLEGAL and subject to up to 2 years in jail / $1MM fine to promote our industry’s successes, or even state the obvious fact that LNG is a cleaner energy source than coal!”

Section 9 of the bill forbids producers or retailers from offering any incentives for buying fossil fuels, such as gifts, bonuses, cash rebates, or opportunities to participate in lotteries or contests. 

Violating this will land a producer a fine of up to $500,000, up to two years in prison, or both.

Representatives of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and other medical professionals joined Angus at a news conference on Tuesday to announce the bill.

Angus said that oil and gas lobbyists have spent billions over the last 60 years suppressing evidence of the damage they are knowingly doing to the planet.

“Now that the planet is on fire, they’re shifting their propaganda with false claims of producing cleaner products — claiming they can be part of the climate solution. That’s like (tobacco company) Benson and Hedges telling you that they can help end lung cancer,” Angus said.

The bill’s preamble mentions that in 2023, Canada experienced the worst wildfire season ever recorded, as the country exceeded the largest area ever burned in a year, totalling more than 7.9 million hectares.

Each of Angus and the other four speakers mentioned Canada’s unprecedented wildfire season last year, linking the uptick to fossil fuels.

Neither the bill nor the speakers mentioned the fact that the vast majority of fires were human-caused. The number of fires caused naturally has been relatively stagnant, while human-caused fires have increased dramatically. 

Alberta Energy Minister Brian Jean said in a post on X that Angus is trying to compete with Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the “new self-declared fossil fuel sheriff in town.” 

Guilbeault has been steadfast in his goal of achieving a net-zero power grid by 2035. 

Leah Temper, campaign director for the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment’s fossil fuel ad ban campaign, spoke at the news conference with Angus and claimed that there is no such thing as net zero. 

“Oil can never be net zero because 80% or more of the life cycle emissions are released when oil is burned,” she said. 

It may soon be illegal to call any emissions net zero as it would violate section 8 (b), which prohibits any suggestion that a fossil fuel’s emissions can be less harmful than another.