FORT ST. JOHN -- A bill introduced in House of Commons by Ontario MP Charlie Angus making it illegal for oil and gas companies to advertise across Canada is garnering stiff reaction here in the Peace Region.

The Fossil Fuel Advertising Act introduced on February 5th, 2024, aims to prohibit the promotion of fossil fuels, and is being hailed as ‘the tobacco moment’ for Canada’s oil and gas sector.

"A corporation doesn't have the free speech to lie to you about their product," said Angus.

Angus says the bill is about corporate responsibility, and that it was brought to him by doctors who have growing concerns about pollution-related deaths due to rising emissions, and the impact of climate fires.

"Given the climate crisis and the fires that we're seeing in our region and across the country, we need to say to big oil-- you guys have had a free ride of misinformation for too long," said Angus in an interview with CJDC-TV.

The bill will target oil and gas companies who use front groups to make false claims about the climate and health impacts of fossil fuels with hefty fines and possible imprisonment for false promotion.

MP Bob Zimmer has spoken out against the bill, calling it an infringement of free speech, a claim that Angus argues is another example of a Conservative political tactic known as ‘rage farming.’

“What we've seen from the big oil lobby and particularly from the conservatives is their rage farming-- I think he's thinking that people who listen to him are dummies and Canadians aren't dummies. They know that we have very strong free speech rules in this country,” said Angus.

Since the announcement of Bill C-372, the federal Conservative party has launched an online petition calling for the repeal of the bill, claiming the bill will “prescribe jail time for Canadians who speak positively about the oil and gas industry in Canada.”  

The bill and subsequent petition led to Angus receiving death threats.

“To tell them that they're going to be jailed for liking oil and gas or for being a worker, and we get death threats—that’s happening in Canada—that’s the Donald Trump kind of politics,” said Angus.

“When did it become okay in Canada to start threatening people with death because they represented a different point of view?” Questioned Angus.

He argues it is dangerous to misinform people, especially for politicians that are in positions of power.

“I’ve never had a death threat in my 20 years until the last three years, and now we keep track of them,” said Angus.

City Councillor for the City of Fort St. John Trevor Bolin argues that the federal government is way outside their realm when it comes to understanding issues facing the oil and gas industry.

“I wish that people that didn’t understand the industry—I wish they would come and take the time and learn and see for themselves,” said Bolin.

In Fort St. John, non-profit groups and sports leagues including the Huskies receive sponsorship from the city’s oil and gas sector, the bill would still allow for donations to receive tax credits, but any promotion would be banned.

"I don't think you're going to see resource companies, oil and gas companies pull back on their support of local sports,” said Bolin.

Bolin argues that Justin Trudeau sees Alberta as the only province that is effected by oil and gas, saying the prime minister's distaste for Alberta has led to Northern B.C. becoming collateral damage.

“If oil and gas companies can’t do their own marketing and can’t champion the things that they do, I think we as residents start to do that,” said Bolin.

Bolin says there are benefits to oil and gas advertising when it comes to highlighting the progress the industry has made over the last 30 years, calling the bill a part of Trudeau’s agenda.

 “What Justin Trudeau and his ministers don't understand is that these oil and gas companies, that he's so against, are our neighbours, they’re our family, they’re our friends-- he tries to paint them as this bad picture against climate change, said Bolin.

"We're not effecting anyone's jobs here, we're just saying the days of using this as a front while not addressing the clear health and climate issues-- that's what we're going to go after," said Angus. 

The bill has yet to be passed in the House of Commons.