by Lorrie Goldstein • Toronto Sun
It’s like something out of George Orwell’s 1984.
Canada’s Competition Bureau, an arm’s length agency funded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to the tune of almost $50 million annually, investigated three organizations accused of denying mainstream climate science for over a year, following a complaint from an environmental group.
The bureau discontinued its 14-month probe in June, citing “available evidence, the assessment of the facts in this case, and to ensure the effective allocation of limited resources”, according to Josephine A.L. Palumbo, Deputy Commissioner of Competition, Deceptive Marketing Practices Directorate.
But it will re-open its investigation should it receive relevant new information from the public.
The complaint was filed by Ecojustice on behalf of six “prominent” Canadians, including former Ontario NDP leader and UN ambassador Stephen Lewis.
It accused three groups, Friends of Science, the International Climate Science Coalition, and the Heartland Institute of making false and misleading claims about climate change, including that the sun is the main driver of climate change, not carbon dioxide, and that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.
When it launched its complaint in December, 2015, Ecojustice told the National Observer it would press the Commissioner of Competition to refer the matter to the Attorney-General of Canada for “criminal charges against the denier groups”.
In response to the Competition Bureau discontinuing its probe, Calgary-based Friends of Science said on its blog that: “The Competition Bureau is a very important enforcement agency. We regret that any of their time had to be wasted on this matter. We are not a commercial entity, we do not have federal lobbyists, we are not tax-subsidized as environmental charities are, we do not represent any industry. We only present the professional insights and expertise of our core team and represent the views of our individual members (not corporations). The typical process for Competition Bureau inquiries is confidential; Ecojustice appeared to use this call for inquiry to grandstand.”
In May, 2015, Advertising Standards Canada, a voluntary industry group that does not enforce its decisions other than through public suasion ruled, following 96 public complaints, that two Friends of Science billboards in Montreal stating: “The Sun is the Main Driver of Climate Change. Not You. Not CO2” contained, “categorical and unequivocal claims … (that) could not be supported by the preponderance of current evidence on the matters in dispute … (and) omitted relevant information, namely that a number of factors have led to climate change, of which the sun is just one.”
As someone who has written extensively on climate change for a decade, my view is that all of this is madness. We are entering into dangerous territory, a fundamental attack on free speech.
If we’re going to use agencies of the federal government to investigate and even prosecute “climate deniers”, for making “false and misleading claims” then let’s damn well do the same for “climate alarmists”, who do the same thing all the time.
I read and hear politicians making “false and misleading claims” about climate change almost daily, particularly with regard to what federal and provincial carbon pricing schemes will actually accomplish, as opposed to what our governments are claiming they will accomplish.
But the way to decide these issues is through public debate, not running to an agency of the federal government to shut up people we disagree with, particularly a government that itself makes false and misleading claims about man-made climate change all the time.