Pot Calls Kettle Black: Saudi Government Sues Over Canadian Ethical Oil Ads
Those clever shills for the tar sands industry, EthicalOil.org, have been running ads on the Oprah Winfrey Show and other networks that claim that by buying Saudi oil, "We've bankrolled a state that doesn't allow women to drive and that doesn't allow them to leave their homes or work without their male guardian's permission." (Brian enjoyed them here)
The ads would have got the attention they deserved, had the Saudis not made a big mistake: They sued.
According to The Globe and Mail,
Lawyers from the international law firm Norton Rose LLP sent "cease and desist" letters to the national advertising watchdog, as well as to media companies, warning about potential legal action. Bell Media, which owns CTV, confirmed it had been informed by the Saudis of a legal dispute over the commercial, and cancelled plans to run it.
"As the ad in question is the subject of a legal dispute between Ethical Oil and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at the advisement of our legal department we will not accept the order until the matter is resolved," the company said in a statement.
The government, which is big on the ethical oil thing, is outraged.
"Canada is a country that is a champion of freedom of speech. That is a constitutional right," the Immigration Minister said. "And we don't take kindly to foreign governments threatening directly or indirectly Canadian broadcasters or media for giving voice to freedom of speech. We think that's inappropriate and certainly inconsistent with Canada's belief in freedom of speech.
The Saudis would have done a lot better just to let the commercials run instead of sending a cease and desist notice, EthicalOil has just reaped priceless free publicity; what was a stupid ad that nobody would have paid attention to is now an international incident. But the Saudis have a point; There is freedom of speech in Canada, but there are also rules about truth in advertising. As Advertising Standards Canada says, Dressing it up doesn't make it true.
And when it comes to dressing it up, Alykhan Velshi of Ethical Oil outdoes Ernie Coombs. (A sort of Captain Kangaroo for Canadian kids)
Rule number 1 of the advertising standards is:
Advertisements must not contain inaccurate or deceptive claims, statements, illustrations or representations, either direct or implied, with regard to a product or service. In assessing the truthfulness and accuracy of a message, the concern is not with the intent of the sender or precise legality of the presentation. Rather, the focus is on the message as received or perceived, i.e. the general impression conveyed by the advertisement.
But Ethical Oil, as Brian so delicately and eloquently put it,
It's complete and utter bullshit. It's the kind of bullshit that is so excruciatingly and self-evidently bullshit that it extracts a primal reaction from the depths of your animal soul.
And then he gets angry. Read more in TreeHugger.
See also: Canada's Ethical Oil Tar Sands Campaign Really Says 'Stay Addicted To Oil'
Canada's New Environment Minister's Job: Shill The Tar Sands as "Ethical Oil"
Critics Respond To Canadian Government's Shilling of Tar Sands as "Ethical Oil"