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CAPP Statement: Bill C-59 Competition Act Amendments Effectively Muzzles Canadian Businesses

Calgary, Alberta (June 20, 2024)

Statement from Lisa Baiton, CAPP President & CEO:

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) has worked diligently to be the source of non-partisan and credible information about Canada’s upstream oil and natural gas industry supported by the values of transparency, accuracy, and data with veracity. 

CAPP is extremely disappointed with, and opposed to, the Competition Act’s amendments related to environmental representations with respect to the benefits of a business or business activity included in Bill C-59.

Debates around the environment and environmental policy are some of the most important issues facing Canadians today. Parliament’s approach with this legislation and its threat of very significant penalties will curtail the ability of many Canadians to participate in debates around climate and environmental policy. The effect of this legislation is to silence the energy industry and those that support it in an effort to clear the field of debate and to promote the voices of those most opposed to Canada’s energy industry.

Buried deep into an omnibus bill and added at a late stage of Committee review, these amendments have been put forward without consultation, clarity on guidelines, or the standards that must be met to achieve compliance. As a result, businesses across Canada are being put at significant risk for communicating their efforts to reduce their impact on the environment.

The burden of proof provision included in the amendments means those making the complaint face no risk or accountability. Rather, the burden falls entirely on companies to justify how the comments they have made on public policy issues like climate and the environment accord with the newly introduced and nebulous “internationally recognized methodology”.

The amendments also empower private parties to compel companies to appear before the Competition Tribunal to defend themselves. This radical shift from current practice, where only the Competition Bureau enforces misleading advertising laws, opens the floodgates for frivolous, resource-draining complaints.

The ambiguity of these amendments to the Competition Act coupled with very significant penalties for violating these provisions, effectively prevents not only CAPP, but any business that wants to communicate its environmental efforts, from having important discussions with Canadians.

As a result, CAPP has chosen to reduce the amount of information it makes available on its website and other digital platforms until the Competition Bureau has released further guidance on how these amendments will be implemented.

CAPP will continue to support its members in their drive to lower emissions and it is our hope the Competition Bureau will undertake the consultation with Canadians and Canadian businesses that has not been done. In the implementation of these amendments, there needs to be a pathway that enables businesses to communicate their efforts to reduce their impact on the environment, their goals for the future, and their performance against those goals.

About CAPP

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is a non-partisan, research-based industry association that advocates on behalf of our member companies, large and small, that explore for, develop, and produce oil and natural gas throughout Canada. Our associate members provide a wide range of services that support the upstream industry. 

CAPP’s members produce nearly three quarters of Canada’s annual oil and natural gas production and provide approximately 450,000 direct and indirect jobs in nearly all regions of Canada. According to the most recently published data, the industry contributes over $70 billion to Canada’s GDP, as well as $45 billion in taxes and royalties to governments across the country. CAPP is a solution-oriented partner and works with all levels of government to ensure a thriving Canadian oil and natural gas industry. 

We strive to meet the need for safe, reliable, affordable, and responsibly produced energy, for Canada and the world. We are proud to amplify industry efforts to reduce GHG emissions from oil and gas production and support Indigenous participation and prosperity.