CTV cancels ad campaign under Saudi pressure
OTTAWA - Efforts to silence an advertising campaign about Saudi Arabian oil before it re-airs in Canada have succeeded in keeping the ads off CTV News Channel.QMI Agency has acquired an e-mail that indicates the broadcaster cancelled a booking for an Ethicaloil.org ad campaign that presents Saudi Arabian oil as an "unethical" energy choice.
"Our position should be that we are in receipt of notice of a legal dispute with respect to this spot and that, accordingly, we will not broadcast the spot until the legal dispute is resolved," reads the e-mail quoting CTV's legal department.
The ads have raised the ire of the Saudi government because they equate buying Saudi oil with helping fund a kingdom that oppresses women while presenting Alberta's oilsands as a more humane alternative.
Sun News Network continues to run the ads.
Saudi Arabia's government has hired a high-powered law firm to get the ads banned.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney shot back at the moves to silence the ads.
"Apparently (the Saudi) government has threatened Canadian broadcasters if they run a particular ad by a Canadian non-profit, non-governmental organization," Kenney said during a stop in Brampton, Ont. "Canada is a country that is a champion of freedom of speech. That is a constitutional right. And we don't take kindly to foreign governments threatening directly or indirectly Canadian broadcasters or media for giving voice to freedom of speech."
An industry insider has told QMI Agency the Saudi government has been asking around to find out who funds Ethicaloil.org.
Responding to inquiries, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers wouldn't confirm that it had been approached by Riyadh, but did make clear it doesn't fund the group.
Meantime, Tory MP Dean Allison, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, confirmed he'll ask MPs to look into how Saudi Arabia has reacted to the controversial campaign.
By Daniel Proussalidis
screenshot from TV ad
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