This letter to the editor was submitted by Ecojustice lawyer, Charles Hatt, in response to the Calgary Herald’s editorial, “Climate change and free speech“, published December 9, 2015

Re “Editorial: Climate change and free speech”

Honesty is the best policy. In science and economic competition, this principle holds true. Denier groups appear to misrepresent climate change science to confuse and deceive the public, not to engage in honest debate. Why? One likely motive is to protect fossil fuel business interests from cleaner, greener competition.

Freedom of speech applies to commercial speech, true. But it is equally true that you can’t lie and deceive to make a buck – that’s what the Competition Act protects us from. The courts have long held this is a necessary check on free speech.

By stoking doubt about the scientific consensus on climate change, denier groups help stall corrective market action away from carbon polluting business activities. In the words of a former tobacco executive whose front groups used the same strategy “doubt is their product.” When it comes to protecting the climate, we can’t afford manufactured doubt and inaction.

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