- “Brazen act of domestic political interference” revealed by EthicalOil.org
- EthicalOil.org alerts Government, Parliament
TORONTO, CANADA – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, an oil rich dictatorship, has moved to censor a Canadian television ad that educates Canadian consumers about the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia and the role played by Saudi oil exports in enabling this oppression. The ad can be viewed here.
“This is a brazen act of domestic political interference by a foreign dictatorship that neither understands nor respects the rights of women or freedom of speech,” said Alykhan Velshi, executive director of EthicalOil.org, a grassroots advocacy organization that educates consumers about their choice between ethical oil from Canada’s oil sands and conflict oil from dictatorships like Saudi Arabia. “Each time we buy Saudi conflict oil we are funding their oppression – and now their attempts at Saudi-style censorship of Canadian TV. This is the ad Saudi Arabia doesn’t want Canadians to see.”
On September 6, 2011, Telecaster Services from the Television Bureau of Canada, the advertising review and clearance service funded by Canada’s private broadcasters, notified EthicalOil.org that it had received a cease and desist letter from lawyers for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia demanding that approval for EthicalOil.org’s ad be withdrawn. Telecaster Services had approved the ethical oil spot on August 18, 2011 and the ad subsequently ran and completed its run of schedule on the Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada).
The cease and desist letter was sent by Norton Rose, a global law firm with Canadian offices. Norton Rose attorney Rahool Agarwal has confirmed his representation of Saudi Arabia to EthicalOil.org’s legal counsel. Despite repeated requests Norton Rose has refused to provide ethicaloil.org’s legal counsel with the material sent to the Telecaster on behalf of the Saudi dictatorship.
In response to the Saudi dictatorship’s move, EthicalOil.org is taking the following actions:
- The ad has been put back on the air. Starting today the Sun News Network is airing the spot.
- Velshi has written to His Excellency Osamah A. Al Sanosi Ahmad, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador in Canada, informing him the ad has been put back on the air and challenging him to a televised debate about the ad and its contents.
- Velshi has alerted Foreign Minister John Baird and Dean Allison, Chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade about the incident in writing, calling on the government and the parliamentary committee to investigate a foreign dictatorship trying to censor what Canadians can and cannot see on their televisions.
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