Saudi Arabia is upset over television commercials that promote Canada's "ethical oil," in contrast to oil coming from Saudi Arabia, a regime that oppresses women.
The commercials are sponsored by a tiny grassroots organization based in Toronto, EthicalOil.org, which encourages consumers to favour "ethical" oil from Canada over "conflict" oil that comes from undemocratic regimes, where most of the world's oil reserves are located.
EthicalOil.org ran the commercials on the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada in late August. The Saudis responded by hiring lawyers to tell the Television Bureau of Canada, the advertising review and clearance service funded by Canada's private broadcasters, to withdraw approval of the ads.
The group was so outraged by the Saudis' "intimidation tactics" it started running the commercials again this week on the Sun News Network and was planning to run them on CTV, until the network backed out, said Alykhan Velshi, executive director of EthicalOil.org.
CTV's director of communications, Matthew Garrow, e-mailed the Financial Post that CTV News Channel received an order for an ad from Ethical Oil: "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 statement said.