Timber Giant’s $7 million SLAPP lawsuit aims to gag Greenpeace
by Richard Brooks
June 20, 2013
Backed by a growing number of social justice, freedom of speech and environmental organizations from both sides of the border critical of Resolutes lawsuit, Greenpeace characterized the lawsuit filed on 23 May as a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). A SLAPP seeks to intimidate and silence civil society groups by burdening them with mounting legal costs associated with a legal defense.
This is an attempt by a multinational, multibillion dollar corporation to quash public discussion about, and comment upon, its operations in Canadas Endangered Forests, said Richard Brooks, Forest campaign coordinator with Greenpeace Canada. Resolutes lawsuit is a bullying tactic meant to gag its critics, but we will vigorously defend ourselves. We will not be silenced.
Facing increased scrutiny and criticism from a range of environmentalists and First Nations over their logging operations, Resolute filed the lawsuit just two days after seven environmental organizations severed discussions with the company under the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. A week earlier on 15 May, the Grand Council of the Crees also filed an international appeal to one of Resolutes Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificates in Quebec.
Free speech and robust advocacy on matters of clear public interest are fundamental rights in a democratic society. Environmental organizations, Indigenous peoples and civil society must be free to contribute to public debate without fear of outrageous lawsuits and other intimidation tactics.
At a time when many companies are embracing social responsibility and sustainability as part of doing business, it is deeply regrettable that Resolute is turning to the courts rather than dealing with the very real threats to the forest being caused by its operations, said Brooks. This lawsuit risks a chilling effect on public debate of Canadas forest and other matters of clear public interest.
Greenpeace notes that in Quebec, where Resolute is headquartered and primarily operates, its 2009 anti-SLAPP legislation would have likely prevented this type of suit from being successful.
The success of anti-SLAPP law in Quebec should inspire the Ontario government to quickly pass into law strong legislation to prevent multinationals like Resolute from using this attack against freedom of speech, said Andr Belisle, President of L’Association qubcoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphrique and former SLAPP victim.
Once again we see a company using the courts to silence an organization who does valuable work to defend our forests and our right to information, concluded lodie Comtois from ditions cosocit and a SLAPP victim. Ontario should urgently implement anti-SLAPP legislation in order to protect freedom of expression for organizations and citizens on matters of public interest.
Greenpeace recently revealed that Resolute has breached more forestry laws and regulations in Quebec than any other company over the past decade, accumulating over $1.2 million in fines. The organizations says it will to continue to inform Canadian on what is happening in the public forests of Quebec and Ontario, and promote sustainable and healthy ecosystems and communities.
What Resolute needs to do is suspend operations in Endangered Forests and work collaboratively with Greenpeace and others to complete conservation and protected areas plans based on independent science. We can create solutions that ensure wood goes to mills and supports healthy communities while protecting key areas of forest and wildlife habitat. We have done it elsewhere. We can do it here.
We will not be silenced.
Organizations supporting Greenpeace include: Alternatives, Association qubcoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphrique (AQLPA),Centre Qubcois du droit de lenvironnement, ditions cosocit, Ligue des Droits et Liberts, Nature Qubec, Rseau Qubcois des Groupes cologistes (RQGE) and Rainforest Action Network.