We have become used to climate-change warriors saying the science is settled, then trying to shut down debate by calling those who disagree with them ‘deniers,’ who don’t deserve a hearing. But Greenpeace has now gone one better. It’s trying to ensure a forest company that does deserve a hearing, because it’s suing them for defamation, doesn’t get it in Canada. In its dealings with Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products, Greenpeace certainly has a case to answer. It has been at war with the company for more than five years, branding Resolute the ‘Forest Destroyer’ and successfully persuading mass-marketer Best Buy to drop them as a supplier.
In particular, Greenpeace has accused Resolute of ‘destroying endangered forests’ and ‘causing the destruction of endangered species’. (Resolute is also suing Greenpeace in the U.S., but Greenpeace has criticized the company’s Canadian operations.)
There is plenty more, including a charge that Resolute’s logging operations ‘impaired the ability of the Boreal forest, to mitigate climate change.’ Resolute notes that it has planted a billion trees. How many trees has Greenpeace planted?
No wonder Resolute wants its day in court. Yet, lawyers for Greenpeace are telling the Ontario Supreme Court that Resolute’s action is ‘vexatious.’ Possibly they take inspiration from the Wynne government’s so-called ‘Anti-SLAPP legislation’ – anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Greenpeace lawyers also argue that allowing Resolute to proceed in Canada would be an abuse of process because Resolute has brought a similar lawsuit in the U.S. Anything’s possible. But, Resolute’s suit is anything but vexatious.
In fact, it’s time somebody stood up to Greenpeace. Notwithstanding the supreme confidence Greenpeace places in its self-declared moral superiority, it has published false statements about Resolute. For example, it has already had to walk back and publish a retraction concerning its false allegations that Resolute had cut trees in an area it had promised to spare. Meanwhile, the company’s own website offers a comprehensive refutation. It deserves the consideration of a court. We should draw two conclusions from all this.
First, it’s irritating for a group that boasts of escorting Jane Fonda around the oilsands, to present themselves as humble litigants, facing ‘overwhelming litigation costs.’ Don’t kid yourself. Greenpeace is a money mill. Greenpeace Canada alone, last year received donations of more than $12 million. Worldwide, Greenpeace International raked in a staggering $337 million. If it’s accused of using its enormous clout irresponsibly, Greenpeace can afford to defend itself in court.
Second, the case has incredible implications beyond the players involved. Just suppose Greenpeace could persuade a court to dismiss Resolute’s case unheard because its allegations against Resolute were so well-conceived and so demonstrably in the public interest that they did not deserve to be challenged. Would not other advocacy groups make the same kind of claim?
There are people who won’t vaccinate their children, or who think the state has no business enforcing its teachings on sexuality in grade school. Many Canadians think climate change is a naturally occurring process to which humans contribute little. Not everybody supports a smoking ban, everywhere. We don’t have to agree with them. But they deserve protection against libel.
So, we don’t want a Canada where some orthodoxy was so established that those who held it could attack your livelihood with impunity, as Greenpeace now claims the right to do with Resolute. They say they speak in the name of science and public participation. But anybody who demands their own exclusive corner on truth, leaves both behind. And they take us to a much darker place, where whoever’s in power could use the law to suppress dissent. Greenpeace must answer in court, for what it says about those it attacks.