Trade Unions Confront Greenpeace on Job Destruction, Indifference

 
 

Trade unions representing workers across Quebec spoke out passionately about the economic damage and threats to jobs being caused by Greenpeace’s irresponsible attacks and unwillingness to engage with their communities.  

In a group statement, saying they are “deeply distressed by the approach taken by Greenpeace," the Confederation of National Trade Unions was represented at a press conference by the National Union of Pulp and Paper Workers of Alma, the Central Council of National Unions of Saguenay-Lac St-Jean, and the Manufacturing Industry Federation. Each of the unions denounced Greenpeace’s campaign that spreads misinformation about the boreal forest, and decried the group’s repeated indifference to appeals for dialogue with those communities that are being harmed.

In a public statement just weeks ago, Greenpeace admitted that the damage is real and ongoing. “We are troubled by the recent job losses…in the forest industry which affect workers and their families,” the group claimed. “We know that the men and women in the forest industry must be at the discussion table [and] we do want to talk to the…workers who know the conditions on the ground best.”

Those “workers who know the conditions on the ground best” are well aware that the boreal forest is in no way endangered, that Canada’s deforestation rate is virtually zero, and that less than 0.2% of the Canadian boreal is harvested each year – ten times less than what is disturbed annually by natural causes such as forest fires and disease. Those workers could also demonstrate that Resolute is a responsible forest manager, operating along with other Canadian forest products companies in a highly regulated environment and adhering to internationally recognized forest management and chain of custody standards.

Forestry workers are not defending their livelihoods at the expense of the environment – after all, wood is a renewable resource, and the long-term future of our communities depends on the sustainability of the forest. But these facts do not fit into Greenpeace’s misleading narrative.

Jean-Pierre Lebel, President of the National Union of Pulp and Paper Workers of Alma, refuted Greenpeace’s posturing. "This is a pretty critical situation,” he remarked. "I do not think Greenpeace cares about the workers or the region when it comes to this issue.”  

Manufacturing Industry Federation President Mathieu Lafleur added, “Greenpeace should stop attacking workers. There are 280 employees here who could end up losing their jobs. Families could be swept away by these potential job losses.” Mr. Lafleur also said that he had reached out to Greenpeace repeatedly to discuss the situation but he never heard back.  

Engelbert Cottenoir, Chairman of the Central Council of National Unions of Saguenay-Lac St-Jean, reiterated the harm being caused, saying that “280 honest workers and an entire region already suffering from various cutbacks will pay the price.”  

The unions also took specific aim at Greenpeace’s recent efforts to intimidate book publishers. “We denounce this boycotting campaign [and] the members of the union will end up being the primary victims,” said Mr. Lebel. “If Resolute’s customers boycott paper produced in Alma, it would significantly and very quickly weaken the production of the mill’s two paper machines. Hundreds of full-time, well-paid jobs could be lost. [That’s why] we would like to bring the negative impact of Greenpeace’s actions to light.”  

Greenpeace’s unwillingness to meet or even dialogue with the unions is part of an ongoing pattern. For years, many thousands of citizens in Canada’s Boreal region have reached out to Greenpeace, expressing their concerns by phone, on social media, during large public demonstrations, and through direct letters. How has Greenpeace responded to this avalanche of heartfelt appeals about the real harm they have caused? They have simply ignored them.   

Responding to Le Monde 

On May 20, 2017 the French publication Le Monde ran a story that parroted a number of misleading points that appear to be taken uncritically from Greenpeace publicity material.  The reporter, Paris-based environmental beat writer Patricia Jolly, slanted the piece by showcasing a Greenpeace “report” that actually presents no new information and merely rehashes the many distortions and falsehoods that have littered their irresponsible attacks on Resolute for years.   

We have debunked or answered every specific charge in the document, as we have detailed in this public post that preceded the Le Monde article.  And in each case we have done so in full, transparent view of the public and the many stakeholders in the Boreal.  To what result?  Numerous credible outlets that have investigated our dispute with Greenpeace and its allies — from the Wall Street Journalto the Washington Post to the National Post to Enquête — have raised questions concerning the group’s mischaracterizations of the facts, its questionable tactics, its underlying motives, or all of the above. 

We tried to reach out to the paper’s editors to publish our letter of response.  That request too was ignored.  We are presenting the letter here in full.  (Original in French, translated in English).

 

Letter to the Editor 
Le Monde

A recent article in Le Monde [Un forestier canadien veut « bâillonner » Greenpeace] misleads readers about the nature of our litigation, and overlooks Greenpeace’s hypocrisy on free speech issues. 

Greenpeace’s attacks on Resolute go far beyond simply voicing an opinion.  As our legal filings document, Greenpeace has spent years on a campaign of public misrepresentations about our forestry practices. 

When Greenpeace and allies were forced to account for their claims in court, they started changing their tune. Their condemnations of our forestry practices “do not hew to strict literalism or scientific precision,” as they concede in their legal filings. Their accusations against Resolute were instead “hyperbole,” “heated rhetoric,” and “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion” that should not be taken “literally” or expose them to any legal liability.  

Now Greenpeace would like to claim they are free speech martyrs. But freedom of speech is not what is at issue here. As Greenpeace itself puts it on their web site: “Freedom of speech does not apply to misinformation and propaganda.” While we wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, your readers deserve to know Greenpeace doesn’t seem to think it applies to their own conduct.  

Sincerely, 
Richard Garneau, President and CEO of Resolute Forest Products

 

Tribune libre 
Le Monde

Un article récemment paru dans Le Monde [Un forestier canadien veut « bâillonner » Greenpeace] induit les lecteurs en erreur quant à la nature de notre litige avec Greenpeace, et ne tient pas compte de sa position hypocrite sur la question de la liberté d’expression.

Les offensives de Greenpeace vont bien au-delà de la simple opinion. Comme l’attestent nos documents juridiques déposés en cour, Greenpeace pratique depuis des années une campagne de désinformation publique à propos de nos pratiques forestières – elle usurpe l’identité de nos employés, attaque le site Web de nos clients et harcèle les entreprises avec lesquelles nous traitons, les menaçant entre autres d’une campagne de dénigrement semblable. Voilà les graves infractions qui nous ont obligés à intenter une poursuite en justice.

Lorsque Greenpeace et ses alliés ont été contraints de rendre compte de leurs déclarations en cour, ils ont commencé à changer de discours. Leurs condamnations de nos pratiques forestières « n’ont respecté ni la littéralité ni la précision scientifique », comme ils le concèdent dans les documents juridiques qu’ils ont déposés en cour. Leurs accusations contre Résolu étaient plutôt des « hyperboles », de la « rhétorique enflammée » et des « énoncés d’opinions subjectives non vérifiables » ne devant pas être pris dans « leur sens littéral » ni entraîner leur responsabilité juridique. 

Greenpeace prétend maintenant qu’elle est une martyre de la liberté d’expression. Mais il n’est pas question ici de liberté d’expression. Comme le dit elle-même Greenpeace sur son site Web : « La liberté d’expression ne s’applique pas à la désinformation ni à la propagande ». Bien que nous soyons entièrement d’accord avec cet énoncé, vos lecteurs méritent de savoir que Greenpeace ne semble pas penser qu’il s’applique à sa propre conduite. 

Sincèrement, 
Richard Garneau, président et chef de la direction de Produits forestiers Résolu

Responding to Misleading, Erroneous Article in the Guardian

A piece in the British paper Guardian about our litigation begins with a significant error.  None of the publishers that Greenpeace has attempted to harass has used the word “dangerous” to describe our position in the matter, as the headline falsely indicates.  

Instead, that’s a characterization cribbed from Greenpeace’s own publicity material which the reporter, Danuta Kean, parroted without any skepticism.  Had she reviewed Greenpeace’s actual legal filings, Kean would have learned that Greenpeace admits that its public statements about Resolute are “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion [and] not intended to be taken literally.”  

Public statements from those same publishers in recent days that support Resolute’s “right to defend one’s reputation,” as one put it, was also withheld from readers.  So too was the fact that more than one publishing house complained that Greenpeace had misrepresented their views.  An article in Publishers Weekly (that preceded the Guardian on the story by a week) took note of those points. 

Also ignored in the Guardian’s article are the many thousands of citizens across Canada’s Boreal region that have reached out to Greenpeace, asking for a halt to the misinformation that is threatening the livelihoods of their communities.  Those people who work and live in the Boreal have expressed their concerns by phone, on social media, during large public demonstrations, as well as through direct letters.  While Greenpeace spent its resources traveling cross-country to harass book publishers, how did the group respond to the avalanche of heartfelt appeals about the real harm they have caused?  Had Danuta Kean reached out, she would have heard the simple answer: Greenpeace has ignored them. 

Readers would be right to wonder therefore why the Guardian repackaged dated news, hiding facts from readers, and borrowing so obviously from Greenpeace publicity material.  

Additional Points About an Article in Publishers Weekly

The venerated trade magazine Publishers Weekly posted an article on June 16 about recent attempts by Greenpeace to intimidate the publishing industry. The misleading tactics described in the piece are in line with a years-long pattern by Greenpeace of public misrepresentations about our forestry practices.

Our dedication to responsible practices also extends to our many stakeholders – not least our business customers – and especially the communities where we work and live and our conscientious employees. By its own accounting, Greenpeace cheerfully claims it has caused more than $100 million in economic damage. They have also admitted to falsifying staged photos and video about our forestry practices.

When finally pressed to justify itself now that we have brought them to court, Greenpeace conceded that its claims about Resolute “do not hew to strict literalisms or scientific precision” and instead are “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion and at most…rhetorical hyperbole…not intended to be taken literally.” That sounds like what a publisher might call “fiction.”

Here are several points that give additional context to the reporting by Publishers Weekly:

Greenpeace’s claims about free speech ring hollow since Greenpeace has been enthusiastically on the side opposing free expression in the two biggest legal cases in U.S. courts in recent years. That position stands against the ACLU, Free Speech Defense & Education Fund, Institute for Justice, AFL-CIO, California First Amendment Coalition, and dozens of groups across the political spectrum.

Readers would be right to ask how Greenpeace squares this apparent contradiction. One answer comes right from the group’s own website, where they justify their stance by declaring, “Freedom of speech does not apply to misinformation and propaganda.”  Apparently, Greenpeace does not believe this applies to its own conduct.

Even as Greenpeace is expending its vast resources cajoling leading publishing houses, they haven’t been able to muster the simple integrity of meeting with the ordinary people in boreal communities they know are being harmed.

In one example among many, thousands of citizens in the boreal town of Saint-Félicien, Quebec marched in the streets to protest the impact of Greenpeace’s conduct. “We extend a hand” for the activists to dialogue, the town’s mayor, Gilles Potvin, said at the gathering. Like countless others in communities across the boreal, they never heard from Greenpeace. 

We invite readers to learn more about our commitment to sustainability and how we are setting the record straight on Greenpeace’s attempts to mislead the public. Here is a link to our blog post refuting their latest misleading report.

Once Again, Greenpeace Bypasses the Boreal on a New York Jaunt to Harass Book Publishers

Last week Greenpeace showed up at the offices of book publishers in New York City to deliver a petition regarding their misleading campaigns in the boreal, a document that repeated some of the same falsehoods that they admitted in court were “non verifiable statements of subjective opinion” and “rhetorical hyperbole.”

Why is Greenpeace investing its resources travelling from coast to coast to harass book publishers at their NYC offices, instead of visiting the communities directly affected by their campaign of misinformation?

Greenpeace claims they “want to talk to the workers who know the conditions on the ground best, [and] the men and women in the forest industry must be at the discussion table.”

But many thousands of citizens across Canada’s boreal region have reached out to Greenpeace. They have expressed their concerns by phone, on social media, during large public demonstrations, as well as through letters and direct mail initiatives. They asked Greenpeace to stop campaigns that misinform the public and threaten the livelihood of their communities.

How did Greenpeace respond to that avalanche of heartfelt appeals about the real harm they have caused? The answer is simple: They ignored them.    

Below are just some of the boreal communities directly impacted by Greenpeace’s misinformation campaign targeting Resolute Forest Products. Will Greenpeace muster the integrity to visit these communities any time soon? We aren’t holding our breath. 

 

"I invited the director of Greenpeace Quebec – I won’t name him – to come visit us, and to give me just 24 hours’ notice. I told him, 'We won’t change a thing in the mill’s operations, I’ll show you anything you want to see. I’ll go with you.' But I never heard back."

- Ghislain Laprise, Mill Employee & Union President, La Doré, Quebec 


"Greenpeace,  in our view, is an environmental group that goes to the extreme, that doesn’t seek a balance between conservation and forest management."

-Jack Picard, Band Council Member, Innu Nation of Pessamit, Quebec 


“Greenpeace definitely doesn’t speak for people here when it comes to the boreal forest.” 

-David Côté, Mill Superintendent, Saint-Prime, Quebec

In Response to Hachette Book Group

Recently, we received a letter from the leadership of the Hachette Book Group expressing concerns over our legal dispute with Greenpeace in the wake of the group's misleading "report" on free speech. Resolute CEO Richard Garneau replied with this letter:

 

June 12, 2017 

Mr. Arnaud Nourry
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Hachette Livre
58 Rue Jean Bleuze
92170 Vanves, France

Dear Mr. Nourry: 

Thank you for your considerate overture and I appreciate the invitation to offer our thoughts on the longstanding, mutual commitment we each have to sustainable forestry. You are among our most valued customers and we take great pride in seeing how your company transforms our dedicated work into the lyrical beauty of the written word on the page. 

I certainly share your chagrin that the various accusations being made by Greenpeace seem difficult to gauge, although it is obvious why Greenpeace should prefer it that way. One wonders whether they assume that the public will simply accept their claims without bothering to examine the details. By making their demands capricious, obscure, and ever-changing, the only yardstick becomes whatever Greenpeace insists. 

Our position and track record by contrast are carefully detailed and wholly transparent, and I would encourage any stakeholder to read more about our sustainability performance here. Here are some recent examples of the broader recognition we have received for our environmental leadership. 

• 2017 Environmental Leader of the Year Award, Environmental Leader Conference (North America) 
• 2017 Mercure award for Sustainable Development (Canada) 
• 2016/2017 Corporate Responsibility Award and Industry Sector Award, Peer Awards for Excellence (UK) 
• 2017 Corporate LiveWire Innovation & Excellence Award, Excellence in Sustainable Forestry (North America) 

We also take great pride in the many proactive steps we have taken that continue to enhance the sustainability of our operations. We derive 74 percent of our energy needs from renewable sources. Several years ago, we committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent below the levels in 2000. We exceeded that commitment, and as of the end of 2016 achieved a best-in-class 73 percent reduction. We have been closely tracking and reporting on carbon, water and forestry through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Our scores are above average for the industry in carbon and water, and in 2016, we earned an “A-” in forestry, the highest ranking in the sector for all of North America. Last year, we also joined, as an inaugural member, the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, a voluntary global partnership that seeks to address climate change by putting a market price on carbon. 

We remain committed to maintaining our 100% forest management and chain of custody certifications to internationally recognized standards such as Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®). This ensures all the fiber we process comes from responsible sources. The Canadian government, which owns and oversees the land where we operate, also plays a crucial role in ensuring the forests in which we operate are managed sustainably, and we have a strong record of compliance with both federal and provincial regulations. 

Our dedication to responsible practices also extends to our many stakeholders, including the communities where we work and live, our conscientious employees, and of course our customers. By its own accounting, Greenpeace cheerfully claims it has caused more than $100 million in economic damage. They have also admitted to falsifying staged photos and video about our forest practices. When pressed to justify itself in court, Greenpeace conceded that its claims about Resolute “do not hew to strict literalisms or scientific precision” and instead are “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion and at most…rhetorical hyperbole...not intended to be taken literally." 

Just two weeks ago, Greenpeace issued another admission, saying they “are troubled by the recent job losses announced in the forest industry, which affect workers and their families.” “We do want to talk to the workers who know the conditions on the ground best,” they added, “[and] the men and women in the forest industry must be at the discussion table.” But those workers, their unions, community leaders, First Nations Chiefs and citizens by the thousands have been pleading with Greenpeace for years – and have been utterly ignored. 

In one example among many, thousands of citizens in the town of Saint-Félicien, Quebec marched in the streets to protest the impact of Greenpeace’s conduct. “We extend a hand” for activists to dialogue, the town’s mayor, Gilles Potvin, said at the gathering. Like countless others in communities across the Boreal, they never heard from Greenpeace. 

We are troubled that Greenpeace has devoted its vast resources to cajoling leading publishing houses, yet can’t muster the simple integrity of meeting with the ordinary people they know are being harmed. 

You have my promise that we will continue to uphold the high standards that we have demonstrated in all the years we have enjoyed a relationship with Hachette. Thank you again for the opportunity to have a dialogue. I welcome the opportunity to meet with you personally in Paris to discuss these matters in greater detail. 

 

Yours sincerely, 

Richard Garneau
President and Chief Executive Officer
Resolute Forest Products 

 

In Response to Greenpeace Ads in Le Devoir and the Ottawa Citizen

Greenpeace and Stand.Earth recently spent thousands to place misleading advertisements in Le Devoir and the Ottawa Citizen repeating the fiction that Resolute’s litigation is about “trying to silence” the radical environmental organizations. The ads mislead readers about both the nature of our case and our business.

This isn’t about freedom of expression. It’s about holding Greenpeace accountable for a campaign of misinformation that continues, despite Greenpeace’s own admissions that its serial attacks against our company were “hyperbole,” “heated rhetoric,” and “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion” that “do not hew to strict literalism or scientific precision.”

We’ve submitted versions of this letter to the editors of those publications so that their readers understand Greenpeace’s distortions in full context.

 

Letters to the Editor
Le Devoir / Ottawa Citizen

 

Dear Editor:

Your publication recently published a full-page ad from the radical environmental organization Greenpeace and its ally Stand.Earth, repeating their egregiously hypocritical claim that our efforts to hold them accountable for their slanders amount to an “attack on public discourse [and] free speech.”

But a simple Google search reveals Greenpeace has been enthusiastically on the side opposing free expression in the two biggest legal cases in U.S. courts in recent years.

Specifically, they have publicly denounced the United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of free speech in the Citizens United case, standing against the American Civil Liberties Union, the Free Speech Defense & Education Fund, the Institute for Justice, the California First Amendment Coalition, and some of the largest trade unions and political groups across the political spectrum. Moreover, they applauded government lawyers for launching a legal assault against groups Greenpeace opposes, using the very same approach their ad now claims is an assault on “the very heart of our democratic society.”

Readers would be right to ask Greenpeace how they square this apparent contradiction. One answer comes from the group’s own web site, where they justify their stance by declaring “Freedom of speech does not apply to misinformation and propaganda.” We quite agree with the sentiment, but Greenpeace seems to think it only applies to its own conduct.  

As our legal filings document, Greenpeace has spent years on a campaign of public misrepresentations about our forestry practices—impersonating employees, initiating cyber-attacks on our customers, and harassing companies we do business with, including by threatening them with similar smear campaigns.

But we’ve forced Greenpeace to retract some of its false claims about us, and to admit in legal filings that its serial attacks against our company were “hyperbole,” “heated rhetoric,” and “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion” that “do not hew to strict literalism or scientific precision.” That’s why we’ve taken them to court, and why we won’t waver in holding them accountable for their actions.

 

Sincerely,
Seth Kursman
Vice President,
Corporate Communications, Sustainability & Government Affairs
Resolute Forest Products

In Response to Now Toronto’s Biased, Misinformed Reporting

A recent article in Now Toronto peddles the fiction that Resolute’s suit against Greenpeace is an effort to silence the radical environmental organization. By omitting key facts and failing to seek out any sort of contrary perspectives on the matter, author Adria Vasil misleads readers about both the nature of our case and our operation.

This isn’t about free speech. It’s about holding Greenpeace accountable for the damage their campaign of misinformation and propaganda. Now Toronto readers deserve the truth.

In an attempt to correct the record, we sent this letter to the editor. Now Toronto acknowledged receiving the letter, but has yet to post it publically or update their story.

 

Letters to the Editor
NOW Toronto

Dear Editor: 

Adria Vasil correctly notes in a recent story (“Greenpeace's battle royal over the boreal”, May 31, 2017) that Greenpeace has been forced to retract false claims about Resolute Forest Products, and to admit in legal filings that its serial attacks against our company were “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion.” 

But remarkably, Ms. Vasil did not contact us for input or a chance to respond to many other tendentious claims in her story. In a piece about a factual dispute between two parties, what code of journalistic conduct sanctions quoting one side at length while failing even to pick up a phone to contact the other?   

Had Ms. Vasil called us, we would have corrected the record in a number of key respects. 

Perhaps most egregious is the hypocrisy of Greenpeace’s claim that our efforts to hold them accountable for their slanders amount to “shutting down free speech.” We could have pointed Ms. Vasil to a few simple Google searches that reveal Greenpeace has been energetically on the side opposing free expression in the two biggest legal cases in U.S. courts in recent years. 

Specifically, they have publicly denounced the United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of free speech in the Citizens United case, standing against the American Civil Liberties Union, the Free Speech Defense & Education Fund, the Institute for Justice, the California First Amendment Coalition, and some of the largest trade unions and political groups across the political spectrum. Moreover, they have applauded a group of attorneys general for launching a legal assault against groups Greenpeace opposes, using the very same approach that NOW magazine refers to as “extraordinary legal manoeuvring.” 

A more diligent story might have queried Shane Moffat about the glaring contradiction here. 
One potential answer comes from Greenpeace’s own web site, where the group justifies its stance by declaring that “Freedom of speech does not apply to misinformation and propaganda.” We wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, but note that Greenpeace doesn’t seem to think it applies when they are the defendants. 

As our legal filings document, Greenpeace has spent years on a campaign of public misrepresentations about our forestry practices—impersonating employees, initiating cyber-attacks on our customers, and harassing companies we do business with, including by threatening them with similar smear campaigns. 

Ms. Vasil does reference the site where we detail this sordid history at length. That’s a good start. But NOW readers deserve coverage that confronts these facts fairly and honestly, instead of merely burying them in a hyperlink. 

Sincerely, 

Seth Kursman
Vice President, 
Corporate Communications, Sustainability & Government Affairs
Resolute Forest Products