Globe and Mail Headline: Greenpeace is a menace to the world


The little town of Saint-Félicien, in Quebec’s lovely Saguenay region, is under siege.

“Greenpeace wants our total death!” mayor Gilles Potvin complained back in 2013. “If we listen to them, we can’t cut wood any more.”

Greenpeace has been waging a relentless campaign against Resolute Forest Products, the largest forest company in the region and in Canada. (It is the successor company to Abitibi and Bowater.)

When resource companies are attacked by environmental NGOs, their tendency is to go on the defensive and speak softly.

Resolute is an exception.

It’s fighting back. In part, it’s personal. Richard Garneau, the company’s CEO, grew up in the Saguenay, and his family has lived there for generations. “For me, confronting this barrage of misinformation has been more than just about business ethics,” he writes on the corporate website. “I harvested trees by hand to pay my way through school.”

In his view, Greenpeace “is marauding not just our company but a way of life, one built on nurturing healthy forests that are the lifeblood of the people who live there.”

Last year Resolute launched a racketeering lawsuit in the United States, alleging that Greenpeace and its allies had engaged in defamatory and fraudulent behaviour in order to enrich themselves from donations. The company accused it of faking photos, and fabricating evidence of Resolute’s misdeeds.

Greenpeace has now admitted that it engaged in “rhetorical hyperbole.” It said in a court motion that its words about forest destruction “can be describing figurative, rather than literal destruction.”

It also admitted that its claims “do not hew to strict literalisms or scientific precision” and are “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion.” It is not, however, apologetic. Greenpeace is using the lawsuit to market itself as a victim – in online notifications they include a visual of a gagged woman and the tagline “Clearcutting free speech.” It’s calling on the world’s biggest book publishers to boycott Resolute’s book paper – on moral grounds – and has signed up a bunch of authors in its support. (Margaret Atwood is among them.)

Mr. Garneau has no problem with free speech. It’s the dissemination of inaccurate information that he’s against. He is imploring the publishers to acquaint themselves with the facts. Here are some: Canada’s forest industry is among the most stringently regulated in the world. Resolute’s record of sustainability has been widely praised. Thousands of Indigenous people work in the forest industry, and it has collaborative business relationships with many First Nations.

The boreal forest is vast and Resolute harvests only a tiny fraction of it, undertaking extensive reforestation as well.

The region’s mayors, union leaders, mill workers, and Indigenous leaders are fed up with Greenpeace. They’re angry at being portrayed by outsiders as forest destroyers.

“Greenpeace, in our view, is a group that goes to the extreme, that doesn’t seek a balance between conservation and forest management,” Jack Picard, a band council member of the Innu Nation of Pessamit in Quebec, says in a video. He adds: “We don’t accept anyone else speaking for us. We are fully capable of speaking for ourselves.”

Greenpeace’s fearmongering gives environmental activism a bad name. Last year more than 100 Nobel laureates signed a letter urging them to drop their campaign against genetically modified foods and golden rice, which increase crop yields and provide crucial nutrients that prevent disease and death. Greenpeace is a menace to the world, and especially to the world’s most vulnerable. It is also enormously powerful.

“I used to respect Greenpeace, but they are not aware of the reality of the forest industry,” Mr. Potvin told me. “Young people believe them. Students believe them. They spread a lot of falsehoods, and they do a lot of damage.”

Margaret Went, The Globe and Mail (6/24/2017)

Journal de Montréal Headline Greenpeace v. Resolute: Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel get taken for a ride

About 100 writers recently announced their support for Greenpeace, asking that Resolute Forest Products drop its lawsuits against the environmental organization. Famous authors such as Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel are among the signatories, along with many other personalities, such as Naomi Klein, Alec Baldwin, Jane Fonda and even John Maxwell Coetzee, a Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature.

It looks pretty good: Artists and thinkers coming forward to defend the environment against a multinational corporation. But the story is more complicated than that, and the bad guys and the good guys are not who they seem to be.


Backed into a corner, Greenpeace admitted in court that it had lied. The use of the term “forest destroyer,” for example, is “obviously rhetorical,” Greenpeace wrote in its defence.

Greenpeace added that its attacks on Resolute were “without doubt unverifiable statements based on subjective opinion and verging on rhetorical hyperbole.” That says a lot about the organization’s ethics!

The campaign that Greenpeace has been running for several years absolutely does not reflect the reality of the forest in Quebec. In his 2008-2013 Report, Quebec’s Chief Forester said that the public forest was in good shape and that he was optimistic about the conservation of biodiversity and forest preservation.

Contrary to what this type of campaign suggests, a significant portion of the forest is not affected by human activity. Of the 761,100 km2 of forests covering Quebec, only 36% is accessible to the forest products industry. Of that 36%, less than 1% of the inventoried timber is harvested annually.

Quebec’s forests are not overharvested – far from it. Harvest volumes are less than the annual allowable volume, and forest regeneration is not threatened. Greenpeace has ignored these facts and has repeated falsehoods so often that they have come to be regarded as the truth by many.

The forest – A livelihood for thousands of Quebeckers

Many communities live off the forest. In 2016, the forest industry represented 185,310 jobs and more than $22 billion of economic activity in Canada. In Quebec alone, the forest sector accounts for more than 57,000 jobs and no less than 2% of the province’s economic activity.


When Greenpeace attacks a large company – and a large employer – in the rural regions, it is in fact attacking a lot of people and local entrepreneurs who are trying to earn an honest living.

Author Margaret Atwood says that “As a society, we need a happy ending to this story.” For those who live off the forest, a happy ending would mean that Greenpeace stopped harassing businesses that allow people to earn a living honorably while protecting the forest.

Jasmin Guénette, Journal de Montréal (6/7/17)

Toronto Sun Headline: It’s time somebody stood up to Greenpeace

Greenpeace [is] 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.


Resolute notes that it has planted a billion trees. How many trees has Greenpeace planted?

No wonder Resolute wants its day in court.


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?


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.

Nigel Hannaford, Toronto Sun (6/7/17)


Financial Post Headline: Environmentalists admit you shouldn’t believe what they say — but they want your money anyway

"It’s all the most terrible news on Greenpeace Canada’s homepage. “The Arctic is in danger. The ice is retreating at an increasing speed, clearing the path for greedy oil companies that see this catastrophe as a business opportunity.” Good heavens. Also, “recent reports warn that sea life faces the next mass extinction.” Oh no!

What a relief to hear that Greenpeace now says that we shouldn’t seriously believe its claims. We’re not actually meant to take what it says literally. Perhaps it should also mention that to the millions of donors whose fear over such exaggerated environmental claims funds its $350-million budget. And to the government ministries, which Greenpeace lobbies to rein in those greedy oil producers and forestry companies to restrict pipelines and tanker shipments, and to shutter nuclear power plants.

But Greenpeace isn’t advertising the admission that it doesn’t trade in facts. Instead, it revealed it in recent court filings defending itself against a U.S. lawsuit by Canada’s Resolute Forest Products. After enduring a years-long campaign where Greenpeace publicly trashed Resolute’s reputation and intimidated its customers into cancelling their paper-supply contracts, the Montreal-based forestry company began fighting back with lawyers, alleging Greenpeace is a “global fraud” that “duped” its donors with “materially false and misleading claims.” In the U.S., Resolute sued using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which was both a strikingly menacing tactic and an absolutely inspired idea. Since a racketeering suit can bring triple damages, and since Resolute claims Greenpeace’s harassment campaign has cost it upwards of $100 million, the gravity of the threat has motivated Greenpeace to come up with the best defence it can muster.

Turns out that includes telling the court that its claims about Resolute being “forest destroyers,” responsible for a “caribou death spiral and extinction” and myriad other vilifications, were all just marketing hype. “The challenged statements are no more than opinion based on disclosed facts,” Greenpeace International’s lawyers explained in their latest motion to dismiss the RICO suit. Greenpeace, like anyone protected by constitutional free speech, will “often use forceful language to make their point. They do not hew to strict literalisms or scientific precision, but regularly use words ‘in a loose, figurative sense’ to express ‘strong disagreement,’ and attack their intellectual opponents through ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ or ‘vigorous epithet(s).’”

Calling Resolute “forest destroyers,” the lawyers continue, doesn’t have to mean that the company is actually “destroying Canada’s boreal forest” as Greenpeace’s campaign literature claimed. Rather, the motion explains, it “can be describing figurative, rather than literal destruction.” What court could possibly disprove that Resolute is destroying “figurative” forests, since by definition, those forests don’t actually exist?

It seems only fair that Greenpeace should seek shelter behind America’s strong First Amendment protections, since that’s what they’re there for. And Greenpeace continues to maintain that its defence doesn’t mean its claims are lies. But Resolute’s allegation — which hasn’t been proven in court — is that the group is practicing a form of fraud, by lying about companies to squeeze more money from donors, to its own enrichment. It’s worth noting that Greenpeace has long had trouble proving that its work is all that altruistic: Several countries (although not the U.S.) have revoked its charitable status, including Canada, where government officials determined its activities serve “no public benefit” but its anti-development activism might well compound poverty.

It has unquestionably cost Canadian jobs through its relentless public punishment of Resolute, which is why the conflict has created an unlikely alliance in Quebec of union leaders, First Nations chiefs and government officials, all lined up against Greenpeace’s crusade. Free speech is a vital protection that even propagandists must enjoy, but mau-mauing a company’s customers for fundraising purposes, as Greenpeace did to Resolute...might be where a court sees a bigger role for civil damages than for the First Amendment.

Organizations don’t naturally benefit from speech rights, after all. Resolute certainly doesn’t. Whether communicating to investors, the community or to customers, a ring-fence of regulations, civil claims and industry standards make sure companies carefully watch what they say. Spreading fictions about their products’ benefits, its risks, or their sales figures or financial situation if they’re publicly traded, can get a corporation fined, sued and sanctioned, while its officials face career-ending censure if not retributive fines and jail time.

Meanwhile, activist NGOs like Greenpeace have enjoyed the freedom to spread exaggerations, deceptions and outright lies in ways that the resource companies they target could never get away with, all to raise money from credulous donors who are victimized, too, fooled by “rhetorical hyperbole” into worrying that things they genuinely care about, like, say, the boreal forest, are really being destroyed. Stressing out compassionate people with overwrought scare tactics is a squalid and ghoulish trade, but, hey, it keeps those cheques coming in.

And surveys show Canadians still trust NGOs far more than they trust businesses: As many politicians will attest, it’s easier to deceive people into trusting you than to actually earn it. But Greenpeace’s admissions make it clear that environmentalists will spout baloney — in the “loose, figurative sense” — to make money in ways that no major company would dare. Businesses face real risks for being deceptive. But the incentive to gain for fear-mongering environmentalists is to distort reality so extremely that forests are made “figurative” and the truth becomes unrecognizable."

Kevin Libin, Financial Post (3/8/17)

Australian Financial Review Headline: Greenpeace pleads the first in US racketeering case

"The unprecedented US racketeering action bought against Greenpeace Inc by an aggressively aggrieved Canadian timber company passed another milestone recently with the environmental defender arguing that it should not matter whether the claims presented in its anti-logging campaign were facts.

The strike-out motion filed by Greenpeace at the end of January seeks US First Amendment free speech protection and is constructed around the thesis that this failure of consensus is almost inevitable given Resolute chops trees down in old forests and Greenpeace believes that it should not.

So when Greenpeace advertises Resolute as the "Forest Destroyer", well, that is just the sort of "heated rhetoric" that is the "coin of the realm" in this sort of conflict. That Resolute has planted more than one billion trees to mitigate its enduring cull of mature trees is a truth inconvenient to what is really just a marketing pitch for the hearts and minds of Canadians.

"First, Greenpeace's publications are well known for advancing the organisation's advocacy mission and opinions, not hard news," the Greenpeace lawyers stated. "Second, the challenged publications were part of a heated public debate, here over RFP's [Resolute's] logging practices, where criticism and heated rhetoric are the coin of the realm."

Citing case law, the Greenpeace pitch includes the claim that "speakers who engage in protected expression on matters of public controversy – like Greenpeace here – often use forceful language to make their point".

"They do not hew to strict literalisms or scientific precision, but regularly use words 'in a loose, figurative sense' to express 'strong disagreement'.

The dismissal application goes on to note that the claim that Resolute had "destroyed forests" should be received as "describing figurative, rather than literal, destruction."

Matthew Stevens, Australian Financial Review (3/7/17) 

CBC News Headline: Greenpeace court filing an admission of 'lying,' forest company charges

“This is the most significant development in the four-plus years of this saga,” Resolute vice-president Seth Kursman told The Canadian Press. “Greenpeace has admitted that they were lying about our forestry practices. Their campaign has been peddling falsehoods.”

In its fight to stop the company’s lawsuit in Georgia, Greenpeace argues in a recent court filing that its criticism of Resolute’s logging practices in Canada’s boreal forests should be viewed through the prism of free speech rather than taken literally.

 “Speakers who engage in protected expression on matters of public controversy _ like Greenpeace here _ often use forceful language to make their point,” Greenpeace states.

 “They do not hew to strict literalisms or scientific precision, but regularly use words ‘in a loose, figurative sense’ to express ‘strong disagreement’ … and attack their intellectual opponents through ‘rhetorical hyperbole’.”

The company, which is also suing Greenpeace for $7 million for defamation in Ontario, filed its Georgia lawsuit under racketeering laws enacted to deal with organized crime that allow for triple damages. Among other things, Resolute alleges Greenpeace is a “global fraud” whose campaigns are based on “sensational misinformation” aimed at getting people to donate money for its own benefit.

Kursman called Greenpeace’s tactics part of a “cycle of abuse” that relies on a lack of scientific grounding while making claims as a way to solicit donations.

 “Greenpeace has drifted away from legitimate environmental work to schemes for generating donations,” Kursman said in an email. “Real people lost their jobs, communities have suffered, real families have experienced hardship … a stark reminder of the damage that this ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ has caused.”

Colin Perkel, CBC News (3/6/17) 

Daily Caller Headline: Greenpeace Admits An Anti-Logging Campaign Is Based On ‘Subjective Opinion’

"Greenpeace admitted in legal filings its campaign to vilify a Canada-based logging company was based on “hyperbole” and “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion” that weren’t meant to be taken literally.

That’s what Greenpeace admitted to avoid being held liable for damages in their legal battle against the logging company Resolute and its subsidiaries. The green group began targeting Resolute’s operations in 2012.

Resolute CEO Richard Garneau wrote at National Review Online that Greenpeace “harassed companies we do business with, threatening them with the same sort of smear campaign that they launched against us and even instigating cyber-attacks on their websites.”

Greenpeace called Resolute “forest destroyers” who were causing a “caribou death spiral and extinction” in their campaign to get the company to bend to environmentalist demands. Greenpeace even has a webpage listing their case against Resolute, and what it wants the company to do, which includes suspending logging operations.

 “And they bragged about the damage — $100 million, in Canadian dollars — that they claimed to have inflicted on our business,” Garneau wrote. So they sued to stop Greenpeace’s campaign.

Resolute sued Greenpeace in Canadian court in 2013 for defamation and economic interference and again in U.S. court in 2016 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

In total, Resolute is seeking more than $228 million in damages against Greenpeace.

Greenpeace fought back, but their defense consisted of arguing they couldn’t be held accountable for their claims against Resolute. Why? Because they were based on “heated rhetoric” that shouldn’t be taken “literally.” 

Yet, Greenpeace was raising money off such campaigns, according to Garneau. He wrote that “the eco-provocateurs at Greenpeace have been raising money off the calculated mistruths that we are somehow responsible for the destruction of vast areas of forest.” There’s no evidence of forest loss where Resolute operates.

Greenpeace uses “ALARMIST ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOIDS” — that’s what they internally call it — in campaigns like this to raise money, according to Resolute’s legal filing.

Greenpeace is saying these factoids are “rhetorical hyperbole” — not based on scientific evidence, but opinion.

Resolute’s lawsuit against Greenpeace is somewhat ironic given the international eco-group’s support for RICO-style investigations into oil companies that allegedly lied about global warming."

Michael Bastasch, The Daily Caller (3/3/17) 

Energy In Depth Headline: Greenpeace Claims Immunity from Lawsuits Because Its Claims Are ‘Hyperbole’

"There’s been an interesting twist of events involving Greenpeace, one of the major groups pushing the failing #ExxonKnew campaign: They’ve been sued by Resolute, a Canadian forest-products company, for defamation and false claims about the company’s operations.

But when Greenpeace had to answer for its actions in court, the group wasn’t so sure it could defend its claims. In fact, they admitted those claims had no merit.

No “forest loss” was caused by Resolute, the groups concede — now that they are being held accountable.

As the Financial Post also reported,

But now Greenpeace says it never intended people to take its words about Resolute’s logging practices as literal truth.
“The publications’ use of the word “Forest Destroyer,” for example, is obvious rhetoric,” Greenpeace writes in its motion to dismiss the Resolute lawsuit. “Resolute did not literally destroy an entire forest. It is of course arguable that Resolute destroyed portions of the Canadian Boreal Forest without abiding by policies and practices established by the Canadian government and the Forest Stewardship Council, but that is the point: The “Forest Destroyer” statement cannot be proven true or false, it is merely an opinion.”

In other words, Greenpeace is admitting that it relies on “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion,” and because its claims are not meant to be factual, the group believes it cannot be held legally responsible for what it says.

Notably, Greenpeace has been actively pushing for legal action against ExxonMobil, alleging the company “knew” about climate change in the 1970s and 1980s before the world’s top scientists had come to any solid conclusions. When the Rockefeller-funded InsideClimate News and Columbia School of Journalism produced their #ExxonKnew hit pieces, Greenpeace immediately called for the Department of Justice to investigate ExxonMobil.”

Katie Brown, Energy In Depth (3/3/17)

Financial Post Headline: Greenpeace admits its attacks on forest products giant were ‘non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion’

"Greenpeace, after repeated attacks against Canada’s biggest forest products company for “destroying,” Canada’s boreal forests, now says that it was merely stating an opinion about the logging activity, not a fact.

After years of weathering attacks on its forestry practices, Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products Inc. last year sued Greenpeace in United States District Court in Georgia under racketeering statutes, alleging that Greenpeace’s repeated attacks on Resolute, to raise money for Greenpeace, amount to criminal activity.

But now Greenpeace says it never intended people to take its words about Resolute’s logging practices as literal truth. 

“The publications’ use of the word “Forest Destroyer,” for example, is obvious rhetoric,” Greenpeace writes in its motion to dismiss the Resolute lawsuit. “Resolute did not literally destroy an entire forest. It is of course arguable that Resolute destroyed portions of the Canadian Boreal Forest without abiding by policies and practices established by the Canadian government and the Forest Stewardship Council, but that is the point: The “Forest Destroyer” statement cannot be proven true or false, it is merely an opinion.”

Greenpeace adds that its attacks on Resolute “are without question non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion and at most non-actionable rhetorical hyperbole.”

None of the allegations by Resolute or Greenpeace has been tested in this case, which remains before the courts.

Richard Garneau, the chief executive of Resolute, who himself hails from the company’s centre of logging operations in the Saguenay region north of Quebec City, seized on Greenpeace’s admissions in an op-ed published Thursday in the conservative U.S. magazine National Review.

 “A funny thing happened when Greenpeace and allies were forced to account for their claims in court,” Garneau wrote. “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 latest legal filings. These are sober admissions after years of irresponsible attacks.”  

Garneau, in Toronto Thursday, said Greenpeace’s attacks have hurt many across northern Quebec and Ontario.

 “It is sad that we have to do all this to straighten out the record on misinformation,” he said. 'It is sad that all Greenpeace’s allegations are against people who cannot defend themselves against organizations who blackmail customers to raise money.'"

Peter Kuitenbrouwer, Financial Post (3/2/17) 

National Review Headline: In a ‘Post-Truth’ Era, Greenpeace Lies to Raise Money

"Union workers and government officials in the forest region have risen up against Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and other organizations that are making wild claims. For several years, activists have relentlessly attacked paper company Resolute Forest Products and its customers, claiming that it is destroying the forest. The people directly affected by these false accusations are speaking up in droves. 

“We will not sit idly by while self-interested pressure groups try to malign the diligent and careful work that our members do for a living,” union leaders recently told the NRDC. 

Roger Sigouin, the mayor of Hearst, Ontario, told Greenpeace that if its misinformation campaign is successful, “the aftermath will be whole communities dying and I can tell you right now, that’s irresponsible and we will not stand for that.” 

Refreshing, eh? It’s not just a corporation-vs.-environmentalists battle; union workers, the company that provides their livelihood, and local governments are all on the same side. 
Did you know that the Canadian government won’t recognize Greenpeace as a tax-exempt charitable organization It has said Greenpeace’s activities “have no public benefit.” That’s an understatement. Instead, the group causes harm. Greenpeace and others like it should be held accountable for the ways they lie to supporters and hurt communities."

Amy Payne, National Review Online (1/24/17)