"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)