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)