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Final Cut: Greenpeace destroys jobs

The Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA) is extremely concerned that Premier Wynne has reintroduced her anti-SLAPP legislation this week. She suggests she is protecting freedom of expression when in fact, she is supporting well-financed special interest groups, like Greenpeace, by providing them with the freedom to slander.

We cannot understand why the Premier would reintroduce an act protecting environmental special interest companies like Greenpeace, allowing them to spread damaging misinformation without being held accountable. These ENGO companies are launching attacks on Ontario’s renewable resource and destroying the social and economic fabric of northern and rural Ontario communities.

Greenpeace is a large, well-financed organization staffed with trained lobbyists, volunteers and lawyers. In 2012, Greenpeace Canada reported net assets over $3 million and net revenues of over $11 million in the same year. By contrast, many of our member companies are small, family-owned businesses with a fraction of those assets and revenues. By bullying the customers of Ontario’s forest products sector, special interest group campaigns raise money for their organizations and destroy our forestry jobs (see Greenpeace, Annual Review 2012).

OFIA’s director of policy and communications, Christine Leduc, stated, “Greenpeace must be held accountable for its spread of malicious misinformation that suggests forestry companies are harming the Canadian Boreal Forest. Ontario’s forestry sector operates under a world-class forest management regime. It is reckless and irresponsible for Greenpeace to suggest otherwise.”

Leduc added, “We believe that the re-introduction of anti-SLAPP legislation will create a climate in which radical activist groups can make false claims about a range of industries on which Ontario communities depend, while enjoying protection from any legal opposition and accountability.”

Youth in northern and rural Ontario are equally concerned that unsupported, bullying campaigns will cost them future employment in their hometowns.

Lakehead student, Brian Collins, recently stated on a public forum, “Anyone who has grown up around the industry knows that it is sustainable and together we strive to continually improve on our sustainability record. I believe that the biggest drivers of sustainability in the sector are the workers themselves, as we are the ones who live and work here. It’s our own future to protect.”

Collins continued, “To have outside environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and others slander the sustainability practices of companies that operate in Northern Ontario is an attack on the workers and communities of the North. We wrote our own sustainability story, and we need to prevent outside organizations from twisting it. We grew up here and we want to stay and work here.”

Quebec Premier, Phillippe Couillard, has stood up for his province’s forestry sector in the face of special interest groups that project a false and negative image of forestry. In last year’s May 25 issue of Le Journal de Quebec, Premier Couillard stated, “Quebec has world class forest management that is one of the most modern and admired on the planet, even if this is not the message spread by Greenpeace.”

 We are asking Premier Wynne to stand up for the hard-working citizens who rely on Ontario’s renewable forest products sector for their livelihood. To prevent radical special interest groups from using this proposed law as a shield to hide behind as they spread false information about the job-creators in this province, Premier Wynne needs to make material amendments to this Act.

The OFIA and its members will always support freedom of speech. We do not, however, support freedom to slander with no accountability. Forestry, a renewable resource, is an important aspect of the social and economic fabric of northern and rural Ontario. Premier Wynne’s proposed anti-SLAPP legislation, if passed, will fuel the special interest groups’ campaigns, which threaten the full recovery of Ontario’s responsible renewable forest products sector.

Jaime Lim is the president and CEO of Ontario Forest Industries Association.

February 12, 2015  By Jaime Lim

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