Ontario Forest Industry Deeply Concerned Over Anti SLAPP Legislation

Logging truck loaded with logs headed to saw mill.
Logging truck loaded with logs headed to saw mill.
Logging truck loaded with logs headed to saw mill.
Logging truck loaded with logs headed to saw mill.

Ontario Anti-SLAPP Will Hit Small Forestry Business Hard

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

Ontario’s renewable resource sector is in full recovery adding thousands of new direct green jobs each year. Forestry companies in Ontario have announced recent investments of hundreds of millions in new facilities and expanded capacity.

OFlA President and CEO, Jamie Lim, stated, ‘We cannot understand why the Premier would reintroduce a Bill that protects 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.’

OFIA Jamie Lim Interview

Lim states, “Greenpeace is a large well financed organization staffed with trained lobbyists, volunteers and lawyers. In 20 I 2, Greenpeace Canada reported net assets over $3 m illion and net revenues in that year of over $ I I million. 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. (Greenpeace, Annual Review 2012)

OFlA’s Director of Policy and Communications, Christine Leduc adds, ‘Greenpeace must be held accountable for its spread of malicious misinformation that suggests forestry companies are harm ing 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.’

Ms. Leduc continued, “We believe that the re-introduction of anti-SLA PP 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.”

Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bill Mauro states, “Our Government is proposing a “made in Ontario” approach to addressing the issue of strategic lawsuits, based on consensus recommendations of an expert advisory panel and extensive stakeholder consultations. Anyone who has a legitimate claim of libel or slander should not be discouraged by this legislation. Stakeholders will be able to participate as this bill makes its way through the legislative process.”

Northern and Rural Ontario’s youth are equally concerned that unsupported bullying campaigns will cost them future employment in their hometowns.

Lakehead student, Brian Collins recently stated at 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. 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. Premier Couillard has stated, ‘Quebec has world class forest management that is one of the most modem and admired on the planet, even if this is not the message spread by Greenpeace.’ (Journal de Quebec, May 25, 2014)

Jamie Lim says, “We are asking Premier Wynne to stand up for the hardworking 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,” concludes Lim.

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