Christmas 2014 was not a good year for hundreds of employees of Resolute Forest Products in Canada who lost their jobs as a result of what can only be described as a series of economic terrorist attacks against their employer. No, these employees didn’t get blown out of a plane or trapped inside a bombed building like the tragic of victims of 9/11. Instead they lost their jobs as a result of a multi-year campaign by Greenpeace aimed at sabotaging their employer by threatening its customer base. In this case, Resolute lost a very important contract with electronics giant Best Buy, which decided to terminate its relationship with Resolute after intense lobbying by Greenpeace Canada.
“Contrary to ‘economic warfare’ which is undertaken by states against other states, ‘economic terrorism’ would be undertaken by transnational or non-state actors. This could entail varied, coordinated and sophisticated or massive destabilizing actions in order to disrupt the economic and financial stability of a state, a group of states or a society (such as market oriented western [sic] societies) for ideological or religious motives.
“These actions, if undertaken, may be violent or not. They could have either immediate effects or carry psychological effects which in turn have economic consequences.”
Clearly, the suffering inflicted on the 300 Resolute employees and their families qualifies as having both economic and psychological consequences. Furthermore, those Resolute employees who retained their jobs were undoubtedly affected psychologically because they couldn’t help but wonder when the axe was going to fall on them.
Greenpeace, along with other radical environmental groups such as EarthFirst! and its spawn the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), has a lengthy track record of committing acts of environmental terrorism as well.
Stefan H. Leader and Peter Probst, co-authors of The Earth Liberation Front and Environmental Terorism, explain environmental terrorism as follows,
“Two fundamental concepts motivate environmental terrorists: biocentrism and deep ecology. Biocentrism is the belief that all organisms on earth are equal and deserving of moral rights and considerations. They see biodiversity and wilderness as absolute goods. Believers in deep ecology favor a rollback of industrialization/civilization and return to a way of life seen as more consistent with preservation of the environment. In this regard, their views resemble those of “Unabomber,” Theodore Kaczynski. (Kaczynski’s lengthy manifesto began with the assertion that the industrial revolution has been a disaster for the human race.) Deep ecologists favor restoration to its imagined pristine state, of an environment they believe has been despoiled by the selfish actions of the human race. In practice, this would mean return to pre-industrial, subsistence agricultural communities.”
Environmental and economic terrorism are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, the two go hand-in-hand, the one giving rise to the other in the form of lost jobs, lost customer base, and lost revenue. Furthermore, communities also suffer when a major employer succumbs to NGO campaigning. In the case of Resolute, the communities affected were the rural towns of Iroquois Falls, Ontario, as well as Clermont and Baie-Comeau, Quebec. In all three towns, Resolute was the major employer and the workers had good, well-paying jobs in areas with few employment opportunities.
Greenpeace: Corporate Enemy No. 1
After doing some basic analysis, it becomes clear that the victimization of 300 Resolute employees had nothing to do with Resolute’s environmental track record. Instead, it was a vindictive and malicious assault by the company’s enemies.
Resolute possesses many types of forestry certifications; however, the company has long been at odds with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Resolute lost some of its FSC certifications in December 2013, partly because of unsettled issues over aboriginal lands, something Resolute has no power to resolve since the dispute is between aboriginal groups and the Canadian government.
The situation becomes more suspect when looking at the composition of the FSC board of directors. Two of Resolute’s main competitors, Tembec and Kruger, are represented on the FSC board. More telling, however, was the appointment to the FSC board of Greenpeace USA’s Forest Campaign Director Rolf Skar, who has a lengthy pedigree of vitriolic campaigning against Resolute and other forestry companies.
Greenpeace Canada and Resolute have been locked in a bitter legal battle for several years now, which stemmed from the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) “ceasefire,” of which Resolute and Greenpeace were signatories. The “ceasefire” was signed by members of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and nine environmental NGOs. Greenpeace withdrew from the pact in December 2012, claiming Resolute had broken the agreement by logging in off-limits areas.
Resolute immediately pointed out the allegations were false, but Greenpeace persisted in its claims until February 2013 when Resolute threatened a lawsuit. In a virtually unprecedented move, Greenpeace retracted its allegations and apologized, saying it “sincerely regretted its error.” However, within days of its apology, Greenpeace in fact redoubled its assault against Resolute, lodging the same inaccurate accusations for which it had apologized, plus many new fabrications.
The situation continued to escalate until May 15, 2013, when two Greenpeace Canada forest campaigners, Richard Brooks and Shane Moffatt, published The (Un)Sustainability Report. This scathing treatise attacked Resolute not merely for its logging practices but also for its record on pay and pensions, and accused it of selling green products that were “tainted” because they contained no recycled fiber. Brooks and Moffatt turned up at Resolute’s Annual General Meeting and — “with express malice” — handed out copies of the fallacious report to shareholders.
Resolute subsequently withdrew from the CBFA, citing the “unbalanced” demands of Environmental NGOs. The ENGOs responded by declaring that it was they who were “suspending further work” with Resolute.
On May 23, 2013 Resolute filed a lawsuit naming Greenpeace, Richard Brooks, and Shane Moffatt, claiming “damages for defamation, malicious falsehood, and intentional interference with economic relations” in the amount of $5 million. The suit also sought punitive damages of $2 million, plus costs.
One irony that emerged from Resolute’s lawsuit is that Greenpeace’s February 2013 apology may have resulted from Resolute’s reminder to Greenpeace Canada’s directors of their own liabilities. Usually it is corporate directors who find themselves under the gun from NGOs, not the other way around.
Greenpeace, of course, fought back by trying to have the suit dismissed. But it suffered another legal defeat on September 25, 2013 when Thunder Bay (Ontario) Superior Court Justice F.B. Fitzpatrick, in a nine-page decision, ruled the case could proceed. Greenpeace had argued that its criticism of Resolute, which included letters to Resolute customers, had not been shown to be unlawful. The judge disagreed.
In a decades-long recurring theme of claiming any action taken against it is an attempt to stifle free expression, Greenpeace filed a court document on August 20, 2014 saying the Resolute lawsuit was an attempt to silence its criticism of the company’s harvesting practices.
“Lawsuits against Greenpeace and Rainforest Alliance meet the classic profile of a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) because they have been brought to silence criticism of the company’s conduct concerning matters of high public interest: the future of Canadian Boreal forests, the threat to biodiversity in those forests, respect for First Nation rights within their traditional territories, and concern for the future of other communities that are dependent upon a healthy Boreal forest.”
In late August 2016, the Ontario Superior Court dismissed Resolute’s attempt to “greatly expand the scope of the litigation and transform the trial into an inquiry into Greenpeace” as part of Greenpeace’s appeal. The court also found that allegations of Greenpeace distorting the truth in order to appeal to its donor base were “scandalous and vexatious.” The court also awarded Greenpeace full costs for the appeal.
The RICO Case
While the 2013 case was still under appeal, Resolute engaged the prestigious law firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres and Friedman (who represented President Trump during the recent US presidential campaign) to lodge a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) suit against Greenpeace.
Resolute’s lawyers filed the case on May 31, 2016 in a federal district court in Georgia, where Resolute operates a paper mill. Resolute’s lawyers wasted no time in getting to the point, writing in their preliminary statement, “Greenpeace is a global fraud.”
Resolute’s RICO suit alleges a pattern of defamatory and fraudulent behavior by Greenpeace and its sister environmental organizations and claims they are a RICO criminal enterprise that has waged a deliberately defamatory campaign by using misleading photos and rhetoric against Resolute as part of its fundraising efforts.
Recognizing the public interest of the case, Resolute’s attorneys created a dedicated website, www.resolutevgreenpeace.com, in an effort to “catalogue information and progress reports on the case and also, when necessary, to set the record straight as the facts warrant.”
The FAQ page states,
“The complaint describes in detail the falsity of these and other malicious and defamatory accusations. Among other things, the complaint explains that far from being a “forest destroyer,” Resolute has planted well over a billion trees in the Boreal – which is a billion more than Greenpeace – and is responsible for virtually no permanent lost forest acreage. The complaint also demonstrates that Resolute also has not impaired the Boreal’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases, and, instead, has improved that ability through harvesting and forestation as recognized and encouraged by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Nor has Resolute abandoned, exploited or impoverished First Nations or other communities within the Boreal forest, but instead – and again unlike Greenpeace – has created and sustained substantial benefits for these peoples through shared economic participation in the forestry business. The complaint also details how, to support its false accusations, Greenpeace has fabricated evidence and events, including, for example, staged photos falsely purporting to show Resolute logging in prohibited areas and as having harvested areas that were actually cleared by fire.”
Greenpeace filed a motion to dismiss the RICO charges on September 8, 2016 in which its General Counsel Jasper Teulings claimed the suit is, “actually a libel case in the guise of a RICO claim.” Teuling further opined that Resolute chose the RICO route because it could not meet the higher standards of proof required to win a libel case.
And the saga continues…
In the end, the facts are indisputable. The severity of the financial and psychological damage Resolute and its employees suffered from the actions of Greenpeace and its associates goes way beyond mere libel and transcends into the criminal.
Furthermore, the fact that Greenpeace targeted Resolute in a coordinated manner with other environmental NGOs meets the definition of racketeering, and the RICO case is therefore appropriate.
But beyond the mere criminal aspects, the Resolute RICO case presents an excellent example of economic terrorism against a legal, legitimate, private enterprise.
And while some on the left may dismiss Greenpeace’s eco-terrorist tactics as a mere assault against capitalism and therefore, “So what?,” the bigger picture is that such attacks pose a clear and present existential threat to the economic stability of sovereign nations.
By: Jane Yates