THUNDER BAY -- Resolute Forest Products launched a public relations offensive against its environmentalist adversaries on Friday, rolling out tens of thousands of dollars in advertising and mailouts across Northern Ontario and Quebec.
The You Deserve A Voice campaign urges northerners to sign a petition against Greenpeace and ForestEthics, arguing the Boreal Forest management is "among the best managed, if not the best managed forests in the world...".
Greenpeace and ForestEthics played a major role in campaigns that have urged large paper suppliers to divest from Resolute's products. The environmental organizations used imagery of clearcuts and suggested Resolute's logging practices are contributing to caribou extinction and violating Aboriginal rights.
Most notably, the campaign convinced 3M to source its paper elsewhere and the loss of the company known for making Post-It-Notes has Resolute changing its strategy.
"The goal is that the misinformation must stop," said Seth Kursman, Resolute's vice president of communications.
"The inaccurate, inappropriate, deceptive allegations have harmed the company but also our employees, their families and the socio-economic well-being of communities across the north -- that must stop. The people who are doing this must be held accountable. Freedom of speech and libel and slander are not the same thing."
The campaign complements a $7-million lawsuit Resolute launched against Greenpeace in 2013. A week before Resolute's unveiled its advertising campaign, Greenpeace's lawyers requested the forestry company commit to mediation for both the suit and the land-use issues at the core of the conflict. Greenpeace requested that those meetings also include Ontario, First Nations and labour representatives. The company declined the request.
Richard Brooks is Greenpeace's forest campaign coordinator. He said the company's money would be better spent collaborating to improve forest management in the English River, Caribou and Black Spruce Forests.
"If they're accusing us of misinformation, all we're doing is sharing with the public information that's coming from Environment Canada scientists and Ontario Government scientists about what the real situation is, facing woodland caribou in Ontario," he said.
"If they're calling us liars, they're calling the federal and provincial government liars."