The Electric Pencil

Écosociété SLAPP’d again; government promises relief in fall

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Last week, as Écosociété was preparing for their benefit show to raise funds for their legal battle with Barrick Gold, the small Montreal publishing house got his with another Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). Banro Corporation, which, while much smaller than Barrick, also holds rights to gold extraction in the Congo, filed a lawsuit in Ontario Superior court for $5 million dollars, claiming Écosociété and the authors of Noir Canada (Alain Deneault, Depphine Abadie et William Sacher) deliberately published falsehoods about the company. Deneautl has replied to this lawsuit the same way he responded to Barrick: that all the information published was already public knowledge, released by reputbale organisations such as the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, and that no lawsuits were ever launched over previously published reports.

This brings the total Écosociété is being sued for over Canada Noir, which deals with Canadian mining company human rights violations in Africa, to $11 million – or nearley 50 times the amount Écosociété takes in annually. Even more worrisome, writes the company on thei support campaign website, is that this also means defending themselves in not one, but two different jurisdictions, in two languages and under two different legal codes (civil law in Quebec and common law in Ontario).

The intrepid publishers were granted some good news on Friday, June 13, though, when the Quebec government, as promised, declared it would be introducing legislation to severely limit SLAPP lawsuits and help shift both legal and financial burden onto those who would launch such spurious lawsuits. As such things go, though, parliament is on the verge of it’s summer recess, and the legislation will only be voted on this fall. In the meantime, Écosociété, author Deneault et al. will need to sweat it out over the summer, hoping that legal fees don’t pile up too high.

To find out more about the Écosociété suppot campaign: http://slapp.écosociété.org

P.S. Watch for the double slap about 11 seconds in…

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