I attended Resolute Forest Product’s Boreal Forum held on November 25th. According to Resolute, we were invited for “a community discussion on the future of the Ontario boreal forest and the role it will play in the future prosperity of Northern Ontario”. I believed I was attending an event designed to hear the voices of northern citizens, like me. I was seriously misled.
Instead, I spent almost two hours listening to the president and CEO of Resolute, Richard Garneau, tell me that because his company generates employment in my community, I should back them in their public fight with Greenpeace. Sure, there were other elements to his presentation, but his take home message was clear.
Mr. Garneau told us that the Ontario Government puts our environment before our economy, using the example that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) did not undergo socio-economic analysis. Yet, he failed to mention that his Company has been EXEMPT from the ESA since its inception in 2007.
Mr. Garneau told us that federal science on woodland caribou, which is now being applied in jurisdictions across Canada and has wide support from the academic community, cannot be extrapolated to the forests he manages in Ontario because the data is mostly (although not completely) extrapolated from other jurisdictions. Yet, he failed to provide any evidence that the caribou populations on these forests are stable.
Mr. Garneau told us that Resolute “is having some issues with FSC certification”. Yet, he failed to mention that when the auditors found Resolute non-compliant with FSC Standards earlier this year, it sued the independent auditors and suppressed the audit reports. Those reports are still hidden from the public and Resolute is still selling FSC-certified products from the would-be failed forests.
Resolute is one of the largest forestry companies in Canada. Last year, they had over 4 billion dollars in sales. According to the recent MacLean’s magazine article “Behind Closed Doors”, Resolute is a client of one of Canada’s most influential lobbyists.
What does all of this money and power buy you? Apparently, for Resolute, it allows them to play by a different set of rules. They are exempt from important Provincial legislation to protect the environment, federal science does not apply to them, and they can sue independent auditors if they don’t agree with their findings. Does this seem like a corporation that needs our help?
Published in the Chronicle-Journal, December 6, 2014