The little town of Saint-Félicien, in Quebec’s lovely Saguenay region, is under siege. The softwood lumber wars have broken out again, and that’s bad news. … Then there’s Greenpeace. “Greenpeace wants our total death!” mayor Gilles Potvin complained back in 2013. “If we listen to them, we can’t cut wood any more.”
Greenpeace has been waging a relentless campaign against Resolute Forest Products, the largest forest company in the region and in Canada. (It is the successor company to Abitibi and Bowater.)
Greenpeace has branded Resolute as a “forest destroyer” that is risking a “caribou herd death spiral” and harming the region’s First Nations. It has vigorously lobbied Resolute’s customers – including the world’s biggest book publishers – to boycott its paper and print products.
It claims it only wants reform. But it seems its more likely real aim is to destroy the company’s reputation and its business. When resource companies are attacked by environmental NGOs, their tendency is to go on the defensive and speak softly. Resolute is an exception.
It’s fighting back. In part, it’s personal. Richard Garneau, the company’s CEO, grew up in the Saguenay, and his family has lived there for generations. “For me, confronting this barrage of misinformation has been more than just about business ethics,” he writes on the corporate website. “I harvested trees by hand to pay my way through school.”
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