Resolute Forest Products is fighting back against years of attacks on its forestry practices by launching a publicity campaign that counters what it says are inaccurate allegations from environmental groups Greenpeace and ForestEthics.
Full page ads began to appear Friday in several Canadian newspapers. The Montreal-based company said it plans to spend “significant” sums on advertising in national and regional publications, direct mail, along with digital advertising and social media campaigns.
“We are turning the tables in a way that no company has ever done before and we believe that we are doing it for a just and worthy cause,” vice-president Seth Kursman said in an interview.
He said the campaign amplifies the support the company has received from forest community mayors, unions and First Nations who are concerned about jobs and their livelihoods.
“So much is at stake here. It’s our way of life. It’s our livelihoods that are under attack. The future of communities are held in the balance,” Kursman added.
Resolute (TSX:RFP) said it has lost millions of dollars in business after being subjected to unwarranted attacks, including that it has not fulfilled its pension obligations to employees, has harvested in non-permitted areas and ones that questioned the company’s certification status.
Greenpeace spokesman Richard Brooks called Resolute’s campaign a waste of money and said it was validation that its efforts have succeeded in pressuring the company.
“Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars for full page ads and now probably more than $1 million in legal fees battling us out in the courts why not put that money into convening people together to have a discussion about solutions,” he said.
Two years ago, Resolute launched a $7-million lawsuit against Greenpeace alleging defamation. The case was brought forth after Greenpeace accused it of building roads and cutting down trees in regions of Quebec the company had promised it wouldn’t touch, under an agreement on forest preservation and harvesting signed by environmental groups and Canada’s main forestry companies.
Greenpeace later retracted allegations it had made about road-building, but Resolute accused the group of repeating those charges.
Greenpeace later filed a statement of defence, saying its intention was never to harm the company but instead promote a vision of the boreal forest that includes Resolute and other companies playing an important role in a diversified forestry economy.
Brooks said Resolute recently rejected Greenpeace’s offer of mediation to resolve the lawsuit and find common ground on the Boreal Forest.