Mark your calendars for 28 May - the day the Norwegian-owned company Cermaq (as represented in Canada by their subsidaries Mainstream & EWOS) attempts to abuse the Canadian courts to muzzle global criticism of the salmon farming industry. The sound of silence emanating from the 'Salmon Farming Kills' lawsuit could be deafening.
The BC Court of Appeal will hear Cermaq's appeal starting at 10am - more details online here.
The appeal hearing in the 'Salmon Farming Kills' lawsuit will be a defining moment for free speech and will define what statements are acceptable in Harper's Canada. Will Canada allow a Norwegian Government-owned corporation to dictate the terms of free speech?
Cermaq's lawyers are seeking a permanent injunction which is so wide and broad that it would rule out over fifty statements:
Documents filed by Cermaq's lawyers in January 2013 detailed:
Read the appeal documents - detailing Cermaq's legal case - in full online here
The permanent injunction would not only apply to Don Staniford and the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture but also to ANY person or company aware of the injunction i.e. the general public and the media. On the last day of the 20-day trial in 2012, Cermaq's lawyers detailed the Draconian terms of the injunction - referred to as the 'No Future Defamation Term':
If Cermaq's lawyers are successful at securing a permanent injunction it will severely curtail freedom of speech not just in Canada but globally via the internet.
Cermaq's heavy-handed lawyers at Fasken Martineau spell out in black and white what they consider to be the 'Defamatory Words' in their Amended Notice of Civil Claim (52 statements in total):
Cermaq's clumsy attempts to muzzle global criticism are a classic example of how corporations do business. Corporations, required by law to promote and pursue their own interests above all others, “prey upon and exploit others without regard for legal rules or moral limits,” writes Canadian law professor Joel Bakan in his book "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Power".
Here's an idiot's guide to how the case could define the words which campaigners, the general public and the news media are permitted to use and more importantly not permitted to use.
For example, the following comment from Otto Langer in the documentary film "Farmed Salmon Exposed: The Global Reach of the Norwegian Salmon Farming Industry" would have to be taken down from the internet:
"If the fish farmers want to play the same game as the cigarette manufacturers did for many years and live in denial they’re welcome to it but it’s not going to give rise to any solutions"
The North Atlantic Salmon Fund would have to remove this statement from their web-site. And Friends of Clayoquot Sound would certainly have to burn all copies of this smoking hot sticker:
Dr. David Suzuki would be hounded by Cermaq's lawyers for his statement in 2004 that farmed salmon is "poison".
The Toronto Star newspaper who published the original article and the industry trade publication Growfish who reported on Suzuki's comments could also be in deep water with Cermaq's lawyers. Such brutal censorship is perversely ironic given Norway's global reputation as a bastion of free speech and award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 to a Chinese dissident.
In practical terms, the media's reporting of salmon farming news would be drastically changed.
CBC News and The Canadian Press would be banned from reporting on the fact that Norwegian-owned salmon farms kill sea lions.
CBC News would be barred from reporting on peer-reviewed scientific research detailing how sea lice from salmon farms kill wild salmon.
And another dead unfunny cartoon joking about salmon farmers killing sea lions (a sense of humour would be a serious offence according to Cermaq's lawyers).
Norway's state broadcaster NRK would be banned from using the offending mock cigarette packets in their reporting on the lawsuit - and previous news reports would have to be removed from the internet:
Norway's other TV station, TV2, would also have to remove offending images and news reports on the lawsuit:
Watch a video report from TV2 before it is removed from the internet by Cermaq's lawyers online via "Don kjemper mot norsk lakseoppdrett"
The Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet could be in hot water for their 2009 article on the deaths of divers at salmon farms in Chile operated by the Norwegian-owned companies Marine Harvest and Cermaq.
Anyone posting the Dagbladet news article on Facebook or the offending cigarette packet featuring the same photo stating the fact that salmon farming kills workers would be liable to follow up action from Cermaq's lawyers.
Dagbladet - and other newspapers - would have to refrain from citing any of the 52 statements itemised by Cermaq's lawyers in the 'Defamatory Words'. Dagbladet's 2011 article - "Norsk oppdrettsgigant saksøker miljøvernaktivist" - would be removed from the internet as it repeats the 'Defamatory Words':
In the United Kingdom, the Guardian newspaper would be breaching Cermaq's permanent injunction if they repeated this month's reporting on Norwegian-owned Marine Harvest:
The Sunday Times would be in the cross-hairs of Cermaq's lawyers if they repeated last weekend's report of how Norwegian-owned salmon farms kill seals in Scotland.
And Brian May of the rock band 'Queen' would be asked by Cermaq's lawyers to refrain from Tweeting any reference to salmon farms killing seals!
Read more via "Celebrity Support for Salmon Farm Cull!"
Fishermen in British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California who display the popular bumper sticker "Friends Don't Let Friends Eat Farmed Salmon" would be asked to remove it by Cermaq's lawyers.
Ecotrust would be asked to stop selling their "Friends Don't Let Friends Eat Farmed Salmon" stickers at their 'Salmon Nation' store.
Over 7,000 people who like Facebook's "Friends Don't Let Friends Eat Farmed Fish" will be asked by Cermaq's lawyers to dislike the offending page.
The Facebook page also cites an article - "Salmon farms killing wild stocks: study" - published in The Globe & Mail which will fall foul of Cermaq's censorship.
The peer-reviewed scientific paper cited by The Globe & Mail would also be deemed defamatory and Cermaq's lawyers would write to the Public Library of Science asking them to remove all reference of the truth.
National Geographic would also have to delete reference to the above scientific paper and the suggestion it their 2008 news article that salmon farming "spreads disease":
Under Stephen Harper the Canadian Government has already clamped down on intellectual freedom in Canada's libraries.
What next, will the Harper Government start burning books like Hitler's Germany?
One book under threat of being burned is the award-winning "A Stain Upon the Sea" - co-authored by Don Staniford along with Alexandra Morton, Otto Langer and Stephen Hume of the Vancouver Sun.
Cermaq's lawyers are so Nazi-like in their quest to suppress free speech that they are seeking for the publisher's blurb above to be exorcised!
Read the offending chapter - "Silent Spring of the Sea" - online here before all copies are burned or buried in a deep Norwegian fjord!
If Cermaq's lawyers have their wicked way then Harper's Canada will become a much scarier place after 28 May 2013.
Cermaq's censorship police will certainly be asking You Tube to remove the offending "Hitler Loves Fish Farms, Not Activists" spoof video.
And anyone in cyberspace caught displaying any of the offending mock cigarette packets will face the wrath of Cermaq's gestapo-like censors.
Save Bantry Bay would be in flagrant violation of Cermaq's permanent injunction!
Facebook friend Gary Robar in Nova Scotia could be faced with legal action following a negative ruling in the Court of Appeal in British Columbia in a case involving a Norwegian multinational!
Howard Breen would also be in breach of Cermaq's permanent injunction with his Facebook profile photo:
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who represent the traditional owners of British Columbia, could also be told by lawyers representing a Norwegian-owned company with a head office in Oslo operating on unceded Coast Salish territory to amend their offending web-site:
Cafe Press would have to stop selling "Wild Salmon Don't Do Drugs" bumper sticks from the Georgia Strait Alliance.
The Tyee would have to remove their 2005 article featuring Chief Darren Blaney's lawsuit against Norwegian-owned giant Marine Harvest - including a photo of Chief Blaney outside the BC courts along with Chief Bill Cranmer:
Or alternatively, people could do what I did to Cermaq's lawyers when I replied in March 2011 to their original request to remove all 'Defamatory Words'.
Read in full via Cermaq's Amended Notice of Civil Claim
Just in case Cermaq's owners in the Norwegian Government didn't get the memo here it is again:
Whether Cermaq's lawyers will be able to muzzle the general public remains to be seen. Cermaq's lawsuit certainly makes you want to scream!
Come to the BC Court of Appeal on 28 May to see how the case concludes - for one day only (although the implications for free speech could last a lifetime)!
And don't forget your cigarette packets!
Read more on the 'Salmon Farming Kills' lawsuit via:
Read all the documents and case files online here