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·11· Public criticism met by lawsuits in court

The Walrus: Code of Silence, Nov. 2011 25-Oct-2011 [771]

• An academic book, a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, and a question: is Canadian law failing **free speech?** by Candice Vallantin FrontierFrom the November 2011 magazine

Part of Courts

In 2008, Les Éditions Écosociété, a tiny Montreal publishing house, released a 348-page treatise on human rights and environmental violations by Canadian mining companies overseas. Noir Canada: Pillage, corruption, et criminalité en Afrique (Black Canada: Plundering, Corruption, and Crime in Africa) presents evidence for Barrick Gold’s alleged complicity in the deaths of fifty-two miners in Tanzania, and for Banro Corporation’s fuelling of violent conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The book, based on previously published accounts from the international press and UN reports, was intended as a study, not a bestseller. “We were expecting to sell 700 copies at $34 each,” says Elodie Comtois, Écosociété’s head of communications.

Immediately after the book’s launch, Barrick Gold sued Écosociété and the three authors — Alain Deneault, Delphine Abadie, and William Sacher — for a cool $5 million in damages to its reputation and $1 million for malicious intent. Banro followed suit six weeks later, citing $5 million for libel (both companies claim the allegations are false). Significantly, as this goes to press, at least one of the trials is under way in Quebec.