Read this story from CBC.ca on anti-salmon farming activist Don Staniford’s recent victory in the BC Supreme Court in a defamation case brought against him by Norwegian salmon farming giant Cermaq-Mainstream for a controversial campaign that equated the industry’s practices with Big Tobacco. (Sept. 28, 2012)
An anti-salmon-farming activist has won another victory against the global aquaculture industry, but also has been harshly criticized by a B.C. Supreme Court justice
Justice Elaine Adair has dismissed a defamation case launched by the salmon-farming company Mainstream Canada against Don Staniford over a 2011 campaign that included images of cigarette-like packages and statements such as “Salmon Farming Kills Like Smoking.”
In her ruling published Friday, Adair said while the statements were defamatory and Staniford was motivated by malice, the activist honestly believed in what he was saying and animosity wasn’t his dominant purpose.
The ruling left officials at Mainstream Canada, a subsidiary of the Norwegian company Cermaq, disappointed.
But the British-born Staniford, who was removed from Canada this past February for overstaying a visitor’s permit, was in a celebratory mood.
“I am over the proverbial moon and feel extremely vindicated,” he said during a phone interview from Spain. “All along I knew that Cermaq [was] whistling in the dark.”
“This is a victory not just for Don Staniford against Mainstream Canada. This is a victory for environmental campaigners, social-justice campaigners across the world.”
Laurie Jensen, a spokeswoman for Mainstream Canada, said the company will be reviewing the ruling, noting it’s too early to say if it will appeal, and she defended the court action, saying it was the right thing to do.
“What we’re seeing is a character of a person,” she said. “And because, you know, he’s not found legally responsible doesn’t mean that, you know, he’s getting away with things.”
She said Adair’s ruling supports many of the company’s allegations, but she’s disappointed the judge dismissed the court action over fair comment, a ruling she called “outrageous.”
The court action was not the first faced by Staniford.
His first legal threat came from a Scottish salmon-farming company in 2001 but that never went to trial. He also won a new trial that has yet to happen after appealing a defamation victory by B.C.’s Creative Salmon Company in 2007.
The latest defamation case was launched by Mainstream Canada based on a Jan. 31, 2011 Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture campaign.
Court documents state a news release sent to media included four mock-cigarette packages, all modelled after the Marlboro brand, containing statements like, “Salmon Farming Kills,” “Salmon Farming is Poison,” “Salmon Farming is Toxic,” and “Salmon Farming Seriously Damages Health.”
Images also appeared on the global alliance’s website.