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End of the Barrick Gold Lawsuit: Écosociété Settles Out of Court
October 20th, 2011

At the conclusion of a judicial struggle that has lasted three and a half years, Éditions Écosociété has arrived at an out-of-court agreement with the multinational Barrick Gold. In order to put an end to the proceedings that Barrick Gold instituted against it in April 2008 for the sum of 6 million dollars, and for this reason only, Éditions Écosociété is ceasing the publication of the book Noir Canada and made a payment to Barrick through their insurer.

This withdrawal does not mean an end to the work of the authors, Delphine Abadie, Alain Deneault, and William Sacher, nor of the publisher. Over several years of existence, Noir Canada (Richard-Ares Prize 2008) has reached thousands of readers. Its analysis of the role of Canadian companies in Africa has enabled the beginning of a necessary debate about the judicial shelter that Canada is for global mining enterprises and has made Canadians realize that their savings are invested in these controversial activities. Éditions Écosociété remains convinced that the work Noir Canada merits being published.

Noir Canada calls for an independent commission of inquiry that would shed light on the numerous cases of abuse that have been committed in Africa, according to a plethora of international documentation. Écosociété and the authors of Noir Canada continue to call for the holding of such an inquiry.

With this settlement, Éditions Écosociété and the authors of Noir Canada will be spared a 40-day process and multiple procedures, those procedures alone representing colossal financial, human, and moral cost, despite the provision of $143 000 for expenses that judge Guylaine Beaugé ordered Barrick Gold to pay them on August 12. She concluded in her judgement that the lawsuit had an appearance of abuse.

Banro Lawsuit in Ontario

In spite of this settlement, the battle is not coming to an end and your support remains essential.

Indeed, although the Barrick Gold litigation is now behind its defenders, Éditions Écosociété and the authors of Noir Canada still face a 5-million-dollar defamation suit, instituted by the multinational Banro in Ontario. They are still awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court so that the suit may be repatriated to Québec, Ontario having not yet adopted an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law.

Renewed Engagement by Écosociété

Éditions Écosociété intends to continue its work as a critical, committed, and independent publisher. It intends to continue, in spite of the threats that weigh against books and thought, to defend the freedom of expression that is necessary in public debate, critical thought, and democratic life. It equally prides itself in continuing to publish the author Alain Deneault, whose writings constitute a precious contribution to critical thought. Moreover, it is announcing herewith the publication this fall of his next work, Faire l’économie de la haine (The Economy of Hate), a collection of texts expounding cultural forms of an “insidious censure” aiming to impede critical reasoning.

The Future of Freedom of Expression

The adventure of this publication, these three and a half years of struggle for the freedom of expression, the freedom to publish, and the right to information, during which Écosociété and the authors of Noir Canada have received the support of thousands of citizens, hundreds of university professors, dozens of jurists, and numerous organizations and public personalities. Your generous encouragement, your judicious analyses, your freethinking spirit, your thirst for debating complex questions, as well as the narration of your own struggles have inspired us during these years. It is a treasure that no mighty person can take away from us, a solid base for our most beautiful projects.

The actions of Écosociété, along with several others, notably those of l’Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmoshpérique (AQLPA – Québec Association of Battle Against Atmospheric Pollution), have contributed to the adoption of An Act to amend the Code of Civil Procedure to prevent improper use of the courts and promote freedom of expression and citizen participation in public debate, the only legislation of its kind in force in Canada. If freedom of expression is still threatened in Canada, notably because of the long reach accorded by the courts to the protection of reputation, this affair demonstrates the true political will of the citizens to defend it.

For all of this, we express our profound gratitude.

More than ever, the defence of free speech passes also by a debate about access to justice pour all.

The authors of Noir Canada have probably done nothing more than the work that one expects of thinkers and researchers at the heart of each community. Behind the lawsuit against them, rests a fundamental question: can one still be critical in our society? Must power (and money) always take precedent over the right to know, or at least over the right to question publicly? Beyond that which is covered by the notion of defamation, it is the future of thought that will be played out here.

Pierre Noreau, « Le pouvoir…contre le savoir ?  (Power … versus knowledge?)»,

Le Devoir, December 10 2010

Please find the declaration signed jointly by Barrick Gold, Éditions Écosociété, Delphine Abadie, Alain Deneault, and William Sacher, as part of the agreement.


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