The fight for freedom of speech is now at the half-way point of the scheduled 20 day defamation trial pitting Don Staniford Vs. Norway’s salmon farming giant Cermaq. Cermaq’s case for the prosecution against defendant Don Staniford closed on Day 10 (Friday 27 January) of the ‘Salmon Farming Kills’ trial in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Mr. Staniford's lawyer David Sutherland will open the case for the defence on Monday (30 January) calling Dr. John Volpe as an expert witness. Mr. Staniford is expected to take the stand on Tuesday (31 January) or Wednesday (1 February) for 3-4 days perhaps running into the week beginning Monday 6 February. Mr. Staniford has now raised over $24,000 alone from nearly 300 donations from members of the public via the fund-raising web-site Go Fund Me.
Mr. Staniford has also received 60,000 NOK ($10,000) from a group of salmon fishermen in Norway called Reddvillaksen. A Swedish fly-fishing magazine - Fiske Journalen - also issued a plea for support earlier this week. Now that Mr. Staniford can pay his lawyer at least half the legal bills the trial is likely to go the full 20 days (until 10 February).
Judging by all the evidence presented so far by the plaintiff (effectively the Norwegian Government – as represented by Cermaq’s subsidiary Mainstream Canada/EWOS Canada) the case for the prosecution relies heavily on proving malice (read more details via ‘Week 1 Review: Cermaq Vs. Staniford’). Those in court this week were left scratching their heads in bemusement at the patent lack of concrete evidence to support Cermaq’s cryptic case that Mr. Staniford actually defamed the plaintiff (named as Mainstream Canada).
The defendant Mr. Staniford clearly views the lawsuit as a slap in the face of freedom of speech – read more details via 'Salmon SLAPP Spawns Heavyweight Fish Fight' and watch video report online here and here. In his no word, one finger response to Cermaq’s lawyers in March 2011 – made public on Friday (27 January) - Mr. Staniford made his feelings abundantly clear.
From: Don Staniford [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 23 March 2011 13:00
Subject: RE: Mainstream Canada
“Mr. Staniford is actuated by malice,” said Justice Elaine Adair in summing up Cermaq’s arguments in the first exchange of Day 10 (Friday 27 January). “Mr. Staniford makes a direct comparison of the plaintiff with tobacco products.”
[Please note, however, that nowhere on the cigarette packets does it name a particular company or country – view a gallery of cigarette packets online here]
In a comical interlude the judge (Justice Elaine Adair) mistakes Cermaq’s legal counsel David Wotherspoon for Mr. Staniford’s legal counsel David Sutherland.
“We’re easily confused,” quips Mr. Wotherspoon who is dwarfed by his counterpart Mr. Sutherland.
“We’re so alike,” adds Mr. Sutherland who at 6 feet 5 inches tall towers over Mr. Wotherspoon.
“I am very very concerned that the court admits unreliable evidence,” argued Mr. Staniford’s lawyer David Sutherland. “We don’t have the first place to land on – we have no foundation. My friend cannot just make this problem disappear. It goes to reliability. If I cannot rely on it, how can it be admissible?”
However, Justice Adair rules that the expert report by Dr. Michael Gallo, which was the subject of much debate and cross-examination on Wednesday (25 January) when Dr. Gallo testified via video link, is admissible.
Cermaq’s legal team now turn to Mr. Wotherspoon’s understudy Gavin Cameron. “Captain Condom as far as I know did not write to the Vatican,” says Mr. Cameron reading out from the transcript of Mr. Staniford at ‘Examination for Discovery.’
Cermaq’s case appears to be arguing that the involvement of Mr. Staniford with the Superheroes 4 Salmon and his work in particular with Captain Condom is evidence of malice. Moreover, the fact that Captain Condom failed to send a letter to the Pope is viewed by Cermaq's lawyers as evidence that Mr. Staniford is flaccid in his statements.
Mr. Cameron then turns to an image of the ‘MOD Squad’ which was shown to the BC Salmon Farmers Association’s Mary Ellen Walling earlier in the week (for more details read ‘Blowing Smoke on Salmon’).
“MOD Squad refers to the ‘Merchants of Death’,” points out Mr. Cameron (who spends most breaks smoking in the courtyard).
When Mr. Staniford launched the ‘Salmon Farming Kills’ campaign in January 2011 he included reference to the satirical film ‘Thank You For Smoking’ and to a particular scene where the ‘MOD Squad’ (the PR representatives of the tobacco, alcohol and gun lobby) met for lunch.
The GAAIA web-site (which was re-launched last week via www.salmonfarmingkills.com) states:
“Unconfirmed reports suggest Marine Harvest is in negotiation with director Jason Reitman for a follow up to “Thank you for Smoking”. The new film – “Thank you for Salmon Farming” – could star ‘the Marine Harvest-Man’ and 'Mainstream-Man' vying for the role made famous by 'the Marlboro Man'. The salmon farmers would be welcomed by the tobacco, alcohol and firearms industries as new members of the ‘MOD Squad’ (Merchants of Death).
Watch the 'Merchants of Death' scene in 'Thank You for Smoking'.
Watch the trailer for 'Thank You for Smoking'.
Where there's smoke there's fire. Visit 'BC Salmon Facts' for information on salmon farming in British Columbia.”
[Read more via ‘GAAIA launches new 'Salmon Farming Kills' campaign at Seafood Summit’]
Mr. Cameron then refers to Mr. Staniford’s criticisms on his Facebook page of David Suzuki and comments made by David Suzuki in The Toronto Star in 2004 relating to his opinion that farmed salmon was “poison”. “That was before David Suzuki started drinking the Kool Aid and prostituted himself to Marine Harvest,” said Mr. Staniford (in a passage read out by Mr. Cameron).
[Read details on how the David Suzuki Foundation sold out to Marine Harvest online here]
Mr. Cameron now focuses on comments by Mr. Staniford in relation to “getting away with murder.” Mr. Cameron reads from an exchange during ‘Examination for Discovery’ between Cermaq’s interrogator Mr. Wotherspoon and Mr. Staniford. “Did you say Cermaq is a murderer?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon. “The phrase ‘getting away with murder’ is a colloquial expression,” replied Mr. Staniford.
“Do you know what murder is?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon. “Yes, it’s the taking of life,” replied Mr. Staniford.
“I thought I was hallucinating,” said a university professor from Simon Fraser University who brought several of her students along to watch the trial. “This is turning into a farce,” said another member of the public gallery.
“This is bullshit,” whispered another as Cermaq’s lawyer read out transcripts from the ‘Examination for Discovery’ – an interrogation process which took place over 3 days in September and December. “It’s like pulling teeth,” said another as the torturous process of reading transcripts selected from over 1,700 questions put to the defendant were read into the record (so-called ‘read-ins’).
“I have great sympathy for you my friend,” interjects Mr. Sutherland as Mr. Cameron takes a sip of water and catches his breath (the process of ‘read-ins’ – reading in transcripts into the court record - is tedious and long-winded). “It’s like chewing a rope. You have bubbles in the corner of your mouth.”
Mr. Sutherland then asks Justice Adair if there will be time to open his case today and then her answer will dramatically alter the way he spends the lunch hour. “Rest assured Mr. Sutherland you will not have to open today,” says Justice Adair.
Following the lunch break Mr. Cameron continues his read-ins starting with question 757 – that’s 757 questions fired at Mr. Staniford during ‘Examination for Discovery’ and we’re not even half way through the read-ins yet!
Mr. Cameron returns back to Captain Condom and correspondence with the Cohen Commission on Captain Condom and the other Superheroes 4 Salmon not being allowed into the public hearings dressed in costume.
Watch footage of the Superheroes 4 Salmon outside the Cohen Commission - online here.
Mr. Cameron refers to Mr. Staniford’s forthcoming report ‘Smoke on the Water, Cancer on the Coast’ (delayed due to the lawsuit but scheduled for publication in March 2012).
In an exchange between Mr. Wotherspoon and Mr. Staniford, Mr. Wotherspoon refers to the environmentalists ‘losing the PR war.’ “I don’t think we’re losing the PR war,” replied Mr. Staniford. Mr. Cameron, who has just passed the 1,000 mark in the read-in questions, is now blowing bubbles from the corner of his mouth.
[Read more via Alexandra Morton’s blog ‘The Canadian Fish Health Agency wins the war .... against us’]
“Yes, I have described some NGOs as prostitutes,” admitted Mr. Staniford on the record during ‘Examination for Discovery’.
“He called me a fundamentalist but I think that’s a compliment,” said Mr. Staniford in his testimony.
Mr. Cameron now refers to an article by Elena Edwards called ‘Salmon Snafus’ (which included: “I know, the lies are painful to watch but it's best to know what kind of shite is being fed to the public in order to counter it”).
Mr. Cameron again refers to the report ‘Smoke on the Water, Cancer on the Coast’ and a reference to Jason Reitman (producer of the film ‘Thank You for Smoking’) being interested in a sequel involving salmon farming with Marine Harvest and Mainstream vying for the role of the Marlboro Man.
Mr. Cameron – reading from question 1,185 – refers back to Mr. Staniford’s Facebook page and to the comment: “I’m as serious as cancer, salmon farming kills.” If music was allowed, the 80s hit ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ would be echoing around courtroom #52.
Mr. Cameron now turns to the issue of the GAAIA web-site (www.gaaia.org) which was taken down in March following a threatening letter from Cermaq’s lawyers. “I am a little worried about what you are referring to,” says Justice Adair. “Luckily enough, Mr. Staniford has re-posted his web-site. It’s back online and Mr. Staniford is going to speak to that next week.”
“Are you going to let me go off and look at the web-site on my own?” asks Justice Adair. “No, my lady, we can print off what you need to see,” replies Mr. Cameron.
Mr. Cameron now turns to correspondence discussed at ‘Examination for Discovery’ involving Mr. Staniford and graphic designer Anissa Reed. An email referring to ‘Juan Baby’ was discussed and Mr. Staniford was asked who ‘Juan Baby’ was. “That’s Juan Carlos Cardenas from Ecoceanos in Chile,” explained Mr. Staniford.
Two new cigarette packets, using graphics from adverts taken out in Chile, were referred to a time-bomb image and “Salmon Farming is Pure Aquatic Terrorism.”
Mr. Cameron now refers to the discussion during ‘Examination for Discovery’ of further cigarette packets. “Cermaq is a Scream” and “Killing the King of Fish” are referred to.
Other cigarette packets featuring pirates are cited – including “Robbing Pedro to Pay John” (in reference to Marine Harvest owner John Fredriksen), “Robbing Pedro to Pay Geir” (in reference to Cermaq’s former CEO Geir Isaksen), “Robbing Pedro to Pay Trond” (in reference to Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry Trond Giske) and “Robbing Pedro to Pay Jens” (in reference to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg).
The phrase ‘robbing Pedro to pay Paul’ was taken from an essay by Dr. Daniel Pauly – read online here. For more details on how we’re fishing down the food chain and farming up the food chain read Dr. Daniel Pauly’s ‘Aquacalypse Now: The End of Fish’.
Mr. Cameron now turns to the Wild Salmon First web-site (www.wildsalmonfirst.org) which Mr. Staniford also operates.
“You took photos at the Cohen Commission?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon at ‘Examination for Discovery’ in December (Mr. Staniford was forced back to face further questioning in December – after a first round of questioning in September). “Yes, it was $25 million public inquiry and I was allowed to take photos of public officials,” replied Mr. Staniford (for more information read ‘Cohen In Camera – Photo Review of the Salmon Inquiry’).
“Are you suggesting Justice Cohen is on drugs?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon in reference to a Superheroes 4 Salmon blog entitled ‘What’s Cohen On?’ “No, I was suggesting that the Cohen Commission had drunk the Kool Aid as in the Jonestown massacre which was on the front cover of Time magazine and that the Cohen Commission had been misled and duped.”
Mr. Carmeron then turns to the You Tube video clip ‘Hitler Loves Fish Farms, Not Activists.’ Mr. Staniford explained on testimony that this was a famous scene in the film ‘Downfall’ and that there were lots of other videos out there. “It’s a spoof – they’re parodies,” suggested Mr. Staniford under interrogation from Mr. Wotherspoon.
Mr. Staniford then pointed out that the video ‘Hitler Loves Fish Farms, Not Activists’ was used in the offending blog to illustrate various issues in the story – including specific reference to the Cohen Commission.
“Are you suggesting that the Cohen Commission and Harper Government are like the Hitler Government?” asked Mr. Wotherspooon. “Yes,” replied Mr. Staniford. “There are similarities in relation to state censorship.”
Mr. Cameron – who is now on question 1,588 – reads from a passage in the transcript where Mr. Wotherspoon and Mr. Staniford engage in verbal jousting. “It’s not a yes or no answer,” said Mr. Staniford following a period of repeated questioning on a single line of inquiry.
“I’m going to suggest that it’s an evasive answer,” said Mr. Wotherspoon. “I’m going to suggest that it’s a weasel question,” replied Mr. Staniford.
“You’re making a false assumption,” stated Mr. Staniford in reply to another hostile barrage of questions. “Do seals smoke?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon (who clearly doesn’t get Mr. Staniford’s point).
“I’m not sure they’ve done experiments force-feeding people cancer-causing chemicals in farmed salmon,” said Mr. Staniford in response to another verbal assault by Mr. Wotherspoon demanding evidence and a causal link between farmed salmon consumption and cancer.
“It’s incontrovertible fact,” said Mr. Staniford in relation to evidence of cancer-causing chemicals in farmed salmon (read the scientific papers online here).
Mr. Cameron then turns to a sticker produced by Friends of Clayoquot Sound a decade ago which has the tag-line: “Feeding my kids farmed salmon is like buying them smokes!”
Mr. Staniford pointed out that this sticker was before his time in Canada and was the work of Ed May (who now works for MP Denise Savoie).
Mr. Cameron now refers to Mr. Staniford’s response to Cermaq’s demand letter of 18 March 2011 which gave a deadline of 1pm on 23 March 2011 for reply.
“Your letter received the reply it deserved,” said Mr. Staniford. “Why do you say that’s the reply it deserved?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon.
“Because your letter was wholly disrespectful and an abuse of the law,” replied Mr. Staniford. “It was a blatant SLAPP suit and that was my response.”
“And was that your response, we’ll call it the finger, directed at me or was that directed at the plaintiff?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon. “That was my response to your letter,” replied Mr. Staniford.
“Are you sending that response to the salmon farming industry, to the plaintiff or to me personally?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon who seemed amused by the reply (he chuckled as he showed a copy to the court reporter).
“You asked – you demanded a response by 1pm on 23 March and that was my reply,” said Mr. Staniford. “Okay – so you don’t know who you directed it to other than that you sent it to me?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon.
“I sent it to you who are a representative of Cermaq,” replied Mr. Staniford.
[Read Mr. Staniford’s more detailed response to the King of Norway, Cermaq’s CEO and the Norwegian Government online here]
Mr. Cameron then turns to a blog on Superheroes 4 Salmon which featured Cermaq’s PR flak Grant Warkentin. “Why did you post this?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon in the ‘Examination for Discovery’ in December 2011. “Superheroes is a spoof satirical website and I felt that it was an issue worthy of public dissemination.”
Mr. Cameron is nearly done with his read-ins and is now at question 1655 - the bubbles in the corner of his mouth are frothing as his chewing the rope trick nears to a climax.
“Do you know Grant Warkentin?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon. “Yes, he’s the PR mouthpiece for Cermaq in Canada. Dressed as Captain Condom I gave him a condom in Campbell River in November 2010 and asked him to pass it onto his bosses to adopt safe salmon farming and stop the spread of STDs – Salmon Transferable Diseases,” replied Mr. Staniford. At least Mr. Warkentin appears to have a sense of humour unlike Cermaq's lawyers.
“Do you have any ill will toward him personally?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon. “I think he represents a company and he pedals propaganda which is erroneous and I think that he does is nauseating and reprehensible,” replied Mr. Staniford.
“Tell me if you have any ill will to him personally, leaving aside his profession?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon (clearly dynamite-fishing for evidence of malice).
“I think as a company representative, as a communications person for Cermaq in Canada that his job is to promote salmon farming and I’ve spent my life campaigning against salmon farming so we’re obviously on different sides of the PR war,” replied Mr. Staniford.
“So does that mean, yes, you have – because of the position he’s taken – ill will toward him?” asked Mr. Wotherspoon (still fishing for evidence of malice).
“No, I think professionally I’m opposed to his job and the job that he carries out on behalf of Cermaq in Canada, on behalf of Mainstream Canada, and the lies and the propaganda that he distributes in letters to newspapers, for example, claiming that ISA is not here in British Columbia and that is patently not the case,” replied Mr. Staniford.
Mr. Cameron then finishes his read-ins – question 1,702 – by quoting Mr. Wotherspoon demanding that Mr. Staniford produce further documentation and evidence in relation to the GAAIA web-site.
“Okay, it will be back online in a week or so,” replied Mr. Staniford. “So you can check it for yourself as well.”
Read more details online via ‘Salmon Wars – The Return of the GAAIA.’
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Cermaq!