Wilderness Committee in court defending libel appeal Taseko Mines Ltd. appeals landmark libel decision loss in 2016
June 7, 2017
VANCOUVER - The Wilderness Committee is back in court this week as Taseko Mines Ltd. appeals a BC Supreme Court decision that rejected its libel suit against the organization.
Teztan Biny/Fish Lake site of proposed mine
The mining company launched the action in 2012 challenging communications published by the environmental group on their website as libelous. The Wilderness Committee was educating the public on the risks of Taseko’s proposed New Prosperity gold-copper mine which is located in Tsilhqot'in Nation territory, west of Williams Lake BC.
"It is unfortunate that we are required to return to court after successfully defending ourselves against these accusations,” said Joe Foy, National Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee.
"We are hoping that Taseko’s court loss will be upheld and that the right of all Canadians' to speak their mind – even against large companies - will be reaffirmed."
In his January 2016 ruling dismissing Taseko’s claims, Justice Gordon Funt ruled in favour of the Wilderness Committee, and in addition awarded special costs to the organization because Taseko had continued to pursue punitive damages long after it had become apparent that their claim had no merit.
Lawyer Dan Burnett successfully defended the Wilderness Committee against Taseko's action and will represent the organization in court again. “The claim was patently non-meritorious from the start” states the written argument filed by Burnett.
“The right of fair comment is one of the essential elements that make up our freedom of speech.”
This lawsuit is also seen by some as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP suit).
BC once had anti-SLAPP legislation, but in 2001 the provincial government under Liberal leader Gordon Campbell struck down the law stating it was not needed.
"I believe this court action was launched as an attempt to stop us from writing or speaking out about Taseko's terrible mine proposal," said Foy.
"I am hopeful that the incoming GreenNDP provincial government will re-introduce legislation prohibiting SLAPP suits."
The court proceedings will be webcast live by the BC Court of Appeal on Wednesday and Thursday.
For Immediate Release - June 7, 2017
For more information, please contact:
Joe Foy | National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
Additional Media Resources
WEBCAST: Taseko Mines Limited v. Western Canada Wilderness Committee