CAUT/ACPPU Bulletin Online
Barrick Gold Corp. and Noir Canada publisher and authors have reached an out-of-court settlement, ending a legal dispute over the book critiquing the Canadian mining industry’s actions in Africa.
Earlier this year, a Quebec Superior Court justice ruled Barrick had to pay $143,000 to the book’s three authors and publisher, Les Éditions Écosociété Inc., to prepare their defense in a “seemingly abusive” SLAPP lawsuit — a strategic lawsuit against public participation.
Barrick said it intended to appeal the court’s decision while continuing to pursue the $6 million defamation claim launched against the group in 2008.
But in a joint statement issued Oct. 18, the parties announced they had reached a settlement that included a significant payment to Barrick and agreement to stop publishing the book.
“The settlement was only made for the sole purpose of resolving the three-and-a-half year legal battle,” says Noir Canada author Alain Deneault, “which means we can return to having our discussions back in the public sphere, instead of the courtroom.”
The authors maintain that the book deserves to be published and that there should still be an inquiry into the relationship between Canadian mining corporations, armed conflict, and political actors in Africa.
“We don’t do legal work,” says Deneault, “but we understand that there are a number of documented allegations in these areas, and a large presence of transnational mining companies, and that the allegations need to be investigated.”
Montreal law professor Pierre Noreau and 14 other of Quebec’s leading academics and authors published an open letter Oct. 19 in Le Devoir warning that the settlement shows “that the lawsuit was from the very beginning not a procedure meant to refute but rather to silence the authors and their legitimate questions.”
The settlement offers a chance for Barrick to prevent evidence from becoming public through the judicial system that could tarnish the company’s image.
The authors, on the other hand, “were desperately trying to extricate themselves from a legal unbearable straitjacket,” the letter states.
Deneault is now focusing on promotion of his latest book, Imperial Canada Inc.: Legal Haven of Choice for the World’s Mining Industries, which has also been the target of threatened legal action from Barrick.