To Her Excellency Else Berit Eikeland firstname.lastname@example.org
Norwegian Ambassador to Canada
Trade Commissioner and Consul
Mr. Arnfinn Hattrem
I am writing in regard to the exceptional circumstances of the Staniford vs Mainstream defamation trial ending today in Vancouver.
While Mr Staniford never named Mainstream in his campaign that drew parallels between the way Big Tobacco covered the truth about their product and the way the 92% Norwegian - owned salmon farming industry is operating in BC, Mainstream is suing Staniford. Evidence was heard that despite the industry being aware of cancer causing contaminants in farm salmon, they produced an ad campaign in BC with the text:
“Farmed salmon is natural, nutritious and free of contaminants”
Cermaq, Mainstream's parent company, is largely owned by the Norwegian government. In 2010, Norway's Nobel Peace prize was awarded to a free speech dissident in China. China retaliated by making it nearly impossible to export Norwegian farm salmon into China. They sited bacterial contamination. The many articles on this suggest this created extreme hardship for Norwegian salmon farmers, who had invested large sums courting China's fresh salmon market. Some articles suggest that Norwegian fish farmers pressured Norway to fix this. Is the Staniford trial, Norway's response?
Last fall we received European ISA virus positive test results from the OIE reference lab for ISA virus in BC wild salmon. The BC Minister of Agriculture and Foods, Don McRae responded immediately to say BC's Premier would personally inform China that these reports were false, that there is no ISA virus in BC.
Later Dr. Klotins of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) testified at the Cohen Inquiry in December:
DR KLOTINS: " …So if, let’s say, we do find ISA in BC and all of a sudden markets are closed, our role [CFIA] is then to try to renegotiate or negotiate market access to those countries. Now what it will be is a matter of they'll let us know what the requirements are. We'll let them know what we can do and whether we can meet that market access. If we can't meet it, then there will be no trade basically."
BC farm salmon sales to China jumped from $249,000 to $3.8 million between 2010 and 2011. So what the Norwegians companies lost in Norway they perhaps made up with their BC operations. China is clearly essential to Norway's salmon farmers in BC as the price of farm salmon is collapsing worldwide and Norwegian companies in BC are firing people and downsizing. I don't know why ISA virus is sensitive subject to China, but clearly it is to have a minister make such a statement in the face of the evidence.
In an extraordinary turn of events, Mainstream has recently requested that Justice Adair consider all the evidence of the 20-day trial, today, the last day of the trial, and to make a decision today whether to grant an immediate injunction against Mr. Staniford and others speaking about salmon farming. Canada is deporting Staniford before the end of the month.
In the course of the Cohen Inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser sockeye a document was produced by Canada and included in a report that was made an exhibit it is an email from Georges Lemieux, senior trade commissioner with the Canadian Embassy in Oslo. It includes:
"The list of “challenges” for Cermaq in Canada is narrowed down to: lack of long term policy and strategy for aquaculture development; lack of skilled labour in remote communities, .... Complexity of negotiations with Fist Nations and difficulty bringing these to conclusion within a specified time frame, lack of insurance to take into consideration BC’s specific environment, and desire for more support from governments in countering myths and disinformation about the aquaculture industry. Cermaq maintains that they have instituted sound environmental and health practices in their BC operations (in contrast to some investors, past and present). It is interesting to note that aquaculture in Norway does not attract the criticism of the environmental groups that is has in Canada. On the latter, we provided Isaksen the link to DFO’s “Myths and realities about salmon farming” which he deemed a good start but would like to see better marketed and publicized to balance NGO’s claims about the industry.
Cermaq is also frustrated that permits to increase production (more sites or increased production in existing sites) in British Columbia are often bogged down in lengthy negotiations involving a confusing number of players without a clear support for the industry from the Government. Mr. Isaksen finds negotiations with First Nations (Mainstream’s 30 sites puts them in contact with 12 different bands) particularly difficult noting “go/no-go” deadlines …."
From this it suggests that Cermaq asked the Canadian Government to sell the salmon farming industry to the people of Canada, that Canada complied and Cermaq considered this a good start, but not enough to win public opinion.
I am writing to ask if the Norwegian government is possibly reaching into the courts of Canada, through Mainstream, a wholly owned subsidiary, to silence Mr. Staniford to make up for the problems caused by the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. Is Norway taking away free speech from one man because of the events set in motion by awarding a very different man for free speech? Is the Norwegian government doing this because they cannot retract the Nobel Peace prize, as the government is not in control of this prize? And finally does this represent the Norwegian people fairly?