This past week, the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), Montreal, Que., Canada, presented the John Dobson Medal for Free Enterprise to Richard Garneau (photo), president and CEO of Resolute Forest Products.
"We award this medal to individuals who defend free enterprise, among other things by standing up to lobby groups that attempt to undermine economic end entrepreneurial freedom. And on this count, this year's recipient is quite a fighter!" said Michel Kelly-Gagnon, president and CEO of the MEI.
When Greenpeace began targeting his company and his workers by claiming they "destroyed forests" and by producing multiple disinformation campaigns aimed at making them lose important customers, Richard Garneau decided to stand up to them by adopting an attitude of, in his own words, moral leadership. "If you believe you're on firm ground, you stand firm," Garneau pointed out.
Thus, contrary to many companies in similar situations, Resolute decided to meet Greenpeace's repeated attacks head-on. And in the end, forced to justify its allegations in a court of law, the activist group finally recognized that its accusations against Resolute were "heated rhetoric" and consisted of "non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion," and should be understood as "figurative rather than literal" and not expose them to any legal responsibility. They also recognized that Resolute had caused "no loss of forest cover"—serious admissions, which unfortunately come only after years of irresponsible attacks.
"For his courage, and for his commitment to his shareholders, to his employees, and to the rural families and communities for whom the responsible harvesting of the forest is a way of life, Richard Garneau embodies the type of person John Dobson would have been proud to see rewarded with a medal bearing his name. Our society needs more businesspeople willing to stand up to defend the principles and benefits of the free market," concluded Kelly-Gagnon.
The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its studies and its conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms.