Salmon-farm critic gets costly rebuke

VANCOUVER — A salmon-farming critic won a recent defamation case in B.C. Supreme Court, but he’s now facing a hefty bill after being rebuked financially for his conduct during the same trial.

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Justice Elaine Adair awarded British-born Don Staniford only 25 per cent of his costs Wednesday and ordered him to pay Mainstream Canada, the salmon-farming company and plaintiff in the case, $8,300 for court fees.

The court usually awards costs to the winning party.

The case went to trial this year over a 2011 campaign that included images of cigarette packages with statements that read “Salmon Farming Kills Like Smoking.”

“I have concluded that Mr. Staniford’s open disrespect for the witnesses and disdain for the court and the judicial process are deserving of rebuke,” said Adair, who noted court rules allowed her to censure Staniford for his actions.

Adair said that during the 20-day trial, Staniford mocked the physical appearances of witnesses, accused a First Nations band of taking “blood money,” compared the trial to a “kangaroo court,” and relaunched his website campaign using a service provider outside of Canada.

The judge said that while Staniford “claims to be a champion of free speech,” he “cruelly and publicly mocks” people who have different opinions. She also pointed to examples of his “passive aggression.”

David Sutherland, Staniford’s lawyer, declined comment, saying he was reviewing the decision and the case is under appeal.

In September, Staniford said the court case had cost him about $100,000 even with Sutherland working at a reduced rate.

“The defence of free speech is sadly not free but it is a price worth paying,” Staniford said in an email to the Canadian Press. “Win, lose or draw the defence of truth and fair comment is a fight worth fighting.”

Laurie Jensen spokeswoman for Mainstream Canada, said no court date has been set for the appeal.

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