Protest held in Calgary against African trophy hunting
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, January 28, 2017 9:24PM EST
CALGARY -- Trophy hunting opponents demonstrated against an African hunting trade show in Calgary on Saturday, but an exhibitor says the hunters scored a victory with a court order against a group involved in the protest.
Earlier this month, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice R.A. Neufeld ordered that defamatory statements in an email posted on Ban African Trophy Hunting's Facebook page and other social media be removed.
The judge noted in his judgement that the email is "offensive in the extreme by virtue of implying that trophy hunting is analagous to slavery and extermination of Jews."
The group was involved in protests that were held outside venues in several Canadian cities last year where African Events Canada promoted trips to hunt animals such as lions, leopards and elephants.
The protests made it difficult for the show's organizers to secure venues.
"What we've done is we've identified that these people can't keep saying defamatory, slanderous things to and about hunters," said David Little of Safari Club International's Calgary chapter, which sought the injunction along with African Events.
"It went beyond civility. It went beyond reason."
But the judge stated in the transcript of his oral decision on Jan. 5 that he wasn't able to rule on the validity of other statements questioning the benefits of hunting or the competence of African wildlife management agencies.
Because of that, he said he couldn't make a final adjudication on whether the hunting opponent's defence of fair comment was valid.
While Neufeld agreed for an order to permanently remove the offending defamatory email, he rejected an application by the plaintiffs for a permanent injunction against the derogatory statements.
Mike Donovan of Ban African Trophy Hunting said the post with the email has been removed from his group's Facebook page but there were still many other, similar statements on the webpage.
"To me, they're bullies," Donovan said after Saturday's protest outside the Delta Hotel South in Calgary. "They didn't want us protesting. They didn't want us exposing them for the people they are."
"They're spinning this into some sort of victory and its nothing close to that."
Neufeld also issued a caution to Donovan in his ruling.
"In my view, it behooves you and your group to be careful, transparent and fair in your campaign, and specifically in the comments made with what I consider to be a legitimate commercial enterprise," Neufeld said.
Neufeld refused to award the plaintiffs court costs, due to what he called "mixed results."
Little said he believed Saturday's protest in Calgary actually boosted attendance.
"It created a bit of a buzz," he said.
The trade show continues Sunday.
By Rob Drinkwater in Calgary