2010-06. Legal Case. Schnoor v. Canada.
June 13th, 2010
Toronto, June 16, 2010. An Ontario judge has ruled that former Canadian Ambassador to Guatemala, Kenneth Cook, slandered Ph.D. student and videographer Steven Schnoor by making false statements about a documentary video that Schnoor made that was critical of the practices of a Canadian mining company.
In January 2007, Schnoor made a short documentary depicting the violent eviction of Mayan subsistence farmers from their homes in rural Guatemala at the behest of a Canadian mining company. This documentary includes footage of a woman who protests loudly about the evictions. It also includes a number of still photographs by James Rodríguez (from MiMundo.org), including one of a community member in despair with his head in his hand.
Justice Pamela Thomson has ruled that in a meeting conducted at the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala City in February 2007, Ambassador Cook said that the woman in the documentary was paid to act in the video and that the photograph of the man in despair was not taken at the evictions, but was a stock photograph that had been used before.
Justice Thomson held that the Ambassador’s statements were defamatory and were not true. She further held that “the Ambassador was reckless”, and that “he should have known better”.
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