We are the Environmental Defense Working Group (EDWG). The EDWG was formed in 2015 to fight Kinder Morgan's $5.6 million SLAPP against environmentalists for speaking out and organizing protests on Burnaby Mountain Conservation Land in BC. SLAPPs, or Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation, are generally brought by large corporations, or government agencies, to silence individuals, associations, unions, non-profits and community-based groups. The main objective of a SLAPP is not to win, but to silence critics and deny citizens their Charter rights by forcing them to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend themselves in court from meritless lawsuits. A second objective is to create a "chill factor." The fear of multi-million lawsuits tends to discourage most people and groups from protesting and speaking out. As such, strategic lawsuits threaten public participation and thereby the entire democratic process. If we can't protest, speak out, share information or organize peaceful protests, we won't have a say or stop anything. Democratic rights are the foundation of society and we need to fight for them, or truly see ourselves in George Orwell's 1984.
|Josh Patterson, of the BC Civil Liberties Association, speaks about Trans Mountain v. Dutton outside the Vancouver Court House.||Alan Dutton of the Environmental Ddefence Working Group speaks about Trans Mountain v. Dutton outside the Vancouver Court House.|
The EDWG joins similar groups in Ontario, Quebec and in the United States specifically formed to fight SLAPP suits. Groups formed to fight SLAPP suits are unique because SLAPP suits typically cause groups to disintegrate because of the fear and pressure of facing huge legal fees and/or court costs. In the case of EDWG, a core group was formed by those dedicated to fighting for law reform for anti-SLAPP legislation to stop SLAPP suits and protect democratic rights.
In the first phase of the project, we lobbied for anti-SLAPP legislation in B.C. The BC NDP introduced legislation in May 2015 shortly after the protests on Burnaby Mountain Conservation Lands and after Alan Dutton applied to have Trans Mountain's lawsuit dismissed as a SLAPP suit. Leonard Krog, MLA for Nanaimo, introduced the proposed legislation.
|The Anti-SLAPP Act is designed to protect citizens of BC from meritless lawsuits designed to deny democratic rights. NDP MLA Leonard Krog introduced the Act saying, "I am very pleased today to re-introduce the Anti-SLAPP act. SLAPP is an acronym which stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. These lawsuits are very damaging to a free and democratic society as they attempt to limit free speech by attacking individuals expressing and demonstrating their concerns on issues and projects affecting our province..." Read more here.|
Members of the EDWG met with members of the BC NDP caucus in July 2015 to present recommendations for effective anti-SLAPP legislation. These recommendations are outlined here and more details and explanations with resource materials will be made available shortly. Members of the EDWG are now meeting with federal candidates for the fall election to lobby for national attention to the problem of SLAPP suits and the application of Charter rights to all laws and courts in Canada.
Through your continued support, the EDWG Stop SLAPP Suits Project is creating a provincial campaign to: 1) create a network to support those facing SLAPP suits, 2) documenting SLAPP suits before the courts or dropped before being heard in court, and 3) building support for provincial and national anti-SLAPP legislation.
This takes work and the EDWG can't do it without you. Stop corporations from attacking our democratic rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly by donating to the Stop SLAPP Suit Project. All proceeds go to support law reform to protect democratic rights. We can't do this work without you! Make a donation for law reform to protect democratic rights. Show your support by "Liking" our Facebook page at Stop SLAPP Suits and making a donation by cheque or by Paypal:
|Protect democratic rights for everyone!||Stop SLAPPs
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