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WIN! Ontario passes anti-SLAPP legislation

The Government of Ontario announced today that, "Ontario has passed the Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015, which is aimed at stopping strategic lawsuits." (http://news.ontario.ca/mag/en/2015/10/protection-of-publicparticipation-
act.html)

Ontario Passes Law to Protect Freedom of Expression

Ontario Passes Law to Protect Freedom of Expression
News Release

Province Works to End Strategic Lawsuits That Stifle Free Speech
October 28, 2015 12:00 P.M.Ministry of the Attorney General
Today Ontario passed an act that protects freedom of speech on matters of public interest.

CJFE applauds the passing of Anti-SLAPP legislation in Ontario

CJFE applauds the passing of Anti-SLAPP legislation in Ontario
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
By Rignam Wangkhang

Anti-SLAPP Legislation in Ontario

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are on the rise in Ontario. This trend was recognized by the Environment Commissioner of Ontario in his 2008-09 Annual Report and in concerns raised by various non-governmental organizations and municipalities across the province. It has also been acknowledged by the Ontario Government through an expert advisory panel that provided advice on how to design an effective anti-SLAPP law for the province (see the panel's October, 2010 report).

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Will the Charter Protect Me?

Everyone in Canada should have the protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to freely voice their concerns and to organize public demonstrations. But they don't. SLAPP suits undermine and subvert democratic rights and the democratic process. In fact, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not protect protestors and critics and the courts impose a huge burden to achieve any sort of justice and redress. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is part of the Canadian Constitution and while it is supposed to protect citizens against government it is not generally applied to disputes between private parties. Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media or communications are guaranteed by Section 2(b) of the Charter and freedom of peaceful assembly by section 2(c). However, unlike the First Amendment to the US Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies only to protection from government intervention - not private disputes for alleged defamation and protests. Read more

Will the Courts Protect Me?

The answer is almost certainly no. The courts are biased in allowing cases to proceed to trial. To have a lawsuit dismissed, a target of a SLAPP suit must prove on the balance of probabilities that a suit was filed for a malicious purpose such as to silence a person on a matter of public concern or to stop them from demonstrating. To prove malicious intent against a large corporation with almost unlimited resources is difficult at best. In short, it is very difficult and expensive to have a SLAPP suit dismissed in Canada even if there is no credible proof that a lawsuit is an abuse of process, malicious and without factual basis. This is unlike the United States where over half the States have specific anti-SLAPP legislation and First Amendment rights to free speech that provide rules for the better protection of the right to protest and speak out against government agencies and corporations. Read more

Thank you!

Thanks to all our supporters. In particular, thanks to West Coast Environmental Law for two grants to develop recommendations for effective anti-SLAPP suit legislation, Dr. Jane Shin, MLA Burnaby-Lougheed for continuing to push for anti-SLAPP legislation and to students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University for continued support. Click here to read statements of support to reclaim democratic rights.

Resources

Breaking the Silence: the need for anti SLAPP legislation. EcoJustice (2010)

Report to Ontario Attorney General. Moran Anti-SLAPP Advisory Panel (2010)

Recommended Legislative Measures to Counter Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation BC Civil Liberties Association (2012).

SLAPP: the BC Experience. Tollefson and Scott (2010)

Anti-SLAPP Handbook. West Coast Environmental Law (2002).

Recommendations for Anti-SLAPP Legislation with Appendices. Environmental Defense Working Group (2015).

Contact Us

Stop SLAPP suits
324-280 Nelson Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V6B 2E2
info[at]stopslappsuits
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This site provides no legal advice, and no representation is made as to the completeness or accuracy of the information presented. Links to news, commentary, and guest blog posts do not necessarily reflect the views of the Stop SLAPP Suit Project.