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B.C. introduces anti-SLAPP legislation to protect public interest debates

Bill would safeguard people from strategic lawsuits against public participation

The B.C. government has introduced legislation that would prevent lawsuits used to silence critics with unfair or costly legal action.

Attorney General David Eby says the bill would ensure the protection of free public debate by safeguarding people from strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) suits.

Eby says such lawsuits can limit or prevent criticism over issues of public interest. The legislation was an NDP promise from last year's election campaign.

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Burnaby Now Editorial: "...case raises alarming questions"

I just ran across the following editorial and I'm posting it because it perfectly explains better than I can why we are fighting SLAPP suits and what's wrong with Canadian courts. A court recently found me responsible for a conspiracy to commit assault, interference with contracts, economic loss, trespass and other torts because of guilt by association. My name happened to be well-known because I was a spokesperson for the Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan (BROKE) and I built BROKE's website and managed the Burnaby Pipeline Watch Facebook page.

Province introduces legislation to protect dissident speech

VANCOUVER—Alan Dutton is still $4,000 in debt from when he was taken to court by Kinder Morgan for speaking out against the Burnaby Mountain project in 2014.

It’s a small chunk compared to the thousands the retired professor has paid off in legal fees so far, for defending himself in court against allegations that he defamed Kinder Morgan through posts on Facebook and comments to the press as a spokesperson for Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion.

BC gov't reviving law to protect people from being silenced by 'strategic' lawsuits

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Legislation protecting regular citizens from legal action by people with deeper pockets has been re-introduced by BC’s New Democrat government, with the full support of a former Attorney General with the Liberal government that killed it in 2001.

Wally Oppal, who now works for Vancouver’s Boughton Law, says the new Protection of Public Participation Act makes it difficult for developers to sue environmentalists just to silence them.

Eby reintroduces anti-SLAPP legislation killed by BC Liberals

British Columbians will soon be able to once again speak up against big corporations on important issues without the fear of being silenced by costly strategic legal action intended to suppress public participation.

BC Attorney General David Eby today introduced the Protection of Public Participation Act, which will safeguard people from strategic lawsuits against public participation (often referred to as SLAPPs) that limit or prevent the expression of individuals’ or groups’ points of view on matters of public interest.

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SLAPP Suits: Taseko, WCWC And Potential Legislation

The British Columbia legislature may soon enact legislation designed to address strategic lawsuits against public participation, otherwise known as 'SLAPPs.' A SLAPP suit is a claim filed with the aim of censoring, intimidating or silencing those who

The mere fact that a person, entity or local government may be sued for expressing views can create a chilling effect on discourse around matter public interest

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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.