You are here

Write the Premier to Support Anti-SLAPP Legislation

Description: 
Urge Members of the BC Legislature to cosponsor Anti-SLAPP Legislation The BC Legislature needs to hear from you! Please urge your Members of the BC Legislature to cosponsor anti-SLAPP legislation. This important legislation will protect all people in the province who speak out at public proceedings and on matters of public concern. Quebec has anti-SLAPP laws, and an anti-SLAPP bill is before the Ontario Legislature. The BC NDP introduced an anti-SLAPP Act in May 2015 but we need widespread support to make have this passed as a law. Anti-SLAPP legislation is needed now – it will protect us all if we speak out on issues of public concern. For more information about anti-SLAPP legislation in Canada and the USA click here. Urge Members of the BC Legislature to cosponsor provincial anti-SLAPP legislation. Just copy and paste this open letter to the Premier and leaders of all the political parties of BC in the box below and click submit and the letter will be sent to the Premier and key MLAs. Please sign our petition at http://defendbc.ca/speakout-petitions/defend-right-to-speak-out/ and stop SLAPP suits.
Just fill in your name, email and address and copy and paste the following letter and it will be automatically sent to the Premier and the leaders of all political parties in BC. Clicking "send" will allow us to track how many letters have been sent. Thank you!

Petition For Law Reform Against SLAPP Suits

Premier Christy Clark:

Everyone in Canada should have the protection of the Charter to freely voice their concerns and to organize public demonstrations. However, large corporations are increasingly abusing the court system to silence critics and deny them their Charter rights using SLAPP suits. A SLAPP suit, or strategic lawsuit against public participation, is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

The point of a SLAPP suit isn’t to win, it's to silence and intimidate. The goal of a SLAPP suit is to cause fear and intimidate through mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion so they abandons criticism and opposition. In some cases, repeated frivolous litigation against a defendant may raise the cost of directors and officers liability insurance for that party, interfering with an organization's ability to operate. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in public debate and protest from fear of being sued.

Here's a perfect example of a SLAPP suit. When Kinder Morgan, the Texas based transnational oil company, faced wide spread opposition to clear cutting and seismic testing for a proposed pipeline expansion on Burnaby Mountain Conservation Land, the corporation applied to the Supreme Court of BC for an injunction against protestors. The transnational also launched a $5.6 million civil suit against five defendants for alleged damages caused by the protests. After days in court and tens of thousands in legal fees, two of the defendants quietly accepted a temporary discontinuance offered by Kinder Morgan. Two others refused the offer, demanding a permanent dismissal of the civil suit. The fifth defendant also refused but took Kinder Morgan back to court asking for the civil suit to be dismissed as a SLAPP suit with damages and court costs. Under present court rules, however, the court case failed. Nevertheless, to end the war of words in the media, Kinder Morgan unilaterally dropped the civil suit, meaning that no further court challenges of Kinder Morgan’s civil suit could be advanced, but leaving the transnational the opportunity to use the information from the civil suit against the defendants in future cases.

This example shows that even if Kinder Morgan did not intend to launch a SLAPP suit, the effect was the same. The case was clearly a travesty of justice and shows the power of large corporations facing public opposition. Kinder Morgan’s evidence could not be tested in court while the defendants spent tens of thousands of dollars attempting to defend themselves against Kinder Morgan’s civil suit. Worse, many who believed in the value of protesting to show opposition, now feel threatened by the possibility of being named in a future SLAPP suit. As a result, public participation in public affairs has been throttled and freedom of expression curtailed.

SLAPP suits clearly undermine the protection of the Charter to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. While Bill C-51 will give police and intelligence gathering agencies security much greater power to target protestors deemed to be security threats, the courts allow corporations incredible rights to suppress protests and freedom of speech.

We can win the fight against SLAPP suits. The province of Quebec has SLAPP suit protection and Ontario is following to enact protections. The province of BC needs the same. Please sign our petition below and write a letter to your MLA and MP demanding anti-SLAPP suit protections. This petition will demonstrate to our legislators that we won’t take it any more and that we demand protections for our Charter rights.

Cc
Susan Anton, Minister of Justice and Attorney General
John Horgan, MLA Leader of the Official Opposition
Leonard Krog, MLA Critic for justice
Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA Environmental Critic
Conservative Party of BC
Green Party of BC

AddToAny

Share