We need your help to defend the right to speak out. Corporations are increasingly using Canadian courts to intimidate and silence people from speaking out against pipelines through residential and conservation land, unsafe mining practices, fish farming, waste processing plants and building developments. The use of the courts to silence people is known as strategic litigation against public participation – or SLAPP.
Quebec has legislation against SLAPPs, and Ontario is in the final stages of enacting similar legislation. In 2015 – following a $5.6 million lawsuit by Texas oil giant Kinder Morgan against five defendants, and a court challenge against the SLAPP by Alan Dutton – the BC New Democrats introduced an Anti-SLAPP Act in the legislature. Alan believes the proposed legislation is crucial to the democratic process:
“We welcome this legislation. The effect of SLAPP suits on public participation can be devastating. Sometimes the targets, and even bystanders, never fully recover from trying to fight a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed simply to stop them from commenting on an issue of public importance. We need this legislation to defend the right to speak out.”
However, while the proposed legislation is an important step, there are critical changes that are required to make it truly effective. With support from West Coast Environmental Law, and based on the experience of fighting Kinder Morgan in court, we have drafted recommendations that will make the Act more effective in stopping SLAPPs.
Now we need to mobilize widespread support for legislation based on an open public consultation process. Please sign our petition to support anti-SLAPP legislation. We will forward the names received on this petition to the Honourable Suzanne Anton and members of the official opposition.
Honourable Suzanne Anton, Attorney General of B.C.:
I support legislation to protect the right to public participation and freedom of expression. The Anti-SLAPP Act 2015 that was introduced in May 2015 will provide important protections for our democratic rights and deserves a second reading.
We, the undersigned, urge you to consider the proposed legislation and invite public comment at your earliest convenience.