Ecojustice is intervening at the Supreme Court of Canada to protect Ontarians from legal intimidation by ensuring a broad interpretation of the province’s Protection of Public Participation Act.
SLAPPs, or Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, are used to silence those who speak out. Without laws that defend against these lawsuits, members of civil society working to protect the environment can feel a real chill from legal intimidation.
We are going to court to ensure that Ontario’s anti-SLAPP provisions are applicable across a wide variety of cases and interpreted in a manner that continues to safeguard the ability of individuals and environmental group to express themselves freely on environmental issues.
Anti-SLAPP provisions protect public discourse in Ontario. It is in the public interest for civic groups, concerned individuals and the media to be able to voice their concerns on important issues without being afraid of a SLAPP-style lawsuit. This is because public discourse is essential to our democracy.
Many environmental groups – who Ecojustice often represent – make public statements about crucial environmental issues and should be able to do so without being dragged through the courts.
Ecojustice has a long history of fighting SLAPPs in court and working towards anti-SLAPP law reform.
Early in its existence, Ecojustice represented the Galiano Conservancy Association from a lawsuit by a multinational forestry corporation which is now considered to be the first lawsuit in Canada to attract public attention to the problem of SLAPPs.
In the mid 1990’s Ecojustice represented Friends of the Lubicon from action from Japanese pulp and paper giant Daishowa Inc. in what became known as Canada’s best known ‘SLAPP-style lawsuit’
Ecojustice has been a persistent advocate for anti-SLAPP law reform. We contributed to the public debate and legislative deliberations that led to the passing of anti-SLAPP laws in Ontario and B.C.
A win would mean that Ontario’s Protection of Public Participation Act would be viewed as broadly as possible. This ensures that when a court makes a decision about a SLAPP-style lawsuit, they take a broad interpretation of what is in the “public interest”. It would benefit the freedom of expression by ensuring that the onus lies with the plaintiff when the court is considering a SLAPP-style lawsuit.