Posted on November 12, 2019 (updated: November 11, 2019)

Ecojustice to affirm the right to freedom of expression in Supreme Court of Canada

Photo by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr

Ottawa, November 12, 2019 – Ecojustice is intervening at the Supreme Court of Canada to advocate for a strong interpretation of Ontario’s Protection of Public Participation Act. The legal intervention is an effort to ensure anti-SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) provisions are applicable across a wide variety of cases.

Ecojustice also seeks to advance an interpretation of the provisions that would provide a robust framework capable of protecting expressions on important matters of public interest, such as environmental issues and the public’s ability to freely participate in environmental decision-making.

Ontario’s anti-SLAPP provisions protect freedom of expression, public discourse, and allow for public participation in the democratic process without fear of retribution. Many civil society groups speak out on important issues of public concern – and should be able to do so without facing legal intimidation and being dragged through the courts.

Ecojustice has a long history of fighting SLAPPs in court and working towards anti-SLAPP law reform. Some of the most notable work has been:

  • 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’
  • Over the course of several years, Ecojustice continued to represent clients who had been hit with SLAPP-style lawsuits.
  • 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.

 

Joshua Ginsberg, Ecojustice lawyer said:

“Anti-SLAPP provisions allow defendants to have an alleged SLAPP dismissed using a pre-trial mechanism. It remains in the public interest for civic groups, individuals and the media to speak out on matters of public concern without being afraid of a SLAPP-style lawsuit. Public discourse is essential to any democratic society.

“Ecojustice is asking the SCC to adopt an interpretation of the anti-SLAPP provisions that would provide strong protections for public participation in environmental-decision making and expressions on environmental issues.”

About:
Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment for all.

For media inquiries

Sean O’Shea, Communications Specialist | Ecojustice
Tel: 1-800-926-7744 ext. 277
Email: soshea@ecojustice.ca

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