It’s time to protect Canadians from frivolous lawsuits

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Academic highlights the threats that SLAPP suits pose to free speech OTTAWA, ON – The use of lawsuits to silence critical voices is a serious threat to free expression and public discourse in Canada. To coincide with his new book, Threatening Democracy: SLAPPs and the Judicial Repression of Political Discourse, Dr. Normand Landry will be giving a talk at Octopus Books in Ottawa, on Thursday, November 24, about the threats that Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) pose to Canadians. “SLAPPs are typically thought to only impact activists, or advocacy organizations,” said Landry. “But without the necessary legal protections, the ability for large corporations to exploit these troublesome lawsuits really is an issue that impacts everyone.” After speaking on the issue of SLAPPs in Canada, Landry will be joined by Pierre Sadik, Manager of Legislative Affairs for Ecojustice Canada. Sadik will speak to the current status of anti-SLAPP legislation in Ontario, and why it is important that this legislation is passed. Earlier this year, Ontario’s Bill 83, The Protection of Public Participation Act, died in the legislative assembly when the election was called. “Despite being welcomed by all parties, the clock ran out on the passage of anti-SLAPP legislation last spring,” said Sadik. “Now that the government is back in session, it’s time for anti-SLAPP legislation to be enacted in Ontario.” The event is being co-sponsored by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Ecojustice Canada, and Environmental Defence. Event Details Thursday, November 27, 7 p.m. Octopus Books, 251 Bank St (Second floor), Ottawa, ON The event is free and open to the public. About SLAPPs Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are the use of legal proceedings to intimidate and silence opposition, and can be incredibly influential in silencing a person or group who is speaking out. These legal proceedings are typically used by large corporations as a weapon for intimidation, censorship or political reprisal against critical individuals or small organizations. The threat of expensive legal fees is often enough to silence dissent. Quebec is currently the only province to have anti-SLAPP legislation in Ontario, enacted in 2009. - 30 - Dr. Normand Landry is a Professor at TÉLUQ (Université du Québec) and the author of Threatening Democracy: SLAPPs and the Judicial Repression of Public Discourse. His doctoral dissertation focused on SLAPPs in Québec and Canada. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, CJFE promotes a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others' free expression rights. For more information, visit cjfe.org. Ecojustice is Canada’s leading non-profit organization of lawyers and scientists using the law to protect and restore Canada’s environment. Since 1990, we have helped hundreds of groups, coalitions and communities expose lawbreakers, hold governments accountable and establish powerful legal precedents in defence of our air, water and wildlife and natural spaces. For more information, visit ecojustice.ca. Environmental Defence is Canada's most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all. For more information, visit www.environmentaldefence.ca. Copies of Threatening Democracy: SLAPPs and the Judicial Repression of Public Discourse are available from: Nancy Malek, 902-225-0765, promotions@fernpub.ca For further information or media enquiries, please contact: Pierre Sadik, 613-413-2237, psadik@ecojustice.ca Normand Landry, 514-570-8412, normand.landry@teluq.ca

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