Organizations continue call for anti-SLAPP legislation in Ontario

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur
Ministry of the Attorney General
McMurtry-Scott Building
720 Bay Street, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON M7A 2S9

Dear Attorney General,

Re: Introduction of Anti –SLAPP Bill

We are writing to you to urge you to expeditiously introduce a bill that will address the problem of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) in Ontario. The Honourable John Gerretsen, your predecessor, introduced Bill 83, Protection of Public Participation Act, 2013 which received support from the public and many organizations, including the undersigned. Unfortunately, the Bill did not pass prior to the June 2014 election.

The Anti-SLAPP Advisory Panel which was established four years ago and chaired by Dean Mayo Moran of the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto recommended that the Ontario government adopt anti-SLAPP legislation to counter the growing phenomena of SLAPPs. The Panel stated that the purpose of the anti-SLAPP legislation would be to “expand the democratic benefits of broad participation in public affairs and to reduce the risk that such participation will be unduly hampered by fear of legal action.” The panel also provided a framework and the content for legislation to target SLAPPs.

The Panel’s report received wide endorsement and the enactment of anti-SLAPP legislation in Ontario has been supported by the Ontario Bar Association, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Environmental Commissioner, academics, public interest organizations and former members of the judiciary.

We, therefore, strongly urge you to introduce an anti-SLAPP bill which reflects the recommendations of the Anti-SLAPP Advisory Panel and to take all measures to ensure that it is adopted into law.

Yours truly,

Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director & Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association
Pierre Sadik, Ecojustice Canada, Manager of Legislative Affairs
Joanna Kerr, Executive Director, Greenpeace Canada
Tim Gray, Executive Director, Environmental Defence
Jack Gibbons, Chair, Ontario Clean Air Alliance
Caroline Schultz, Executive Director, Ontario Nature
Cara Faith Zwibel, Director, Fundamental Freedoms Program, Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Peter Jacobsen, Chair of the Canadian Issues Committee, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Derek Coronado, Coordinator, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
Mark Calzavara Ontario Regional Organizer The Council of Canadians
Janet Sumner Executive Director CPAWS Wildlands League
Dr. Faisal Moola, PhD Director General David Suzuki Foundation
John Bennett National Program Director Sierra Club Ontario
Doris Grinspun, RN, MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), O.ONT. Chief Executive Officer Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

cc: The Honourable Yasir Naqvi, Government House Leader
Sylvia Jones, PC Critic, Attorney General
Jagmeet Singh, NDP Critic, Attorney General