strategic lawsuit against public participation

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A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is an attempt, typically by a corporation, to silence opponents of its activities and projects. They are common especially in Canada. [1] Jurisprudence varies widely among states and provinces [2].

Because of Canada's uniquely abusive "libel" laws, it is particularly easy to launch such suits in Canada. Even sitting politicians such as the Prime Minister of Canada can file suits against other sitting politicians over matters of obvious public interest, and this has standing with the court, unlike any other English speaking jurisdiction.

anti-SLAPP in Canada[edit]

Only two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec, have specific anti-SLAPP legislation. In Ontario, the abuse of OMB legal claims against citizen activists and the strong position of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario against SLAPP suits [3], plus the victory of Conrad Black in a libel case, and the general support of the legal profession prompted the government to action [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/the-law-page/ontario-looks-to-smack-down-slapps/article1390137/ on an analysis of legislation that was already well underway [4]. BC had anti-SLAPP briefly in 2000 but it was quickly withdrawn by the Campbell government.

New Brunswick experience[edit]

The NDP-NB introduced such legislation in 1997 via the leader Elizabeth Weir as a private members' bill. Subsequent cases, including some involving sitting politicians such as John Ferguson, proved the ability to abuse the NB process was extraordinary and could result in legal bills in millions of dollars.

In the wake of the Ferguson case, "clean air activist Gordon Dalzell called on the provincial government to introduce anti-SLAPP legislation last year to help protect protesters. Dalzell said with contentious projects in the province such as shale gas exploration, critics need protection from legal actions designed to intimidate and silence." [5]

In 2013 SWN Resources launched SLAPP suits against protesters in the anti-fracking protests near Rexton - claiming damages due to interruption in operations and legal costs. See SLAPP against anti-fracking protest, 2013.