Toronto (ON) — Today, the Ontario government stood up for free speech and showed leadership by introducing a bill to protect citizens from harassing lawsuits aimed at silencing public debate. These lawsuits, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation or SLAPPS, are often launched by developers, corporations or others against individuals who publically object to proposed projects. As a result of this threat, community groups and citizens are reluctant to comment on, or object to, proposed changes to their community or environment for fear of the crushing cost and stress of being legally attacked.
In Ontario, citizens should be able to speak about their concerns when industrial projects are proposed for their communities. SLAPP suits allow corporations with deep pockets to intimidate citizens and silence public debate. This proposed law will help protect free speech while in no way limiting anyone’s right to take legal action in cases of libel or slander. We hope that it will receive widespread support from the business community and all political parties. Protecting citizens’ rights to voice their concerns is good for Ontario and for democracy.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.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.
-30-
For more information or media requests, please contact:
Naomi Carniol, ncarniol@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext. 258, 416-570-2878 (cell)