Toronto, ON — Today, the Ontario government (as supported by the New Democratic Party and some members of the Official Opposition) stood up for free speech by passing a new law to protect citizens from harassing lawsuits aimed at silencing public debate.

These lawsuits, known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), were often launched by developers, corporations or others against concerned citizens who spoke out against proposed projects in their communities. As a result of this threat, community groups and citizens were reluctant to comment on, or object to, proposed changes or threats to their community or environment for fear of the crushing cost and stress of lawsuits.

Ontario residents will now be able to voice their concerns when industrial projects are proposed for their communities. With this new law, corporations with deep pockets will no longer be able to intimidate citizens and silence public debate.

The new law will help protect free speech in Ontario while in no way limiting anyone’s right to take legal action in cases of libel or slander. 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.

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For more information or media requests, please contact:
Naomi Carniol, ncarniol@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext. 258, 416-570-2878 (cell)