Ontario Passes Anti-SLAPP Law to Protect Freedom of Speech
On October 28, 2015, the Ontario government passed the Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015 (PPPA), which will protect freedom of speech on matters of public interest.
As the government’s announcement notes, the PPPA will allow the public to participate more freely in public discussions without fear of retribution by giving them a better way to defend themselves against strategic lawsuits, commonly known as SLAPPs (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation). The threat of a strategic lawsuit, which can be lengthy and expensive, is often used as a means to intimidate or punish opponents and discourage others from speaking out. The PPPA includes:
- a new fast-track review process that will allow the courts to quickly identify and deal with strategic lawsuits
- new protections for individuals from defamation lawsuits when their concerns are reported to the public through a third party, such as a blogger or a reporter, and
- faster and less expensive procedures at boards and tribunals that will allow parties to make written submissions about legal costs instead of making submissions in person.
We successfully obtained enhanced costs in a lawsuit in which the former mayor of Aurora was found to have commenced a SLAPP defamation lawsuit in order to silence bloggers during her re-election campaign.