Last night, Councillors John Taylor (Ward 3) and Marianne Meed Ward (Ward 2) championed a Council Resolution that outlined the need for Anti-SLAPP legislation in the Province of Ontario. It asked that “The City of Burlington advise the newly elected Premier…and its local (MPPs) of its support for the Protection of Public Participation Act 2014 (Bill 83) and request that the Bill be reintroduced forthwith in the Legislature;”. It further requested that Mayor Goldring meet with Burlington’s new MPPs about this issue, and that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario be requested to support the resolution as well.
Councillor’s Taylor and Meed Ward, Mayor Goldring and City Manager Pat Moyle all spoke eloquently in support of the resolution, and in support of the defendants of the Airpark libel suit. The resolution then passed unanimously in a recorded vote.
Thank you to all members of Council and City Staff who have sent an important message to Ottawa and Queen’s Park and to our City’s own advocacy community; that our City values public participation, public dialogue and the debate that informs not just policy decisions, but our quality of life.
PROTECTION OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION ACT, 2014 (Bill 83)
COUNCIL RESOLUTION, June 30th, 2014
WHEREAS Bill 83, Protection of Public Participation Act, 2014 being “An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, the Libel and Slander Act and the Statutory Powers of Procedure Act in order to protect expression on matters of public interest” was introduced into the Provincial Legislature in June 2013;
WHEREAS Bill 83 was introduced by the government out of concern that Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP), being lawsuits brought before the court by one party against another party or individual as a tactic for silencing or intimidating the other party, are having a chilling effect on public participation on contentious matters of public interest in Ontario;
WHEREAS Bill 83 is intended to protect persons from being subjected to legal proceedings that would stifle their ability to speak out on public issues or promote, in the public interest, action by the public or any level of government;
WHEREAS the ability to engage in public participation forums is the foundation of a democratic society;
WHEREAS there exist a number of high profile environmental issues in the City of Burlington that are of public interest and that have generated a great deal of debate in the community;
WHEREAS City Council is of the opinion that public participation in matters of public interest ought to be encouraged and not discouraged through tactics such as strategic lawsuits against public participation;
WHEREAS provision is made in Bill 83 to amend the Courts of Justice Act for such SLAPP legal proceeding to be dismissed at an early stage and for defendants subjected to such proceedings to be indemnified for incurred costs in such proceedings with the potential for additional damages to be awarded in appropriate circumstances;
WHEREAS provision is made in Bill 83 to amend the Libel and Slander Act to state that any qualified privilege that applies in respect of an oral or written communication on a matter of public interest between two or more persons who have a direct interest in the matter applies regardless of whether the communication is witnessed or reported on by media representatives or other persons;
WHEREAS provision is made in Bill 83 to amend the Statutory Powers Procedure Act to provide that submissions for a costs order in a proceeding must be made in writing, unless the tribunal determines that to do so is likely to cause a party to the proceeding significant prejudice;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Council of the City of Burlington advise the newly elected Premier of the Province of Ontario, the Honorable Kathleen Wynne and its local members of Provincial Legislative Assembly of its support for the Protection of Public Participation Act, 2014 (Bill 83) and request that the Bill be re-introduced forthwith in the Legislature;
THAT Mayor Goldring be requested to meet with Burlington’s newly elected Member of Provincial Parliament, Eleanor McMahon to encourage the Province to re-introduce the anti-SLAPP legislation; and
THAT the Association of Municipalities of Ontario be requested to support this resolution.