Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP).
In Ontario, SLAPP suits have been identified as a serious problem by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, more than 70 municipalities, and more than 70 environmental organizations. British Columbia and Quebec, with their Bill 10 and Bill 9 respectively, and more than half of the United States, have adopted legislation against SLAPP suits.
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller, defines SLAPP suits as:
“civil actions with little or no substantial basis or merit advanced with the intent of stifling participation in public policy and decision-making.”
In February 2010, more than 70 prominent environmental organizations added to a campaign to stop SLAPP suits. They define SLAPP suits as:
“a major impediment to free speech in Ontario,” a “legal form of bullying and intimidation,” and “an abuse of our judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings, stifling citizens and silencing public debate.”
In the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s 2008/2009 annual report, Building Resilience, Mr. Miller says,
“SLAPP suits are advanced by developers to discourage local residents from participating in the planning approval process, to divert citizens groups’ financial and/or other resources from public participation, or to punish residents for participating. SLAPP suits, whether successful or not, affect far more than the specific individuals or groups that are targeted as defendants; such lawsuits can deter others from participating in the same or other matters of public concern, out of fear of the financial liability that could ensue.”
For information, see: Cost awards and SLAPP: Techniques used to chill public participation in planning decisions.
Read the next page, Why is this a SLAPP Suit?, for information on how this applies to the Hanlon Creek 5