We really need legislation to stop SLAPPs. According to the Ontario Anti-SLAPP panel report:
“Strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) has been defined as a lawsuit initiated against one or more individuals or groups that speak out or take a position on an issue of public interest. SLAPPs use the court system to limit the effectiveness of the opposing party’s speech or conduct. SLAPPs can intimidate opponents, deplete their resources, reduce their ability to participate in public affairs, and deter others from participating in discussion on matters of public interest.”
The 2008 report of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario stressed the need for legislation to end strategic litigation against public participation. “The Panel was persuaded that threats of lawsuits for speaking out on matters of public interest, combined with a number of actual lawsuits, deter significant numbers of people from participating in discussions on such matters. The Panel believes that the value of public participation, as mentioned in its opening comments, is sufficiently weighty that the government should take active steps to promote it by enacting targeted legislation.”
This week, the International Energy Agency reported that prospects for avoiding devastating climate change have grown ever bleaker. The ongoing disaster at Fukushima is causing a pullback of nuclear world wide. Oil dependence continues to lead to wars in the Middle East, and to the slide of the American dollar. In this context, we urgently need a full and fair public debate about energy sources and conservation. But what is happening?
One of my clients received a libel notice last week related to what they are saying publicly to support renewable energy policy. By my analysis, this is a threatened SLAPP which fits the criteria set out by the Anti-SLAPP panel, and which could have the deleterious effects (such as libel chill) that the Panel predicted. This week, I received a libel notice in case I say so. How can we have a full and fair debate if such threats are permitted to silence public participation?
This should be an election issue.