"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
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
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.
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