The Ontario Legislative Assembly has passed Bill 52, Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015. This legislation will allow courts to quickly identify and deal with strategic lawsuits, minimizing the emotional and financial strain on defendants, as well as the waste of court resources
In our community, I have heard about the need to preserve and protect public participation for many years and I committed to bring this issue forward. This lead to the introduction of my Private Member's Bill, the Protection of Public Participation Act 2012 in October 2012, and you can learn more about that Bill here.
Last December our government built on the work we did through extensive public consultations here in Ottawa Centre and across the province, and introduced Bill 52 to help allow courts to quickly identify and deal with strategic lawsuits, which are commonly referred to as SLAPPs (Strategic lawsuits against public participation).
The Protection of Public Participation Act provides a made in Ontario approach to addressing the issue of strategic lawsuits, and is based on consensus recommendations of an expert advisory panel and extensive stakeholder consultations. The legislation strikes a balance that will help ensure abusive litigation is stopped but legitimate actions can continue. Anyone who has a legitimate claim of libel or slander should not be discouraged by this legislation. Note that the legislation applies to lawsuits begun after December 1, 2014, which is when Bill 52 was introduced.
Using intimidation tactics to silence ones opponents is a misuse of our court system one of the central institutions of a fair and democratic society. By protecting citizens against strategic litigation, our government is protecting the right of Ontario residents to speak out on matters that are important to us.