More on “Tilting at Windmills”: Ontario Tables Anti-SLAPP Legislation – & How It Could Cover Existing Cases
At just about the same time that news was breaking of NextEra’s controversial lawsuit against Esther Wrightman, the Ontario Government AG, the Hon. J. Gerrertsen, tabled Bill 83 – which would, if passed, introduce some remarkably positive changes to Ontario law regarding #SLAPP lawsuits. The bill, if passed, would provide much needed encouragement of public interest expression, commentary and participation. It would, indeed, serve as a serous chill against litigation of little or no merit that is intended to stifle or prevent public expressions of comment on matters of public interest. @EzraLevant, a well-known Sun News commentator, had some written and verbal comments on June 9, 2013 on the Sun website about NextEra’s lawsuit against Esther Wrightman and whether he sees it as a “SLAPP” suit.
Bill 83 would provide that if a party is sued as the result of “expression” made by a person concerning a matter of public interest, the defendant can move to have the proceedings thrown out unless the plaintiff can show that:
· The proceeding has “substantial merit”;
· The moving party has no valid defence; and
· The harm resulting from the defendant’s expression is sufficiently serious that that public interest in allowing the proceeding to continue would outweigh the public interest in protecting that expression.