Anti-SLAPP Task Force Reports to Attorney General
Posted by auroracitizen on January 7, 2011
On Oct 28, 2010, the Anti-SLAPP task force released their report to the Attorney General regarding SLAPP lawsuits intended expressly to stifle public participation.
As with most task force reports it is quite comprehensive, and doesn’t always make for light reading.
But we thought you would be interested to hear that on page 22/23 the report specifically references the recent lawsuit by Phyllis Morris as an example.
Politicians’ right to sue in defamation
Paragraph 91: In Ontario, municipal governments do not have the right to sue in defamation. However, there are several recent cases in which municipal councillors have sued someone for criticisms aimed at the municipality or municipal interests generally. Sometimes municipalities pay the expenses of these suits. The question arises whether this is a way of avoiding the general prohibition against municipal libel actions. The cases almost by definition involve matters of public interest, and the resources of an individual or ratepayers’ group against a municipal government funding an individual politician’s lawsuit are likely to be unequal.
Reference 36 takes you to the following notation
 For example, “Maybe You Heard About The Lawsuit”, Aurora Citizen, October 15, 2010: http://auroracitizen.ca/2010/10/15/maybe-you-heard-about-the-lawsuit/.
This lawsuit is used to demonstrate the inequity with the balance of power between a municipality and a private citizen and is one of the core issues that the task force was engaged to examine.
When politicians use public funds to stifle free speech, this issue strikes to the very heart of our charter of rights.
The full report can be see on the Attorney Generals website: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/anti_slapp/