Monday, August 29, 2011

An anti-SLAPP statute for Manitoba?

Good Day Readers:

According to Philadelphia-based The Legal Project:

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) refer to suits brought in response to efforts by individuals or groups to participate in the democratic process by some person or entity that claims to have been wronged through that participation. A common type of SLAPP suit is a defamation action. These SLAPP laws often have a chilling effect on the grass-roots exercise of First Amendment Rights.

Because of the effect these suits can have on citizens petitioning the government for redress of grievances, numerous states have enacted some form of anti-SLAPP legislation. California in particular has been the leader in litigation interpreting and applying SLAPP legislation.

About 50% of American states have some form of anti-SLAPP statute on the books wherein if a lawsuit can be shown at an early stage to be a frivolous, nuisance/abuse action it can be thrown out. To the best of our knowledge Manitoba has nothing comparable. As previously noted, perhaps a review of the province's Defamation Act is in order otherwise these types of cases can go on ad nauseam.

In of MMF et al. versus Terry Belhumeur et al. ( - CI 05-01-41955) the allegedly defamatory material was contained in a petition calling for reform and greater accountability of the taxpayer financed Manitoba Metis Federation's election expenses - at the time like the wild, wild west without horses.

What's interesting in the California example below is the way a lawyer is trying to misuse anti-SLAPP legislation to threaten, intimidate and silence a citizen advocate.

Clare L. Pieuk


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