A recent change to legislation proposed by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government to stop frivolous defamation lawsuits will leave anyone currently burdened with one out in the cold. The change benefits Wynne’s own position as a plaintiff in a pending defamation suit against Tim Hudak, and comes after lobbying efforts by a corporate plaintiff in another pending defamation suit who donated to the Ontario Liberal party and to its 2014 election campaign led by Wynne.
The government has removed retroactive protection from its Protection of Public Participation Act, which if passed will allow Ontario’s civil courts to dismiss lawsuits that impact a legitimate freedom of expression in the public interest. So-called strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) – or defamation suits that claim massive damages in order to shut people up – should be legislated against in the province, according to a 2010 provincial advisory panel and everyone who has ever been hit with one.
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