Canada: Supreme Court to consider extra protections for victims of corporate litigation designed to silence their advocacy

Author: Samantha Beattie, Huffington Post Canada, Published on: 18 November 2019

"Activists Need To Talk Climate Change Without Getting Sued, Top Court Hears", 15 Nov 2019

When the Wilderness Committee learned that a large Canadian mining company had proposed an open-pit copper and gold mine and tailings pond in the middle of B.C.’s wilderness, it opposed the project with all its might...The Wilderness Committee published a series of articles in early 2012 about Taseko Mines’ proposed project, and its threat to wild salmon, rainbow trout and grizzly bears...In response, the multimillion-dollar company slammed the group with a defamation suit, triggering a five-year court battle that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Taseko claimed in court documents that the online publications portrayed it as having a “callous disregard” to the environment, which damaged its reputation...

[The Wilderness Committee] argued Taseko had launched a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, also called a SLAPP suit, and eventually a judge dismissed the case. 

SLAPP suits are used by powerful entities, including corporations and individuals, to stop critics, often social and environmental activists, from speaking out, according to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. Quebec, Ontario and most recently B.C. have passed legislation to deter SLAPP suits from being filed in the first place, and to allow judges to dismiss cases early in the court process...

Canada’s highest court is currently considering two unrelated defamation cases, which the defendants argue are SLAPP suits. For the first time it is fine-tuning the law and weighing in on how it should be interpreted.

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Related companies: Taseko Mines