Human Resources Legislative Update
Ontario Passes Legislation to Prevent Proceedings that Limit Freedom of Expression
Date: October 28, 2015
On October 28, 2015, Bill 52, Protection of Public Participation Act, 2014, passed Third Reading. Bill 52 amends the Courts of Justice Act by adding a section regarding Prevention of Proceedings that Limit Freedom of Expression on Matters of Public Interest (Gag Proceedings). As stated in the Bill, the purpose of the provision is: (a) to encourage individuals to express themselves on matters of public interest; (b) to promote broad participation in debates on matters of public interest; (c) to discourage the use of litigation as a means of unduly limiting expression on matters of public interest; and (d) to reduce the risk that participation by the public in debates on matters of public interest will be hampered by fear of legal action.
A news release issued by the Ontario government states that this legislation will allow the public “to participate more freely in public discussions without fear of retribution by giving them a better way to defend themselves against strategic lawsuits, commonly known as SLAPPs (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation).”
Corresponding amendments are made to the Libel and Slander Act and the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.
Bill 52 will come into force upon Royal Assent.