Anti-SLAPP Legislation Passed in Quebec

By Andrea Archibald, staff reporter

Kathleen Weil, Minister of Justice of Quebec, has said “being pleased with the adoption of this law,” in an official statement

MONTREAL (RPRN) 6/4/2009–Yesterday the Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed Bill 9, effectively banning SLAPP lawsuits in the province. The bill, first introduced on April 7, 2009, is the first of its kind in Canada.

A SLAPP, or a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, is a lawsuit used by large companies or institutions to quiet public criticism from local citizens or organized groups. The objective of the plaintiff is not a win, per se, but to both bankrupt a defendant into silence and to intimidate others.

As previously reported by RPRN, animal-rights activist and retiree Louise Auger is currently defending one such lawsuit brought on by  Inspecteur Canin, a kill dog pound in the village of Saint-Lin,  and per today’s email to RPRN, she is reported to be “pleased  with the adoption of this new law”, as it could mean the “end of her legal battle”. Augier was sued by Inspecteur Canin for defamation when she spoke against the use of the gas chamber to kill the animals.

Kathleen Weil, Quebec Minister of Justice

Bill 9, although not the first to go in front of Quebec’s National Assembly, grants judges the ability to throw out a suit deemed abusive. Unlike its predecessor Bill 99, which died on the table during the 2008 session, Bill 9 grants defendants the right to claim legal costs from plaintiffs.

The law also applies to cases currently in front of the court, including that of Louise Auger who is scheduled to go in front of the court again July 21, 2009.

In an official statement Kathleen Weil, the Minister of Justice, said that this legislation “clearly demonstrates our government’s willingness to protect the participation of citizens in public debates and to contribute to improved access to justice.”

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