An easy mistake to make in any discussion of freedom of expression is to believe there is absolute certainty anywhere in the definition of that term. If you are jumping into a debate on free speech certain you know exactly what you believe (plus all the implications of that belief), chances are you’ve grossly over-estimated your own position. If you’re doing that on Twitter, either get your thumbs familiar with the block/mute functions, or free up a lot of time for an epic Twitter fight unlikely to solve anything for anyone.
On September 10, 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada released its highly anticipated decisions in two cases addressing the interpretation and application of Ontario’s “anti-SLAPP” laws. The two appeals — 1704604 Ontario Ltd. v. Pointes Protection Association and Bent v.
[Co-written with Andrea Gonsalves and Carlo Di Carlo] In late 2015, the Ontario Legislature identified a problem: it saw an increasing number of defamation cases in which the plaintiff’s goal was not to obtain compensation, but instead to drag a defendant into interminable and costly litigation as a form of retribution against the defendant for speaking out against the plaintiff.
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPPs”) are when Big Resources (private or public sector) sue Little Resources (individuals, non-profit organizations) in order to silence them. If the person or organization being sued (often for defamation) can’t afford to fight the case, they are effectively prevented from speaking out on the subject that got them SLAPP’ed. The case may be weak or even ludicrous, but the merits of the case don’t matter if you can’t afford to defend yourself in court.