Anti-SLAPP legislation debated in British Columbia
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Anti-SLAPP legislation debated in British Columbia

Mr. Speaker: Member for Saanich North and the Islands. Yes, thank you Mr. Speaker It’s my pleasure to stand today and speak
to Bill 2, the Protection of Public Participation Act of 2019. I think that it’s important to frame my very
brief comments on this bill with the amount of correspondence that I have received in
support of the legislation that was proposed last year, as was raised by the member who
spoke previously. I know that this is an issue — the SLAPP
suits, anti-SLAPP legislation or the Protection of Public Participation Act that we see in
front of us today to debate — that is of particular interest to my constituents. I know that as someone who’s been in local
government, I’ve seen how this has impacted citizens in my community over the years, how
they have been participating in public processes, involved in their communities and involved
in ensuring that their municipality and their local governments and, indeed, the provincial
government are undertaking good process, and having every right to stand up for themselves
and for their rights as citizens and individuals in a community and how they have been chilled
by being served. I know my colleague is going to speak to this,
and so I’m not going to speak at great length to this. But in many respects, just the act of someone
standing on your front doorstep and serving you with legal documents — and in large
part, people that have never had any entry to any relationship with the law in that way
at all — has a way of crippling your willingness and your willingness to participate in these
public processes. So I’m certainly pleased to be able to stand
on behalf of the numerous constituents from Saanich North and the Islands and beyond who
have contacted me to say that this has had a negative impact on their lives — the strategic
lawsuits against public participation and how that has impacted their lives. I’m pleased to be able to stand today as the
government is putting forward legislation to deal with this. I know that 20 years ago, anti-SLAPP legislation
was repealed by the former B.C. Liberal government. One of the points that was made, which I find
kind of troubling in one of the quotes, is that they were concerned about it creating
a “protest culture.” I think that it’s important that we acknowledge
that what evolved instead in this province was a culture of entitlement. So as we are making sure that we protect the
public interest, and I respect the member who spoke previously about the important debate
that I think that the two legal minds on both sides of this House are going to have during
the committee stage. I certainly look forward to witnessing that
and participating as my rather small legal mind can. But I would just say that I think that it
is important that we have that discussion about the public interest because that’s clearly
what our main role here is in this place, is to protect and to act in the public interest. So as we work towards reinvigorating that
in our province, taking the focus away from the special interest and private interests
and working on behalf of the public interests, I’m heartened by the government’s efforts
to discourage the use of litigation as a means to unduly limit the participation of the public. I look forward to the debate, as I mentioned. Frankly, I would have spoken a lot longer
on this, but the member for Vancouver–Point Grey, our Attorney General, must have got
hold of my notes, so he really…. Without being repetitive, I would say that
he did a very thorough job of explaining his bill, and I look forward to engaging at the
committee stage of this debate.

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