2017-04-04 Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC), Submission to. Cyberviolence, Anti-SLAPP legislation and Defamation Law, Tragedy of the Commons (all related)
The cover letter was submitted, a SUMMARY. It is followed by a document with the details .
COVER LETTER (a Summary, actually submitted)
April 6, 2017
TO: Marie Bordeleau Executive Director Uniform Law Conference of Canada
Submitted via http://www.ulcc.ca/en/contact
In follow-up to phone conversation: I made a submission to the Law Reform Commission (LRC) of Saskatchewan, considered at their September 2016 meeting. They referred: cyberviolence is on the ULCC agenda. Hence my communication with you.
I understand from our first conversation that your intention is to:
- Communicate with the BC Delegation to the ULCC Annual Meeting (Regina, mid-August). I am hopeful that the BC delegation will want to represent the Documentation I will provide, at the Meeting. I live on Vancouver Island and will answer questions or otherwise assist, if it would be helpful.
- Further, the intention is to communicate the documentation to the Cyberviolence Working Group in the ULCC.
The Documentation begins with the Justice System as a tool of coercion and intimidation (SLAPP/anti SLAPP legislation). From there into cyberbullying. What you see is the threat of a Lawsuit (SLAPP) as an effective tool of the bully/tyrant. It is used to silence, to take away the Charter Right to Free Speech, through the creation of fear. It is used the same, whether in the real, or cyber world.
The three examples provided make that point.
The magic recipe that delivers for the plaintiff (cyberbully) in SLAPP is:
- deficient defamation law +
- the confidentiality (silencing) imposed in the mandatory “Dispute Resolution” part of the process +
- the high costs of legal representation +
- the conventional wisdom of lawyers to always recommend that defendants “settle” in defamation cases (pay the price demanded by the plaintiff – – “shut up and pay me money to stop my bullying and extreme harassment of you”).
- the ability of the plaintiff to drop the claim if defendants won’t capitulate
- the ability of the plaintiff to draw out the time spent in the “Dispute Resolution Process” (confidential – – never to become public knowledge)
- the fact that Court awards to defendants in defamation cases are “a few thousand dollars”, far short of the costs of defending against a SLAPP suit.
I hope that the ULCC will help to establish:
- Effective legislation to thwart the use of the threat of the legal system to coerce, intimidate and silence criticism.
Note 1: SLAPP is the original, commonly-used term. But SLAPP is not the name under which Law Reform should be done.
The reason becomes apparent after reading the 3 examples of SLAPP. The nomenclature needs to be broad enough to encompass SLAPP used by individuals, not only by corporate entities.
- Effective legislation to thwart Cyber violence.
- Effective legislation to address the deficiencies of defamation law.
As things stand today, I do not know where citizen-centred law reform in Canada will come from. Law Reform capacity has been gutted, as far as I can see. I suspect it would be helpful to you, to have input from citizens to help make the case.
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DETAILED DOCUMENTATION IN SUPPORT (did not transmit)
RE: Cyberviolence, Anti-SLAPP legislation and Defamation Law, Tragedy of the Commons (all related)
RE: A re-statement of the role of the state, the role of policing and Justice in Canada.
The latter point is not addressed in the Appended. Elaboration:
I understand that a person who murders is prosecuted by the state. Why? Because physical violence isn’t a personal thing like a contract. It is a problem of the society; it is a state problem, a state responsibility.
If the use of lawsuits has an element of extortion, another form of violence, it is similarly a state problem and state responsibility to prosecute.
The role of the state is to protect citizens against violence. As I understand things, citizens agree to abandon violence; we pay taxes for policing and the justice system in exchange for the ability to live in relative security, without fear. Read the three examples in the Appended – – see what you think.
The Justice System is funded – – owned – – by citizens. It is the responsibility of citizens.
If we are fortunate, in the face of ineffective systems, communities will find their own ways to meet local needs. If we are ineffective, violence will increase for the simple reason that it’s affordable to hire someone to break the knee-caps of an aggressor; it is not affordable to use the justice system.
Perhaps not from your perspective, but from mine: there appears to be a bias in the Justice system to favor the funding of corporate services at the expense of evolution to meet citizen needs.
Example 1: a criterion for ranking law schools in Canada is the number of graduates hired by the top law firms. The clients of the top law firms are corporations and businesses. So if a Canadian law school wants to “rank”, it has to focus on corporate law. As everyone knows, lawyers charge at rates affordable by the wealthy, making “justice” inaccessible to the “99%”. But it’s the “99%” who own the whole system, funding universities and all the accessory entities. We pay the bills, plus the community costs associated with ineffective systems.
Example 2: the Law Reform Commission (SK) is well-intentioned. It has ONE dedicated PART-TIME employee. Part of LRC’s law reform will be for corporate law purposes. Remove time for administrative matters, there’s not much leftover.
If the Justice and Policing Systems, the Governments in Canada, will not dedicate resources to create access to a Justice System designed to serve every day citizens, violence will increase because people are not stupid. Nor are they impotent. They will take (must take?) matters into their own hands if the Justice System and Rule of Law is not available to them. Violence begets violence in that system, simply because it is the available means of defence.
The Rule of Law is fundamental to Democracy. It is being undermined through our failures to reform and evolve. There are too many financial beneficiaries of the status quo.
It is a serious matter, as the appended documentation attests. I will be thoroughly appreciative of radical efforts by the ULCC to address long-standing, talked-about dysfunctionality. The Chief Justice of Canada has admonished the profession, for years now, calling for much-needed action. The profession has not, and is not going to? deliver the goods.
THE NEED FOR ANTI-SLAPP TYPE LEGISLATION IN ALL JURISDICTIONS
A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is
intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
Note 1: SLAPP is the original, commonly-used term. However, the use of SLAPP has evolved beyond the “Public Participation” aspect. SLAPP is not the name under which Law Reform should be done.
Note 2: Under-lined text is a clickable link.
The following documentation follows a path:
- EXAMPLES OF SLAPP SUITS Large corporations use the threat of a lawsuit to silence critics.
Which leads to
- ANTI-SLAPP LEGISLATION (Ontario, Quebec, USA)
Which transitions into today’s world of social media (cyber-bullying and SLAPP):
costly lawsuits are being used to silence people who are posting negative reviews. We need to make it cheaper, easier and quicker to get rid of these lawsuits so that people are talking about matters of interest to the public and are expressing their opinion or are saying something that’s true, which is what the anti-SLAPP legislation does.
I use real-life, practical examples from Saskatchewan. I have no doubt that citizens in other provinces and territories will be able to tune in, because my experiences are not unique.
The Attitude: “But this is Saskatchewan. It’s not an issue here.” . . . ?
- SASKATCHEWAN – FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SCIENTIST USE OF SLAPP
- UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN USE OF SLAPP
- SASKATCHEWAN – INDIVIDUAL’S USE OF SLAPP (ARISING OUT OF CYBER-BULLYING OF YOUNG WOMAN)
- ISSUE: FREE SPEECH
- ISSUE: THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS
- RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CYBER-BULLYING, SLAPP and DEFAMATION LAW. SHOULD THEY BE ADDRESSED TOGETHER?
- THE SIZE OF THE PROBLEM WITH CYBER-VIOLENCE, then to
- CYBER-VIOLENCE WITH IMPUNITY, THE POLICE AND COURT
SYSTEM WON’T OR CAN’T DO ANYTHING, AS THINGS STAND. There are currently no avenues for redress.
- ISSUE: THE LAW ON DEFAMATION
- WHO HAS AN INTEREST IN ANTI-SLAPP LEGISLATION? (later)
- REMEDY: LEGISLATION (later)
Now, the details.
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- EXAMPLES OF SLAPP SUITS Large corporations use the threat of a lawsuit to silence critics.
Libel Suits are Meant to Slapp Free Speech is an early documentation (1998) of the problem.
. . . Canada’s two huge logging companies, MacMillan Bloedel and Fletcher Challenge have sued hundreds of citizens, communities and environmental groups for saying bad things about clearcutting. Monsanto, maker of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH), sued several small Midwest dairies for advertising that their milk is BGH-free. . . . (BGH = bovine growth hormone)
Saskatchewanians may remember Monsanto’s lawsuit against Percy Schmeiser, or the dispatch of RCMP officers to the homes of organic farmers at the behest of Monsanto for the same purpose of intimidation. Percy could not have defended himself without incurring gargantuan debt. Community-based benefits and fund-raising helped pay.
Monsanto’s use of the legal system to send a warning (“chill”) to farmers was thwarted, but only because Monsanto chose the wrong person to bring a lawsuit against, and because people rallied to pay the costs.
Corporations have millions to pay lawyers. But Who pays? For the corporation, legal bills are an operating expense. They reduce taxable income. Which means a smaller contribution to the costs of “public services” such as the justice system they are using for SLAPP purposes. Meanwhile, huge amounts of citizen’s donated time and money go into fund-raising to defend the public interest against the SLAPP. Citizens pay on both accounts. Sheeple? Discontent?
- ANTI-SLAPP LEGISLATION (Ontario, Quebec, USA) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participation Ontario
In Ontario, the decision in Daishowa v. Friends of the Lubicon (see  O.J. No. 3855 Ont. Ct. Gen. Div.) (QL) was also instructive on SLAPPs. A motion brought by the corporate plaintiff Daishowa to impose conditions on the defendant Friends of the Lubicon Indian Band that they would not represent Daishowa’s action as a SLAPP was dismissed.
By 2010, the Ontario Attorney-General issued a major report which identified SLAPP as a major problem but initially little or nothing was done.
. . . In October 2015, Ontario passed the Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015.
. . . The Ontario Civil Liberties Association has called upon the Attorney General to go further, as Bill 83 does not correct fundamental flaws with Ontario’s defamation law which impose a one-sided burden of proof to force defendants to disprove falsity, malice, and damage within a very limited framework where “truth”, “privilege”, “fair comment”, and “responsible reporting” are their only recognised defences.
Québec’s then Justice Minister, Jacques Dupuis, proposed an anti-SLAPP bill on June 13, 2008.  The bill was adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec on June 3, 2009.
. . . . The Quebec law is substantially different in structure than that of California or other jurisdictions, however as Quebec’s Constitution generally subordinates itself to international law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights applies.
(Aside: the Wikipedia information on SLAPP does not mention Monsanto, a Godfather of
SLAPP suits. An edit should be sent to Wikipedia.)
From Public Participation Project, Fighting for Free Speech http://www.antislapp.org/slappdash–faqs–about–slapps/
It Might Get Harder for Someone to Silence You with a Lawsuit
By Michael Arria / AlterNet, May 18, 2016
Currently 28 states have some kind of anti-SLAPP statutory protection. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, which refers to litigation intended to silence critics by sticking them with the need for an exorbitant legal defense. Think of the Church of Scientology’s attempts to intimidate whistleblowers with threats of legal action. It’s also used by corporations, like McDonald’s suing environmental activists for distributing pamphlets that were critical of the company’s policies.
Lawmakers have been pushing for federal SLAPP legislation for years, but it finally looks as if a substantial bipartisan effort is underway. The ideal model for federal rules is California, the state with the most expansive anti-SLAPP protections. A recent Los Angeles Times editorial explains the existing system:
When someone is hit with a lawsuit that feels like a SLAPP, he or she can quickly file a motion to strike. The court then puts the original lawsuit on hold while determining whether the person was, in fact, being sued for exercising free-speech rights, petitioning the government or speaking in a public forum on ‘an issue of public interest.’ If so, the court will toss out the lawsuit unless the plaintiff can show that the claims are legitimate and likely to succeed at trial. To guard against abusive anti-SLAPP motions, the side that loses such a case has to pay the other side’s legal fees.
The federal proposal, H.R. 2304, is sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican. Farenthold’s political affiliation may confuse those who only associate anti-SLAPP efforts with corporate critics, but there’s potentially a libertarian, even conservative, appeal to such legislation. When asked about the importance of the bill, Farenthold explained:
If someone posts something negative, whether it’s true or their opinion, both of which are protected speech under the First Amendment, costly lawsuits are being used to silence people who are posting negative reviews. We need to make it cheaper, easier and quicker to get rid of these lawsuits so that people are talking about matters of interest to the public and are expressing their opinion or are saying something that’s true, which is what the anti-SLAPP legislation does.
- SASKATCHEWAN – FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SCIENTIST USE OF SLAPP
2004-04-10 Tom Wolf, Health Canada scientist threatens to sue me. Response – the mafia uses threat of broken bones.
(Note: CropLife Canada is the lobby machine for the chemical industry. And it’s actually Dr. Wolf, not Mr. Wolf as I refer to him.)
MY RESPONSE TO LAWYER (Woloshyn & Company, LLP)
Dear Stephen Nicholson:
I am in receipt of your registered letter, October 4th and email copy of same.
The email I sent to City Council contains information provided verbally by Mr. Wolf himself at the September 23rd meeting of the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC), in response to the written question handed to him (approximate wording), “Is this the same Tom Wolf as whose work appears in the communications of CropLife? If so, he is in a serious conflict-of-interest”.
In his response, Mr. Wolf said that he was seconded from Agriculture Canada to work at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Mr. Wolf specifically stated that he has been paid by CropLife and that he seeks funding from them. He specifically stated that he has written a manual for CropLife. I gather that he provided the amount of one payment ($10,000.00) to the reporter from the Star Phoenix, as I interpret the newspaper article regarding the conflict-of-interest.
INSERT: Copies of all the related documents are at Tom Wolf, Health Canada scientist threatens to sue me. Response – the mafia uses threat of broken bones. The newspaper article (Wolf told the reporter that he had been doing work for the industry for 8 years and that for one project, as an example, he received $10,000. He declined to say how much in total he had been paid by the industry over the 8 years. I only came to know of his involvement with the industry (that the PMRA is supposed to regulate) because he jumped on me at an open meeting, said what I was saying was wrong when I knew I was right and supplied the info to prove it. I didn’t know him; it seemed a funny reaction by him – – until a friend nosed around and found him in the industry publication. There’s also a copy of the letter from the lawyer threatening to sue me, notes re my trip to Ottawa, meeting with the head-haunchos of the PMRA to find out what in hell they’re doing, the written reply from them, and so on.)
Continuing with my letter to the lawyer:
If “Mr. Wolf does not personally receive payments from the chemical industry”, as stated in your letter, (INSERT: the letter that threatens to sue me) then he should not state that such is the case. Whether one calls the payor CropLife or the chemical industry, is a matter of semantics.
I question the intent of your statement “We further understand that you may be speaking to City Council this evening (etc.)”. Presumably you, in your experience as a lawyer would know better than I, that sensitive matters involving individuals will be dealt with in camera. That would be routine.
If intended for me, the statement “Any dissemination, distribution or copying of this message is strictly prohibited.”, I respond that you sent the communication to me. I am free to do with it as I wish, except to alter it.
In light of the preceding points and other statements in your letter, I view your letter to me as an intimidation tactic. Gangsters bully people through threat of broken bones. The chemical industry has an established history (I will be happy to provide specific examples should you desire them) of attempting to intimidate through the threat of harm to the person’s finances and well-being, utilizing the legal system as the weapon.
For the record:
I did not send my complaint to “various media outlets”. I did send it to the other affected parties you named – the City, SEAC and the Auditor General (who issued an extremely critical report on the PMRA in October 2003 and who therefore has an interest). I also sent it to my personal email network.
The matter reached the Star Phoenix because a City reporter saw the vaporooter item on the Sept 23rd meeting agenda for SEAC. He knew of my interest in the subject from an earlier meeting of SEAC which he had attended. It was quite natural for him to phone me.
- UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN USE OF SLAPP
2011-10-15 My response to Letter from Lawyer, University threatens legal action.
This threat of legal action was also sent to Jordan Miller.
RE: Your file reference 30000.455 USSWORD Infringing Use of Registered Marks (USSWORD = University of Saskatchewan Senators WOrking to Revive Democracy)
A copy of your letter is posted at 2011–10–06 Letter from University’s Lawyer threatens legal action
“ . . . cease and desist . . . If you do not comply, we have instructions to pursue all available legal remedies.”
. . . . Let me say, regarding your letter and prior to addressing the legal issue you raise:
the justice system is a well-known tool of intimidation and coercion used by large corporate interests and the Government with seemingly unlimited financial resources, compared to the ordinary, well-intentioned private citizen.
I am acquainted with the practice. It is a disturbing trend, along with the use of the police (RCMP) to protect unregulated corporate interests (Encana pipeline incidents bring out the RCMP anti-terrorist squad when unregulated, very poisonous sour gas is causing still-births and miscarriages in women and in livestock. People are trying to defend the health and lives of their family and environment. They exhaust legal remedies, are left to their wits and then characterized as terrorists.)
It is my job as an elected Senator of the University of Saskatchewan to represent the voice of the owners of the University, the citizens of Saskatchewan. The role of “the loyal opposition” in democratic institutions is to ask the hard questions, to hold officials accountable to citizens.
The University of Saskatchewan has been, and continues, using the legal system to silence and intimidate:
- The research project spreadsheet of approximately FIFTY cases of harassment at the University, shows
- twenty cases going to the Court of Queen’s Bench
- at least seven going to the Court of Appeal, and
- others going to quasi-judiciary bodies.
- at least three of the cases are “exit with a confidentiality agreement”, commonly known as a gag order bought with a pay-out. The pay-outs are known to be large, some VERY large.
As a Senator representing the community interest, I see reflected in the spreadsheet literally millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees, financial settlements to aggrieved victims, and salaries paid to administrators who are dealing with the disputes. There are serious questions to be answered concerning conflict resolution at the U of S.
- An issue raised by USSWORD is the unacceptable conflicts-of-interest at the University. Nancy Hopkins is the Chair of the Board of Governors. She has been on the
Cameco Board since 1992 and as at the end of December 2009 had $1.8 million in
Cameco shares. She chairs the Search Committee for the next President of the
University; persons with connections to the industry are in contention for the position.
The President, Peter MacKinnon responds in Senate by proclaiming that there IS no conflict-of-interest. We all know what a wonderful person Ms Hopkins is.
A reading of the minutes of the Board of Governors indicates that Ms Hopkins does not recuse herself from deliberations related to the nuclear industry on campus.
When the Government of Saskatchewan channels $30 million (or is it $45M) to the
University ear-marked for research and development to benefit the nuclear industry, is Ms. Hopkins going to uphold University autonomy in its ability to allocate funds without political interference? And is she concerned about the long-term sustainability of that program should that government funding be cut in future because they (and the nuclear industry) believe they are not getting the anticipated return on their “investment”? No.
Does she benefit from the advancement of the nuclear research at U of S? After Fukishima the world is exiting nuclear and Ms. Hopkins’ Cameco shares have taken a nose-dive. Government (public) funding, through the University, of Cameco’s interests will be extremely beneficial to the investments of Nancy Hopkins – – but (repeat) the Administration of the University contends there is no conflict-of-interest.
USSWORD raises the issues; the University seems unable to deal with them through respectful exchange. They deny and then threaten “the full force of the law”.
The question is “WHY”?
Link back to the spreadsheet of harassment cases. You may or may not know: Academic Women for Justice (INSERT: not based in Sask.) has lodged a complaint with the Minister responsible for Post-Secondary Education, Rob Norris. They recommend that the University of Saskatchewan no longer be eligible for Canada Research Chair Funding because of the cases. This is a matter of serious concern for the owners of the University and me as a representative.
But still the “WHY?”. . . . Connect the dots.
(name) became a renowned researcher in water. She was awarded a Canada Research Chair at the University of Saskatchewan, bringing $16 million with her. I came to know of (name) because she was the ONE scientist at the University who engaged with the community around Outlook over the question of adding high-volume water users and polluters of the South Sask River, in the form of intensive cattle operations. (The South Sask River supplies 40% of the people in the province with the water that comes out of their taps. There are enormous demands on the River already. The size of the promoted livestock operations is like adding the demands of another entire city.)
Then big surprise: (name) recently and abruptly left, a great loss to the University. . . WHY did she leave? I know that in early summer she was extremely worried that the University was going to fire her which was incomprehensible given her publication and work record. The University has celebrated and profiled her virtues.
Hmmm . . . I recall a social conversation with (name). I had been up to Wollaston Lake at a Keepers of the Water Conference. Keepers of the Water (attendees of the Conference) are First Nations people from northern Alaska, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The elders are very concerned by the levels of cancer in their communities, unknown in the past. Because of the disease levels (poisons going into the environment) they have joined hands across the North to protect their children.
(Name) told me her experience by which she was obviously disturbed: she had been taking water samples in the North. They had a Geiger counter with them as they went along the shore. The counter was going crazy. What bothered her most was that children were innocently playing on the shore when even adults should not have been in the area without protection, given the readings on the Geiger counter.
Wollaston Lake = Cameco. The University of Saskatchewan = Cameco University. The connections are well documented. Please ask if you would like them.
I received a brown envelope. The Administration of the University can confirm the content. . . . (name) asserted the need for laboratories at the University to be brought up to Canadian standards. As I understand she is a professional and has worked under the world’s best. In order for her work to be scientifically reliable she must be working in laboratories that meet standards.
Whose interests are served by sub-standard laboratories? Whose interests are served if the scientist with the Geiger counter is forced out of the University?
END OF EXCERPT
The letter received by Jordan Miller and myself was a SLAPP suit, the University attempting to silence the legitimate exercise of calling to account.
“ . . . cease and desist . . . If you do not comply, we have instructions to pursue all available legal remedies.”
(We were cited for TradeMark infringement. We, University Senators, worked with a group of Senators. We called ourselves “University of Saskatchewan Senators WOrking to Revive Democracy”, or USSWORD for short. “University of Saskatchewan” is trade-marked. The set of related documents are at the posting, 2011-10-15 My response to Letter from Lawyer, University threatens legal action.)
- SASKATCHEWAN – INDIVIDUAL’S USE OF SLAPP (ARISING OUT OF CYBERBULLYING OF YOUNG WOMAN)
Anti-SLAPP legislation in some jurisdictions has been effective in reducing the use of SLAPP as a tool of coercion, insofar as it applies to Corporate entities versus the Public Interest.
But the world evolves and unfortunately, the SLAPP practice developed by large corporate interests has now been learned by individuals. The last paragraph under 2. ANTI-SLAPP LEGISLATION alludes to it: costly lawsuits are being used to silence people who are posting negative reviews.
The specific example I provide (Saskatchewan) is currently in the Justice system. Because the ULCC meeting is in August (the outcome of litigation may still be unknown), because I cannot illustrate what is happening in the real world without it, I am using it (judiciously, I hope!). You are not called upon to endorse anything. You do not need to make a judgment – there is no need for it. No names are offered, just the illustration of HOW it works (does not work).
For a year, a 26 year-old woman had been mercilessly harassed by a 42 year-old man through social media, after she stood up at a public meeting and offered a viewpoint different from his. I received a complaint from the distressed young woman through a facebook group for which I bear some responsibility, in a volunteer capacity. The complaint was of inappropriate use of Green Party social media. I arranged for the complaint to be forwarded to the office of the Green Party in Ottawa for independent, 3rd party resolution. (Only later did I learn about the previous year-long cyberbullying of the young woman.)
Because I forwarded the complaint, the man then set his sights on me and has not stopped in the three years since. He has attacked others. He threatened me with, and then brought a lawsuit. I think he expects that the costs and inadequacies of the Justice system will force me to abandon a defence against his charges against me.
The Mandatory Mediation took place in November 2016; Document Disclosure has not been done. As of March 2017, lawyer bills for me and a co-defendant are more than $25,000. I expect the cost will be $30,000 before we reach the court room door. Will the plaintiff withdraw his claim to prevent his actions from becoming public knowledge? (everything is “confidential” as long as the case is confined to “dispute resolution” and does not proceed into a court room.)
More details under 8. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CYBER-BULLYING, SLAPP and DEFAMATION LAW.
It is almost inconceivable that I, one person in a population the size of Saskatchewan’s, can serve up from personal experience the preceding 3 examples of egregious uses of the threat of a lawsuit (SLAPP) for intimidation and silencing purposes:
- The full-time Government scientist being paid as much as $10,000 per contract by the industry his Department is supposed to regulate, on-going for 8 years, when I said “This is a serious conflict-of-interest” – – the scientist paid a lawyer to threaten me with a lawsuit (silence me).
- The University of Saskatchewan paid a lawyer to threaten me with a lawsuit when I participated, as an elected member of University Senate, in bringing to attention the conflict-of-interest and actions that contravened Laws set out in The University Act.
- A cyberbully brings a lawsuit for defamation against myself, later another lawsuit for defamation against a man. Independent of, and unknown to each other, we both have serious concerns about the on-line activities of the cyberbully.
The motivation for bringing the lawsuits is no different from that of the Government scientist or the University. Chill. Silence. There are no Charter Rights.
I grew up in rural Saskatchewan which is conservative, but community-minded in spirit. What is my fault?
Now to The Larger Issues . . .
- ISSUE: FREE SPEECH
Civil litigation is for the wealthy and a few people like myself who believe that Charter Rights have to be defended at all costs. We must stand in solidarity with others who have defended the right to free speech at huge personal cost. Sometimes it is with their lives and the lives of their family members on the line.
Reference publication of the “Satanic Verses” in 1989 by Salman Rushdie. The Ayatollah
Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie. “Joseph Anton: A Memoir”, written by Rushdie, documents the refusal of himself, a handful of publishers and a few others to bow.
Their sole motivation: they understood that free speech must be an inviolable right. With responsibilities, yes, but not to be abandoned out of fear.
It takes a deeper understanding, the ability to see that if we individually bow to violence, we collectively condemn our children to a more violent future. You don’t save them by avoiding or failing to deal with the issue. Quite the opposite.
My resolve to stay the course against a cyberbully was cemented by the realization that it is an issue of free speech. The Justice System is poorly equipped to defend the Charter Right.
- ISSUE: THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS
As explained in letter to lawyer:
. . . However, in my opinion an agreement to settle with the plaintiff (even if it was possible) would be a short-term fix, and it would be a larger betrayal.
The betrayal can be understood in the framework of “The Tragedy of the Commons”. (The internet – – the air waves – – are part of “The Commons”.) No one of us individually is responsible, and therefore no one is responsible.
A short read may be helpful: Battles to protect the Commons.
When there are incursions onto the Commons, people have to come together to defend it. If not, the Commons is lost and the whole community suffers – – a lot.
OTHER people work hard, all the time, in defence of the Commons. Without them, for example, the quality of water coming out of your tap would be less. Many more people would side-step the issue through the purchase of bottled water, if they can afford it.
Another: there have been monumental efforts by people in Canada and the U.S. to stop tiered (preferential) access to the Internet that large corporate interests seek.
In the context of a court case:
Some of you have daughters, sisters, nieces, or are young women yourselves. The case against me exists because I forwarded a complaint – – this older man was using the internet against a young woman, in ways you would not tolerate.
Click on: 2016–07–29 ‘What law am I breaking?’ How a Facebook troll came undone
This 2016 story is of young women who had the courage to fight against such cyber-bullies, and win. It’s a win for everyone who has a presence on the internet. AND for everyone who has a daughter, sister or niece.
One woman, Brierley Newton, stood in defence of the Commons. She is not asking us for our gratitude. But she should expect that we will at least stand in solidarity when the ball lands in our court.
Standing down from this man would be a betrayal by me. We need to ADD to the success of these young women, not subtract from it.
You might think of the case of Amanda Todd (a Canadian teen who committed suicide as a consequence of on-line predation). This is not as extreme, but it is related. (Today comes the news: Court to extradite Amanda Todd cyberbullying suspect; Aydin Coban will finish criminal trial in Netherlands being tried in Canada.)
To what extremes will/would the man go? So far, he knows that the Police and the Justice system will not touch him.
If I capitulate, not only would his belief be reinforced, but he will potentially make money (a “global settlement” as it is called) doing what he does. He would flaunt a win, which would further empower him AND others. The above article, How a Troll came
Undone, describes the extent of the problem, as does the UN Report on CyberViolence.
We leave a more violent world behind us, if we do not accept our responsibility.
The tragedy and comedy of human existence: we are often unwitting participants in our own demise (a settlement with the cyberbully, pay him to stop, abandon the Charter Right to free speech, accept tyranny.)
- RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SLAPP AND CYBER-BULLYING. SHOULD THEY BE ADDRESSED TOGETHER? (later) (did not do)
9. THE SIZE OF THE PROBLEM WITH CYBER-VIOLENCE
UN report on cyberviolence highlights rampant issue online.
The UN Report was discussed on CBC Radio, The Current, which is addressed in Cyberbullying, an issue of free speech. Salman Rushdie, a guiding light.
There is Amanda Todd.
A recent case from Alberta: white racists’ (supremacists’) vicious online attacks on a First Nations female professor.
Canadian lawyer, journalist and author Paula Todd (not related to Amanda Todd) published “Extreme Mean, Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online” in 2014. Described as a “meticulous and dramatic investigation …… serves as a demand for action”.
In the search for help to deal with a cyberbully I found the last chapter of Paula Todd’s book Extreme Mean to be a good statement of the challenge that society has to address, with the rapidly-developed internet technology and its empowerment of destructive forces.
10. CYBER-VIOLENCE WITH IMPUNITY, THE POLICE AND COURT SYSTEM WON’T OR CAN’T DO ANYTHING, AS THINGS STAND.
There are currently no avenues for redress.
There is plentiful documentation of the problem.
Why not just go to the Police and the Court system?
Experience in Saskatoon:
A number of people have taken serious complaints against the same person to the Police, as early as January 2014.
As of March 2017 – Police could not or have not taken effective action.
Some examples, but not an exhaustive list of the complainants:
January 7, 2014 (names withheld)
I learned the hard way that harassment through social media is not taken seriously by local police . . .. I went to the police with all of the harassment that ( – – ) has thrown at me, and they said there’s no way to prove it was really (him) who said and did these things. . . .
– – – – –
Lastly, I’m not looking to endanger (him), despite how hard he has come after me–that would just lower me to his level. I won’t spread his last name around–I’ve known it for months now, and the only action I’ve taken with it was to implore (his) father to talk some sense into (him), and get him to remove the websites harassing me. I haven’t put it on my website, nor do I plan to. It didn’t work to reach out to his father, so as I see it, I’m out of ammo.
7 Jan 2014 To (name withheld) from Sandra Finley
Re the conversation with (local radio talk-show host’s) producer.
We discussed the matter of the Police. ( – – -) felt the same as what you articulated. In the end, the Police will not deal with the complaint.
(radio talk show host) had attempted to shut down the cyber-bullying, prior to my involvement.)
17 July 2014 From (a different woman) to Sandra Finley
Subject: Bullying/cyberbullying by ( – – )
Here is the email I sent to Sgt. (name) yesterday. You can see that (- – ) has not stopped and now is beginning to harass me through work. . . .
January 10, 2014 from the young woman, after more than a year of cyberbullying and fear:
(This particular young woman, not the only target of the perpetrator, was forced off social media. In February 2014, after battling the cyberbully since December 2012, for her safety and sanity she was essentially forced to leave Saskatoon. She moved to another province. March 2017 – – the perpetrator continues to deliver his destructive wares with impunity. The cyberbully has added actual lawsuits (versus the Threat of), two of them now, claiming defamation.)
I guess I’m just a bit war-weary, Sandra. . . . this experience with him has cost me a lot. I miss seeing and hearing about my friends on Facebook. I tire of thinking so often about this madman that has turned my life upside-down, but at times I’m almost consumed with it, because that means I get my life back. I wonder how calm and collected people like . . . would be if it were they that had their photos spread all over the internet simply for opposing a wannabe tyrant. Memories of the most vulnerable and fragile times (my struggles with depression) brought vividly up, in an attempt to get people not to hire me. Day after day, these sites remain up, and it’s really affecting me. I have reported the sites, and received e-mails explaining until there is legal precedent proving the blog’s inaccuracies (!) wordpress will not remove them. All of which makes me wonder why I am even bothering playing by the rules (ie, not posting the TRUE info we have on – – – ), when – – – plays only down and dirty?
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
February 4, 2014
I am 28. . . .
I appreciate your kindness and for defending me. I think I’m going to have to take a more decided step back from this whole affair. While I am no longer as afraid for my person (though there are more websites bearing my face, all threatening my financial ruin), I have been left quite adrift from much of this. I suppose you could call it disillusionment (or maybe it’s just old fashioned depression)
I’m sorry this message is such a downer. I’m just not in a terribly bright place right now. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
There is, in addition, the APPENDED CYBERBULLY INTERFERENCE WITH BUSINESS CONTRACTS, BLOG HOSTING SERVICE AND DOMAIN NAME REGISTRAR
It is documentation or evidence. . . . (not included. Please ask if you’d like the observations of how it works.)