With thanks to The Narwhal
By Stephanie Wood
‘Every citizen in British Columbia won’: court dismisses defamation suit against conservationists
A B.C. environmental group that tested a provincial law intended to protect freedom of speech and prevent frivolous lawsuits from bogging down the courts has won.
On Monday, the B.C. Supreme Court dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by a developer against the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society and its president Ezra Morse, ruling that the case did not have substantial merit. The case was a test of B.C.’s new Protection of Public Participation Act, intended to prevent strategic lawsuits against public participation (often referred to as SLAPP suits), which can be used by companies to silence and out-resource opponents.
While the law has been tested a handful of times, this may be the first time it was used to defend an environmentalist against defamation claims arising from land-use disputes, according to Morse’s counsel, Chris Tollefson.
“This has shown this legislation works. It can provide protection for people who are engaged in lawful, democratic expression,” Tollefson said in an interview. . . . cont below