574 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 4 JULY 2019
detail about the legislative saga around SLAPPs in this province dating back
to 2001 and before, and how the legal context and need for the legislation
has continued to evolve and grow.22
Hansard discloses that the debate over the bill was not only collegial, but
well informed.23 Joining the government in supporting the bill were Green
Party MLAs Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau, both of whom spoke from
personal experience about the need for the new law.24 Opposition Justice
Critic Michael Lee (UVic Law, 1996) was also well briefed, dishing up some
astutely posed questions as the bill moved forward.25
On the day that the bill passed, Attorney General Eby tweeted: “Pleasantly
surprising unanimous vote in the legislature today to pass the free
expression protecting ‘Protection of Public Participation Act’”.26 I saw the
tweet as I headed into my 1L class that afternoon. Good opportunity to talk
to them about law reform and the long game, I thought.
Dolphin Delivery. See also Hill v Church of Scientology
1. Bill 2, Protection of Public Participation Act, 4th Sess,
41st Parl, British Columbia, 2019 (assented to 25
March 2019), SBC 2019, c 3.
2. See Public Participation Project, “State Anti-SLAPP
Laws”, online: <anti-slapp.org/your-states-freespeech
protection>. This figure does not include the
District of Columbia and the U.S. territory of Guam,
both of which also have enacted anti-SLAPP laws.
3. SBC 2001, c 19, as repealed by the Miscellaneous
Statutes Amendment Act, 2001, SBC 2001, c 32, s 28.
4. See supra note 2 for a list of American states that
have anti-SLAPP laws.
5. Their publications include George W Pring & Penelope
Canan, “‘Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation’
in Government” in Leonard W Levy &
Kenneth L Karst, eds, Encyclopedia of the American
Constitution (New York: Macmillan Reference USA,
2000); and George W Pring & Penelope Canan,
SLAPPs: Getting Sued for Speaking Out (Philadelphia:
Temple University Press, 1996).
6. The CPP was active during the mid- to late-1990s.
My colleagues on the CPP included Carolyn Canfield,
Ken Millard, Lynn Hunter and Ernie Yacub. The
CPP worked closely with Greg McDade, QC, and
Don Lidstone, QC. It also collaborated with the BC
Civil Liberties Association, whose president (from
1993–1995) was Andrew Wilkinson, QC, now
Leader of the Official Opposition.
7. See Chris Tollefson, “Strategic Lawsuits against Public
Participation: Developing a Canadian Response”
(1994) 73:2 Can Bar Rev 200. Further discussion of
SLAPP-related developments in BC can be found in
Michaelin Scott & Chris Tollefson, “Strategic Lawsuits
Against Public Participation: The British Columbia
Experience” (2010) 19:1 Review of European Community
and International Development Law 45.
8. RWDSU v Dolphin Delivery Ltd, 1986 2 SCR 573
of Toronto, 1995 2 SCR 1130; BCGEU v
British Columbia (Attorney General), 1988 2 SCR
9. See generally Tollefson, supra note 7. See also New
York Times Co v Sullivan, 376 US 254 (1964).
10. 1999 CarswellBC 2148 (WL).
11. 2009 SCC 61 Grant. See also the companion case
Quan v Cusson, 2009 SCC 62.
12. Grant, supra note 11 at para 96.
13. An Act to amend the Code of Civil Procedure to prevent
improper use of the courts and promote freedom
of expression and citizen participation in public
debate, SQ 2009, c 12, enacting arts 54.1–54.6 of
CCP, c C-25 (now arts 51–56 of CCP, c C-25.01).
14. Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015, SO
2015, c 23, enacting (inter alia) ss 137.1-137.5 of
the Courts of Justice Act, RSO 1990, c C.43.
15. Expression is defined in s 137.1(2) of the Courts of
Justice Act as “any communication, regardless of
whether it is made verbally or non-verbally, whether
it is made publicly or privately, and whether or not it
is directed at a person or entity”.
16. “Public interest” is not defined in the statute. Subsequent
cases have suggested that it should be interpreted
in a manner consistent with the definition
adopted in Grant. See e.g. 1704604 Ontario Ltd v
Pointes Protection Association, 2018 ONCA 685
18. Ibid at para 45.
19. Platnick v Bent, 2018 ONCA 687 Platnick.
20. File numbers 38376 (Pointes) and 38374 (Platnick).
21. The Ontario law was also adopted in model form by
the Uniform Law Conference of Canada in 2017.
22. Fittingly, in Committee of the Whole, the Attorney
General was accompanied by AG legal counsel Russell
Getz, who also played a key role in the process
culminating in the passage of BC’s original anti-