I am delighted that this attempt to restrict freedom of speech ended in favour of Kathi Mills. SLAPP suits are invariably an attempt to shut people up and to use superior financial resources to do so. Many States in the US are making a real attempt to prevent these cases from taking up valuable court time. The expense of defending against such lawsuits can effectively coerce victims into making settlements.
Sadly SLAPP-like suits are still permitted in Canada. Many foreign businesses, such as the New York Post and the Washington Post, choose to bring their cases to court in Canada. Burnett states, “Our libel laws are the least protective of free speech in the English-speaking world.”
We need a new law to protect people from SLAPP suits, which threaten the very foundations of free speech. A previous version was repealed in 2001.
I note the following pages about Canada on Wikepedia. I believe that Dan Burnett (quoted below) is a Canadian lawyer practising in Vancouver.
However, the direction of Canadian libel law has markedly differed from that in other English speaking countries. While Canadian lawyers, like those in other countries, advise strongly and publicly against legal intimidation of political critics, the Law of Defamation in Canada notes that the common law of defamation has been described by scholars and judges as “artificial and archaic” and characterized by “absurdities”, “irrationality”, and “minute and barren distinctions” (p. 1-3). Dan Burnett argued that "other “free and democratic societies” have concluded that the traditional common law requires reform" to avoid infringing free expression and political freedom, but Canada has not. It also inhibits online journalism. Burnett says "Internet publication by media outlets opens the door wide to forum shopping, raising concerns that Canada will become a haven for libel plaintiffs who likely would not succeed in their more natural forum." Several online journalism forums in Canada have closed or restricted access drastically due to the exposure to nuisance or vexatious litigation.
In most developed countries, a combination of discouragment to vexatious litigation, general recognition of chilling effects, and sometimes formal definition of a strategic lawsuit against public participation, serve to limit politically-motivated libel suits. Many attorneys advise strongly against filing any suit against critics with political motivations. The McLibel case is usually cited as libel law backfiring.