Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – or SLAPPS – are a series of legal actions that wealthy corporations sometimes use to attempt to the limit freedom of expression and public protests.
Corporations can use these lawsuits, which are usually for defamation, as scare tactics to prevent activists from protesting about environmental or labour abuse within their organizations.
creativecommons.org/sjgibbs80Over 140 groups – including environmental organizations and those that fight for the freedom of expression and protest – have now gathered to call for the Ontario legislature to take action to prevent these lawsuits.
So do SLAPP lawsuits actual prevent people from protesting against social wrongs? A report in 2010 by the Ontario Anti-SLAPP Advisory Panel ran a survey of activist groups and found that it did indeed have an effect on their willingness to protest.
Several other countries have already adopted anti-SLAPP laws to prevent wealthy corporations from bullying activists. However, the Ontario legislature still waivers.
Environmental groups don't have the funding of say, union groups, so thus their access to legal council is limited. Environmental groups primarily rely in the pro-bono council of freedom of expression advocates, but not everyone can continually volunteer for cases for free forever.
With the implementation is anti-SLAPP laws, environmental groups would be safe to protest the many harmful planet-damaging practices that take place without fear of expensive and frivolous lawsuits from the corporate giants.
To those who have always stood up to social wrongs and value the freedom of expression, the choice is an easy one.