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Anti-SLAPP Campagin - A Sign-On Letter

>Subject: Anti-SLAPP Campagin - A Sign-On Letter
>** Distribution List Suppressed**
>Mar. 18, 1998
>Dear Friend or Colleague:
>Re: Support for National Anti-SLAPP Campaign; pending trial decision in
Daishowa v Friends of the Lubicon 
>We are writing to seek your support in a national campaign to focus
attention on the phenomenon of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public
Participation (SLAPP) suits.  The trial decision in Canada's most notorious
and long-running SLAPP-type suit,  Daishowa v. Friends of the Lubicon
(Friends), is expected any day.  It is important for the Canadian public to
appreciate the broader significance and implications of the case as an
illustration of the threat posed by SLAPPs to our democratic freedoms.
>SLAPPs attack citizens for exercising their democratic rights.  They are
lawsuits commonly brought by powerful corporations to deter or punish those
who participate in democratic debate. Usually their targets have done no
more than to voice opposition to a corporate action or policy by speaking at
a public meeting, writing a letter to the editor, organizing a boycott or
signing a petition.
>Globe and Mail columnist Michael Valpy writes: 
>As governments become more spineless on environmental 	protection, citizens
groups are going to feel increasingly compelled to take action against
developers, polluters and other despoilers through boycotts, petitions, and
demonstrations.  SLAPPs are becoming the favoured tool of very large, very
wealthy 	corporations to beat down their environmental critics.  [The Globe
and Mail 12/07/95]
>In the United States, thousands of SLAPPs are filed each year.  In
recognition of the chilling effect of this challenge to democracy and the
legal system, close to twenty American states have passed anti-SLAPP
legislation in the last decade.  Daishowa's precedent-setting, multi-million
dollar suit against the Friends of the Lubicon underscores the need for
similar legislation in Canada to ensure that lawful democratic participation
is protected rather than undermined by our legal system.
>Daishowa sued the Friends of the Lubicon in 1995 in reaction to a boycott
of Daishowa paper products organized by the Friends to protest logging by
the company on land claimed by the Lubicon Cree of northern Alberta.  The
Friends mounted the boycott in 1991 when Daishowa refused to negotiate a
moratorium on logging until the Lubicon land claim was resolved.   
>As the boycott gathered momentum and gathered national and international
attention, Daishowa went to court for an injunction and damages claimed to
exceed $12 million against the Friends and three of its members.  [Maclean's
>The litigation, including a series of pre-trial skirmishes, has been costly
and protracted.  In one instance, Daishowa took the unprecedented step of
seeking an injunction to prevent a Canadian law professor from publishing
articles that described the case as a SLAPP suit. ["Daishowa tries to gag
its critics", Alternatives Journal]
>During these lengthy courtroom battles the Friends have received free
legal representation from the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, including
throughout the three-month long trial (the decision in which we are
currently awaiting). In the future, not all SLAPP targets may be as
fortunate. Unless Canadian provinces pass anti-SLAPP legislation soon, many
corporations may decide to imitate Daishowa' s example forcing citizens and
citizen's groups to defend themselves with little or no legal assistance.
>This is why we are asking your organization to endorse the following
statement.  Endorsements are being gathered from a wide range of
organizations, institutions and individuals across the country. Every
Canadian concerned about the health of our democracy should be aware of, and
concerned about, this issue.  Endorsements collected will be forwarded, as a
package, to every Canadian Premier.  Please bear in mind that time is of the
essence.  A landmark ruling on Daishowa's claim could come down any day.
>Open Letter to the Premier of [province] 
>The undersigned call upon the Premier of [province] to take immediate
action to prevent the courts of this province from being abused by Strategic
Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP  suits).
>Such lawsuits undermine the most fundamental of democratic rights: 	freedom
of expression.
>We are gravely concerned that SLAPP suits are being used in Canadian courts
to stifle legitimate democratic debate on matters of public importance.
Legislative action is needed now to protect citizens' rights to 	participate
in the political process.
>Your endorsement, consisting of the above statement on your letterhead,
should be forwarded to Anti-SLAPP Campaign c/o Sierra Legal Defence Fund,
Suite 214-131 Water Street, Vancouver, B.C., V6B 4M3. FAX 604-685-7813
>Yours truly,
>Stewart A.G. Elgie
>Managing Lawyer
>Ontario Office

Windsor & Area Social Justice & Ecological Network
PO Box 548, Windsor, ON  N9A 6M6
Voice:  519-973-1116  Fax 519-255-7361
E-mail:  riccawu@mnsi  (GreenPlanet)
web page (under construction) http://www.mnsi.net/~cea