Torstar daily newspaper calls Guelph development lawsuit strategic, if not a full SLAPP

Lawsuits against residents seems to be just a cost of doing business in Ontario’s municipal world.

On Sunday, the Guelph Mercury newspaper editorial, City lawsuit was strategic (Word pdf) said this about the recently dropped lawsuit:

…It was most definitely strategic. It came about amid a high stakes game of political football with a group that had significant support — albeit substantial opposition as well. If it wasn’t designed to limit public participation of a certain variety of protest, it certainly was delivered just before the five seemingly tireless activists in this matter — and several of their peers — pulled back on conspicuous advocacy efforts that might further delay development efforts at the site. Local radical activists suggested the action chilled them by the economic intimidation they perceived it to represent.

Increasingly, public money is being used for chilling citizens.

Behind closed doors at city hall, this legal action must be regarded as a winning play. For about $60,000 in legal fees, the municipality helped eliminate a pesky and very costly impediment to making progress on a pivotal civic economic development plan.

Attorney General John Gerretsen says the government is reviewing the Advisory Panel on Anti-SLAPP Legislation. Let’s hope the report is followed and isn’t derailed or diluted by the municipalities, developers, planning consultants, construction firms, real estate, and municipal law attorneys.

Torstar Corporation owns the Guelph Mercury as well as the Toronto Star which is Canada’s largest circulation daily newspaper.

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