“The reason for the prohibition of defamation suits by government lies not with the use of taxes, or with some abstruse theory about the indivisibility of the state and the people who make up the state. Rather, it lies in the nature of democracy itself. Governments are accountable to the people through the ballot box, and not to judges or juries in courts of law. When a government is criticized, its recourse is in the public domain, not the courts. The government may not imprison, or fine, or sue, those who criticize it. The government may respond. This is fundamental. Litigation is a form of force, and the government must not silence its critics by force.“
The quote comes from a legal case outlined here: http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2006/2006canlii12970/2006canlii12970.htmlI don’t claim to know any of the specifics of the case that the Mayor has launched, nor do I claim to be a lawyer, I do however have an interest in Canadian Media & Technology law and can say that I didn’t see Mr. Guy “Puppet” Poppe’s name come up in any of my research, which I will include below, nor do I see any evidence to enforce his view that the libel laws need to be amended for the purposes he outlined, in fact the opposite is happening. The supreme court of Canada, following England’s lead, has said that there should be a defense of public interest responsible communication which should apply when a publisher is writing something that is in the public interest. One can read a fairly weighty text: Canadian Libel and Slander Actions
http://www.iposgoode.ca/media-suppression/ I wasn’t able to make it but I certainly enjoyed watching the panel on libel chill, you can view it online here:
http://podcast.yorku.ca:8080/itc/2009/osgoode/workshop_on_media_supression_ssb_w132_mar16_2010b.mp4 The panelists discuss libel chill, the “responsible communication” test, “libel tourism”, and their own experiences with defamation law. Panelists include: Elaine Dewar, Author and Journalist
Heather Robertson, Author and Journalist
Paul B. Schabas, Partner, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP Mr. Schabas, who works closely with the Supreme Court of Canada on reforming libel laws speaks about the defense of opinion, the right to be wrong and how our libel laws were weighted too heavily in favor of plantifs and reputation interests and didn’t properly reflect the chilling effect the law has on journalists newspapers and other communicators. It is my opinion that in Aurora we have a government that is under the majority control of unreasonable people. People who have chosen to take legal action against mounting criticism by suing 3 citizens, using their own tax dollars to foot the bill. We have a government that fails to participate in online discourse. We have a government that seeks to silence all criticism as opposed to listen to it and learn from it. We have a government that has drawn clear lines to say “your with us or against us”. Without any other option I have to say that I am in the latter. I am against any government that does not understand or uphold the principles of basic democracy. We have an opportunity to form a new government, to ensure that it will protect, not force, bully, lie to, steal from and generally institute a culture of fear over its citizens. I don’t know about you, but the time for apathy is far behind us.
Let’s do this boisterously, let’s be vocal, let’s make it a celebration.
Signs like this would be a great start.
Canadians, and that includes all Aurorans, do not need to appologize for freedom of speech, we certainly don’t need to live in fear of being sued for it.
Let’s all take Mr. Chill And The Witnesses’ advise and do not go quietly onto our gravesYou can listen to them here: http://www.myspace.com/mrchillampthewitnesses