(Ottawa) MiningWatch Canada was pleased to learn of the Superior Court of Quebec's recent rejection of a suit considered to be a strategic lawsuit against pulbic participation (SLAPP), filed against Ugo Lapointe of the Coalition Québec meilleure mine. Petrolia, a natural gas exploration company, had charged Lapointe with defaming it in comments made to a journalist and quoted in the Quebec newspaper Le Soleil. The company was seeking $350,000 in damages. Lapointe and his supporters, including MiningWatch, had maintained that the comments were a criticism of Quebec's mineral extraction laws, not the individual company.
SLAPP suits are used by some corporations to intimidate and punish critical voices. Tying up critics in court challenges taps their resources and means others may think twice about speaking out. Fortunately, Quebec has an anti-SLAPP law that helped have this case thrown out after only one hearing.
The judge agreed that the comments were general and not directed at Petrolia. She noted the importance of the public participation and free speach of citizens like Mr. Lapointe around important public issues, such as the management of Quebec's mineral and gas resources.
Mr. Lapointe has been an important voice on policy issues in Quebec providing critical and constructive commentary on the mining and gas sectors. Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch commented, "We share Ugo's relief that the burden of a SLAPP suit has been lifted and that he has been vindicated by the court."
Contact: Ramsey Hart (613) 569-3439