Voicing your opinion and taking part in the democratic process should not end up in getting sued. That’s what the Federation of Northern Municipalities is saying about a new bill. Bill 52, if passed, will protect the public from baseless lawsuits. However, FONOM says some changes need to be made. Among them, would be to have all public participation lawsuits reviewed before they are filed, so no one is forced to defend themselves against a suit with no grounds.

Among the changes FONOM are asking for are:

• Changing the legislation so legal action resulting from public participation would need to be reviewed by a judicial officer or other provincially appointed expert, prior to being filed to ensure that no one is forced to defend themselves against a baseless charge that amounts to a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) in the first place.

• If the legislation is to continue as currently designed, FONOM supports targeting the bill specifically to apply to volunteers and small community organizations with annual budgets of less than $100,000.