“Christy Clark would do well to remember that Canada is a free nation…”

Late last week I was contacted by a new member of a local community association here in Surrey, who expressed great concern over this Tyee blog post: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2014/09/29/Non-Profit-Attack-Petition/

Her concern of course,is that the potential for these proposed changes to be used to silence any group expressing concerns or opposition to, well, anything,  is very real.

In the nick of time, Sandy Garossino has posted excellent commentary that really gets to the ominous heart of the matter:

“B.C.’s Christy Clark government is proposing to overhaul the Societies Act, and they’ve distributed a snoozer of a White Paper to let you know all about it.

If you’ve dozed off already, WAKE UP, because there’s a massive zinger quietly planted deep inside. You can do something about it — more on that at the end of this post. But unmentioned in any preamble or executive summary, Section 99 allows any person (including corporations) to take any registered society to court that they believe is acting contrary to the public interest — whatever that is.

Here it is:

Complaints by public

99 (1) A person whom the court considers to be an appropriate person to make an
application under this section may apply to the court for an order under this
section on the grounds that a society

(b) is carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.

In other words, environmental non-profit groups better watch their step because they’re in the cross-hairs. Premier Clark is handing the legal hammer to Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, ExxonMobil, Koch, Encana, Chevron, Sinopec, Suncor and the entire B.C. LNG sector to tie non-profits up in court for years.

Section 99 looks like Clark’s close advisor Gwyn Morgan drafted it up during half-time at last year’s Grey Cup. Not a single competent lawyer within the Ministry of Justice could say with a straight face that it’s constitutional. The clear intent is to silence and intimidate Canadian conservation and environmental non-profits with the threat of litigation. And if mere threat doesn’t work, this legislation enables the corporate sector to bludgeon them into lawsuit bankruptcy.

This proposal is one of the most ill-conceived and draconian initiatives to see the light of day in a modern democracy, and reveals the extent of Clark’s captivity by the oil and gas lobby. (And one more reason B.C. political leaders should be prevented from funding their election campaigns at the Petroleum Club in Calgary).

But as policy, it’s also breathtakingly stupid. As if B.C. doesn’t already have the mother of all court backlogs to cope with, the Clark government now proposes to fill up the system with disgruntled parents taking out their beefs in court against a minor hockey association or local elementary school PAC (parent advisory council). It will be open season on abortion clinics, LGBTQ organizations, and mosques. Don’t think for a minute that won’t happen.

The real backdrop, of course, is that the Harper government has been on a tear against environmentalists for years, muzzling our scientists and attempting to discredit Canadian environmental NGOs…”

Read the rest of this post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sandy-garossino/bc-societies-act-christy-clark_b_5973568.html

Then fire off your email comments on what you think of this draconian proposal right away, because the public consultation period on this ends Wednesday October 15th. Yes, that’s right,it’s been open for comment since August.

Here is the link:  http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/pld/fcsp/society_act_discussion.htm

Wake up and smell the coffee my friends.

** and if you still have the stomach for it after that, Sean Holman has an excellent read to follow up with this morning. http://seanholman.com/2014/10/13/scientists-arent-the-only-ones-silenced/

31 thoughts on ““Christy Clark would do well to remember that Canada is a free nation…”

  1. Scotty on Denman

    Can anyone take Christy’s government to task for working against the public interest?—I mean, on the surface of it, it looks like there are lots of undeniably blatant examples: IPPs come to mind. How is it possible to not include this as working against the public interest? IPPs are parasites plain and simple, they hurt a public interest, BC Hydro.

    By gosh! I believe there are many more!

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  2. The directors of the Residents and Ratepayers of Central Saanich (RROCS) of which I am one have been sued and pursued endlessly over the past few years costing us over $100,000 (at least) for trying to protect farmland and the busting up of our Urban Containment Boundary and our Official Community Plan. Other similar organizations in Central Saanich were also sued during this time. We were trying to stop the Peninsula Co-op from building a new grocery store on farmable land outside the Urban Containment boundary of our Official Community Plan. An wealthy individual from the Co-op board has been suing us for defamation. The lawyers who took us on at low cost (still very high to us) took the case(s) because they thought it was amusing that someone would sue folks who made him look good and even noble through a prank media release relinquishing the plan to build the store. This release was not from RROCSS or even done with the directors knowledge and approval. It’s quite the story and every time we think it’s done he manages to extend the fight.http://www.rrocss.org/ It has been a 30 year battle intensifying greatly in the past 5 years; it involved smearing citizens running for office, undue election influence by the Co-op etc. Luckily the Co-op seems to be gradually changing, the gentleman in question is no longer on the Board, but when the legal pursuit will truly end we do not know.

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  3. An excerpt from RROCSS website. “On Friday, April 14, a front page story in the Times Colonist stated that the Residents and Ratepayers of Central Saanich Society was being sued by the Peninsula Co Op for “identity fraud, forgery, mischief, conspiracy, lying and trespassing .”

    As president of the Society, I feel that I have to comment on the story. First, there is no truth whatsoever in the allegations made in the lawsuit that RRoCSS was involved or had knowledge of the hoax. At no time before the hoax which is the basis of the lawsuit prepetrated, during any meeting of the Society, either a general or board meeting, was the hoax discussed, nor did any member of the Society ever mention such a hoax to me before it occurred. The Society had no part in the hoax whatsoever.

    Secondly, I consider this to be SLAPP suit: an attempt to silence reasonable debate about the Co Op plan to use perfectly good farm land for an unnecessary supermarket. It’s contrary to the Central Saanich Community Plan, and RRoCSS has been fighting it, and will continue to do so, in spite of this attempt to muzzle our voice.”

    Ian Cameron, President

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    1. shhhh

      As I recall, in one of the Judge’s comments, he said the lawsuit was “not in the public’s interest”. I am one of those residents in CSaanich and certainly was interested in justice. It was not served. It chilled a righteous dissent and cost people much money for daring to challenge ‘business as usual’ in Central Saanich. I can’t wait to move away from this urban sprawl crawl financed by fed/prov/muni who care nothing about the environment, citizen input, fair taxation, green investments nor democracy.

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    2. e.a.f.

      Thank you Mr. Cameron. If not for individuals and society’s such as yours much more of B.C. would be paved over. With the increasing drought in the U.S.A. we need all the farmable land we can get. We still have rain.

      Using SLAPP suits is like the scatter gun approach, fire and see what gets hit and sticks. In the meantime a lot of that other buckshot just injures those around. NOt very socially responsible. It wastes the time of the courts and money, which is in short supply. Even the co-op is wasting the money which in fact belongs to their members. Almost wants one to take out a membership in the co-op to try to overturn the board of directors.

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  4. Julie

    It is more than obvious Harper works for the oil, gas, mine barons and the wealthy. Whenever the wealthy barons line up at the trough and squeal for more money? Harper gives them another, $60 billion in tax reductions. Harper takes from us, to give to them.

    There is absolutely no way Christy is running this province? That is laughable. The Campbell/Clark BC Liberals work for Harper and all of them work for the 1%. We saw this coming years ago, during Campbell’s reign of terror.

    We really don’t know how much of Canada, Harper has sold to Communist China?

    The opposition has done what? The opposition in BC has done what?

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  5. workforfun

    It really comes as no surprise that eventually something like this would happen. I have no doubt that this is probably orchestrated form Ottawa – where they are adamant that the NGP and KM pipelines get built – along with the LNG terminals.
    The federal government has already enacted their assault on charity organizations that do not agree with the government ideology and have labelled those who disagree as environmental radicals or extremists. Now with the middle east conflict getting worse, there is no doubt Harper will extend his authoritarianism to that of a sitting dictator or more realistically DICK -tator:-).

    All the more reason that people get off of their duffs and go out and vote in the 2015 federal elections. Hopefully the PC can be totally wiped out as they are messing with everything and now want to be free to use any and all comments media make, against the opposition. Just maybe the media won’t run the government ads – wouldn’t that just be poetic justice. Run ads for the opposition but not the federal government !!!! We can only hope I guess.

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  6. While I despise CC and the Libs, Harper and the Cons and the system as it is generally run AGAINST the people it was intended to serve, I am a bit ambivalent over this one. NOT that this bill/whitepaper is needed. It isn’t. Thus it deserves HUGE scrutiny to observe WHY they are doing it. But take some comfort because their own disclaimer is valid. The courts rule on this stuff, not the government. The whitepaper is stupid, ugly and leaning towards a threat – but it isn’t one yet.
    I know, I know, it ‘opens the litigation floodgates’. But anyone can sue anyone for anything at anytime. It has always been thus. The courts MAY throw it out at the filing stage or may hear it and then throw it out or find some credibility…whatever….the point is: the courts do decide. NOT Clark. NOT Harper.
    And this fear of litigation we all seem to have is stupid! None of us are really afraid of free, non-partisan, logical and fair judgment. Healthy people will accept an impartial judgment from a trusted neutral 99.99% of the time. WHAT we ARE afraid of is legal bills and a confusing process that we DO NOT trust. So, the answer is: defend yourself! We don’t need no stinkin’ lawyers!
    If I was sued because I was standing in front of an oil refinery protesting a climate issue, I would simply stand before the judge and state that I was simply protesting and nothing more and that protesting is free speech as enshrined in our Canadian Rights. Even a corrupted judge would have trouble throwing me in jail for that.
    Remember: anyone can sue anyone for anything at anytime. It is just part of the landscape in our society.

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    1. shhhh

      “… fear of litigation we all seem to have is stupid!” JDC, there are many in courtrooms right now “defending” themselves & losing – no $ for lawyers. When we hit the bricks and stand in front of power, protesting the oil&gas regime, what will you do when confronted by military/police/spray, etc? That is what is coming, if you watched G20 etc. You won’t be happy and it isn’t easy ‘standing’ there nor in court.
      “anyone can sue anyone for anything anytime” ? No, not true. But if you have lots of money, you can figure out a way, for sure. And if it isn’t your own money, but taxpayers who must pay, wow – bonus.
      With the current fed/prov gov’ts, beware the small print in everything – FOI req’d – and demand transparency in order to assess your ‘superiors’.

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      1. I disagree (of course…it is in my nature). But I can sue you for sexual harassment. Or breach of contract or make a liability claim in tort law. I doubt that the filing clerk would even accept the papers and, given that I don’t even know your name, I would have trouble filling them out. But a lawsuit, in itself, is nothing more than a challenge and one the court has to decide is worth hearing. Of course, plenty of people defend themselves and lose. But guess what….in every case with lawyers, one of THEM loses, too. Litigating is about winning and losing for the parties but it is really NOT about the parties at all. Litigation is about building the body of common law. Plaintiffs and defendants willingly (although they don’t know this because they don’t bother to learn) throw themselves up as fodder for the benefit of building common law. If you really wanted justice and did NOT want to sacrifice your wallet in the process (or your life because it takes so long) you would opt for arbitration. Actually, if you were smart, you’d opt for mediation first and THEN arbitration if you couldn’t get agreement. BOTH of those processes are quicker, cheaper and usually more fair. Admittedly, you do not really have that option in criminal law (because your opponent is the Crown and they are loaded to the gills with lawyers) and, in that situation, your having a lawyer is a necessary evil.

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    2. e.a.f.

      you won’t be thrown in jail yet. Canada still has decent judges. In the U.S.A. where many are elected, or appointed for life, you get tossed in jail, regardless. In Alabama a blogger was sued by the 1% elite for libel/slander. His garage was invaded, he was beaten, maced and put in jail for 5 months, all without a warrant. He was the only journalist in the Northern Hemisphere/Western World to be jailed in their own country for simply doing the job of a journalist. You can hire a “private judge” in Alabama.

      What is being attempted here, now is simply a trial run. The cons, such as harper and his herd have looked south of the border for “expertise”. Every once in awhile we are hearing harper and/or his herd talk about “gun rights”. Never had that when I was a kid. But the NRA came to Canada and now we have our own version.

      Harper awarded the contract for our cenus, hard/soft ware to Lougheed Martin, Now that’s a nice company if you ever met one. some suggest great friends with the CIA, those GUYS who brought you fast and furious. So when ever you see these little “trial” ballons going up from Christy and her cabal, it won’t be long.

      As one author, Gutstein, wrote, if harper and his herd, ran on their current platform, against Mulroney, the Progressive Cons. would have tossed them out on their ear. Twenty years later, their song and dance is main street and he’s been elected, how many times.

      back in the 1970s big business got worried about the rise of the working/student class. They had a report commissioned on how to deal with it. That little document is the blue print for what we saw happen in AMerica. Canada is just a few years behind.

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      1. Gun rights. I own firearms. Yet, why is it that I am frightened when I hear of laws that would eliminate dissent? Maybe because a hysterical dwarf named Adolf Hitler tried this tact before. If you truly want the government to “back off” inviting this type of legislation is bad news.

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  7. Mogs

    Well Laila we can use that particular section to our advantage see here: “Complaints by public

    99 (1) A person whom the court considers to be an appropriate person to make an
    application under this section may apply to the court for an order under this
    section on the grounds that a society

    (b) is carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.” —>as it stands the federal con government and the provincial lib governments are both ‘carrying on activities that are in detriment to the public interest’

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    1. e.a.f.

      Yes, they lieberals would not have seen this as a threat to them. Most people can’t afford to go to court in B.C. Its about $40K to get in the door, unlike in Alberta where its approx. $800. All the B.C. Lieberals would have to do is raise the costs of going to court and we would all be finished. Court works well for those who can afford it.

      Its the judge who determines what is “detrimental to the public interest” but there is no definition yet of what comprises the public interest. In there you find your can of worms.

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  8. Norm

    There is even more of a problem here than just allowing corporations et al to sue societies if they feel the society is not “carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.” as dangerous as that is it is also on a slippery slope of allowing corporations to sue individuals if the corporation deems the person is not acting in the the public interest. Soon the thought police may be knocking on our doors for even posting a comment such as this

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  9. e.a.f.

    well never to be out done in this dept., the federal government, hello stevie et al. Revenue Canada and their trusty audit team have a new “victim” in their sights. Apparently a society of bird watcher numbering 300, in Ontario, have been sent that famous letter about doing too much advocacy work and they will be up for audit. Will these people stop at nothing. Have they no shame. Bird watcher are now under attack by harper and his herd. First it was the think tanks which disagreed, then the environmental groups, the United Church, the Mennonite church, Oxfam avoided it because they bring in money from other countries to do advocacy work. Oh, let us not forget that writers group Attwood belongs to. Now harper and his herd of cons are going after a group of bird watchers. Perhaps when Christy and her b.c. lieberals implement their new “censorship” laws they go after bloggers

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  10. Jay Jones

    I see Horgan having little to no difficulty at all defeating the Libs, and soon thereafter having BC back to its world-class ways. So this is the most pumped I’ve been about BC’s future for more than a decade.

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    1. Laila

      There is a long ways to go before the next election and much can be done to the detriment of the province in that time- the opposition does not have a spotless record either.There have been quite a few issues that they have remained silent on or are in agreement with the liberals on. Regardless of that I believe Clark will run the province into the ground if she remained in office, and the NDP or BC Conservatives will still have to work very very hard to beat the Liberal election machine.

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  11. Laila, thank you for your comment here. You along with others (I think of Norm Farrell, Bob Mackin, Alex Tsakumis and Jesse Ventura) give people hope. i want you to know that your activism has propelled me into the belief that next election I will run as councilllor for our little municipality. I am tired of seeing Snookie and her minions use us for her own means and witnessing the many politicians following her example. It makes me sick. I will not pretend I even have a chance, but maybe, ust maybe by using the example of you fine folk I might make a difference.

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  12. John J. Richards

    “Those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it”. Gordon Campbell got the ball rolling on this kind of Draconian autocracy, when he first came to power over a decade ago. He began an egregious assault against the working people of this province when he attacked BCGEU, HEU, and the BCTF. The final Supreme Court ruling on the BCTF issues with the Liberal government, substantiate the accusations that the government of British Columbia has continually embarked on a confrontational approach to conflict resolution of any kind in their dealings with organized labour. And now they are attempting to do the same with free speech in this province. I have more respect for organized crime, than I do for our current system of government! You can trust a thief, because you can see what they’ve taken. But you can never trust a liar. Criminals actually have more authenticity than our politicians, most of whom attempt to hide behind a smokescreen of custom tailored legislation to facilitate their agenda. This current government is now engaging in the wholesale ‘abuse of power’, of the worst order. It is a blatant threat to the constitutional right to freedom of expression everywhere. Christy Clark’s stickhandling of this issue is a disgrace to the very concept of democracy, and she should resign from her post immediately. This is not the kind of leadership I anticipated, nor voted for!! I’m almost certain that Mr. Harper will have yet another plumb political appointment waiting for Ms. Clark, if the heat from this latest debacle becomes too much for her to bear. Much like her deceitful predecessor, following the HST fiasco. The entire issue is disgusting to say the least. I firmly believe that it is exactly this kind of inapproriate conduct from our elected politicians, which is contributory to the increased voter apathy in our country today.

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  13. Gwyn Morgan is the classic rich people’s stooge.
    An uppity engineer, promoted to take EnCana public (for rich shareholders).
    Like most who reach the top of major corporations, he was well rewarded & now acts as the major puppet-master in BC; first with Campbell & now Clark.

    Like

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