This week column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Changes unfairly target non-profits.

This week’s topic: Should proposed new rules be enacted allowing B.C. non-profit societies to be taken to court?

Make no mistake, the legislative changes to the Society Act proposed by the B.C. government are not about keeping registered societies accountable and transparent. The changes are yet another assault against the democratic rights of Canadians, and a sign the government has taken a lesson from the Stephen Harper playbook.

Contrary to my partner’s assertions, it’s not just environmental groups who are alarmed — I’ve been contacted by people from small community groups who advocate for good stewardship in city planning who are worried as well. If they speak out against irresponsible developments and municipal policy in favour of responsible and sustainable planning, would heavy-handed developers with deep pockets take them to court for “acting against the public’s interest?”

As with most onerous legislation, the devil is in the details, and how the proposed wording is interpreted and used by the courts in any litigation. How will the court determine who is an appropriate person to act in the public’s interest? How will the public’s interest be defined? And why is it even necessary to enact Section 99 in the first place, when there is nothing to prevent anyone from suing a society right now?

I’ve already heard from a party who is a member of a society that has been entrenched in litigation that appears to be a SLAPP suit — a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. SLAPP suits are an insult to everything Lady Justice stands for, and are increasingly being used to legally silence community groups, organizations and individuals who speak out.

Read Brent Stafford’s columnhere.

This kind of legislation signals the BC Liberals’ intention to encourage these kind of pesky lawsuits with motives that are anything but altruistic. The courts in this province are already so back-logged that people facing DUI charges have walked free because their right to a speedy trial has been infringed upon. Yet the same government that has over the years cut access to legal services, legal aid and other supports, is now enabling vexatious actions that waste the court’s time…


Read the rest of this weeks column, vote and comment at

And in case you missed it, head to the main page and scroll down to read about the Little Pop-up Soup Kitchen that could!

10 thoughts on “This week column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Changes unfairly target non-profits.

  1. Right on the Money Laila. This change to the Act will open the barn doors to greater erosion of citizen rights. Who is to decide “what is in the best interest of the public”? Oh wait, a poll.


  2. Once again, I disagree. NOT with your conclusion about the bastards and their intentions – that part seems obvious enough – but what the result will be. Firstly the bureaucrats are not all Lt. Calleys. They simply will not obey every order. These ‘crats have largely sold out but they know career ending actions when they see ’em. And the courts are still neutral in this country (although corrupted by cost).
    A minister will make an instruction to ‘punish’ a society to an ADM/DM and then they will be stonewalled by the ‘crats and a lot of petty retribution aimed at societies will end there. IF it goes further, the courts will filter out even more of it. The legislation poses little threat in my opinion. BUT IT DOES provide an ‘idea’. We have to sue them! ALL THE !#%$*:!’ing time. All day, every day.
    The NDP do precious little. Nada. To be fair, opposition is impotent in our system but this opposition seems to have accepted that like cattle accept slaughter and they simply collect their wages to bide their time while awaiting their ‘turn’. Stupid. They should take a page from their labour buddies and picket the legislature. Show the people they are doing something! But now they can do even more. They should sue!
    NOW they should be suing Crown Corporations like BCF for damage to the economy (proven by the recent report to the UBCM). Suing Hydro for mismanaging the resource. Suing the Ministry of well, all of them. LY has 100 prime lawsuits already from Basi Virk to neglect of the poor. We should sue Campbell for tearing up signed HEU contracts (yes, I just went to the list again).
    Bottom line: somebody has to do something. Don’t whine. Don’t complain. Just DO something!
    When government goes bad (and it almost always does) some people run, some people die and some people revolt. Which one are you? .


  3. Section 99, which is a new proposal to the Society Act, is a tried and true method used to silence the public with the use of fear mongering. The ‘fear of getting sued’ which people don’t want and can’t afford is a relatively inexpensive and effective method to shut up the public. This tactic is being used by both the provincial and federal governments. Governments are not interested in listening to the public bitch and complain about what they (the governments) are doing, or are planning to do. Governments do not view the general public as ‘interested parties’, sometimes referred to as ’stake-holders’ to the decision-making power of governments. Governments cannot argue effectively against the importance of protecting the environment, livelihood, and sustenance such as food and clean water; so they have to find a different way to accomplish their goals.

    Citizens and the general public cannot claim they have rights if they have not invested money in a project or decision; they are not at risk of a financial or influential loss by objecting to a project or law under the order of corporate globalization. With the advent of the internet, information now travels faster and reaches more people than ever before, and the public is sticking its collective nose into numerous issues which were not easily influenced by them previously. This means the public is becoming harder to control or influence. Having not yet come to the realization that there is no democracy and never has been, the public is determined to have a say, an influence, and the final decision-making authority in controversial issues particularly where their very existence is being threatened.

    Governments, not willing to admit there is no democracy – it’s all a show propped up by propaganda – must now move to limit the public’s objections to a myriad of governments’ well-laid plans and projects. The corporate global body remands it, and they have it within their power to sue provincial and federal governments for losses they may suffer. This really means they have the ability to extract even more from taxpayers to fill their need, or more accurately, their greed.

    The solution is to take away their authority to wreck this province and the country. If there is ever to be democracy, it is the people who must control the politicians and the governments.

    Stand up to change. Change the system of government from representative democracy which represents the global corporate body to a system of Direct Democracy with rules and penalties to control politicians and governments within the jurisdiction of the province of BC.

    BC has the makings of such a government. *** Thanks for the comment, but I don’t like advertising for any political party on my site. 🙂



    1. “Citizens and the general public cannot claim they have rights if they have not invested money in a project or decision; they are not at risk of a financial or influential loss by objecting to a project or law under the order of corporate globalization.”
      Legally that is NOT true but I admit that it has increasingly come to look that way. And the reason for that is the increasing monetization of everything. After awhile – if everything is monetized – then money is the only metric. In law, it is called quantum but it is used as the measure for loss of life, limb, reputation, unrequited love and just-about-everything. And that is just plain wrong. So, “under the order of corporate globalization”, you have a point. But, technically, in law, you do not.
      In law, there is such a thing as the common good and it is up to us to define it in non-monetary terms in front of the courts. It has been done before. We have just all focused on money so much that the common denominator is the dollar. We have to re-establish the common good as the REAL common denominator.


  4. this is the Canadian version of censorship. In Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Nigeria, etc. they come and arrest you or just kill you. In Canada that doesn’t work so well. There will be objections, but subjecting non profits to federal audits and now this change in B.C. all accomplishes the same thing. It shuts up organized dissent. That is the aim. That is the goal. It is working federally, except for those organizations which can bring in money from overseas to conduct advocacy work. Nice. who would have thought even 10 yrs ago Oxfam would have to bring in money from other countries to enjoy freedom of speech.

    Premier “air miles”, clark is just helping P.M. “lets go to war and kill people”, harper along in an effort to silence organized Canadians. So just when you think that is o.k. wait until they aim it all on you, individually. That will come next, make no mistake about it. Remember if “air miles” and “lets go to war and kill” had proposed any of this 20 yrs ago, they would have been run off by their own parties.


  5. Please! Stop complaining about how things are being done. We have to act to change how we govern OURSELVES. Let’s build a Direct Democracy system of government and stop all this harmful rule.


    1. Right on! We DO have to act! And not JUST that pussy-footing crap about marches and placards either. No more Kumbaya. At the very least we should be flooding the government with letters of outrage. Secondly, we should be demanding the opposition ‘step up’. DEMAND they step up. Thirdly, we have to mobilize the anti-totalitarian vote and demand of our neighbours they participate in this thing we call democracy (poor as it is). No more apathy in voting. And, finally, we have to actually spend money to oppose those Nazi-like bastards rather than hoard it for our cable payments or beer. Seriously. We have to spend some of our own money to make this stop and we have to ask others to do the same and to get their heads out of their……dark space.
      That may mean filing lawsuits against the government. Filing charges with the RCMP. Amateur investigative reporting. Whistle-blowing when you KNOW they are doing something wrong. Boycotts (vote with your dollars). And we have to talk it up. Public servants have it the hardest – they have to grow a spine! Lawyers have it the second hardest – they have to go to the scruples and morals file long dead-filed in their basements. These people have to lead the fight in the courts. For Free! And we have to find a voice. We found Laila. We found Elizabeth. We found Andrew. We found Neil Young. And there are many, many, many more.


  6. “… [F]looding the government with letters …” We have done that, and things are getting worse. “… demanding the opposition ‘step up'” We have elected one opposition after another, and things are getting worse. The last election saw the ‘opposition’ refusing to make a clear statement that would define what we could expect of them. “… and demand of our neighbours they participate in this think we call democracy …” which it isn’t. How would it help to have two, three, or ten times as many people vote for two or three hand-picked parties all supported by big corporations and big unions? Each party never willing to overturn another’s bad legislation. We have spent plenty of money; we have taken MPs to court and lost. Our money can never match the donations from big corporations and big unions.

    In case you are unaware, MLAs and MPs are protected by parliamentary privilege. There is no law that requires them to take orders from the people; several courts have ruled this to be fact. The people you believe will lead the fight in the courts are been part of the problem all along. What would happen if we fight the fight for ourselves? And nothing is free! Who do you think pays the public servants, the lawyers, and the courts? Free? You must be joking! None of the people you have found are offering any solutions. Laila brings many otherwise undiscovered issues to public view, which gives people more to be unhappy about, but even she does not offer solutions that haven’t already been tried for over one hundred years. None of the others you mention have even done that . And you want more, ” … many, many, many more.” Tell me: What will that change?


  7. “The changes are yet another assault against the democratic rights of Canadians, and a sign the government has taken a lesson from the Stephen Harper playbook.”

    Don’t they have to follow Stevies playbook, being on the same team and all, in spite of the fact they don’t share the same party name. The BC Liars ain’t real liberals and Stevie the Evil one isn’t even remotely “conservative.” Being a radical fascistic A**hole is not at all conservative!


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