Date published: Thursday, October 1, 2015
The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) presented to the Ontario Standing Committee on Justice Policy at Queen’s Park today to request Bill 52, Protection of Public Participation Act be amended. FONOM is requesting two recommendations to the legislation to support Northern Ontario industries.
FONOM believes that Bill 52 will negatively impact Northern livelihoods if it moves forward as it is currently written. While FONOM supports the principle that legitimate expression should not be subject to intimidation, the reality in the North is that Bill 52 will give multi-national groups with deep pockets the ability to use misinformation to target and threaten industries that communities depend on. There is a need to ensure a greater balance of interests within the legislation that takes regional impacts into consideration.
The FONOM recommendations include ensuring that legal action resulting from public participation would need to be reviewed by a judicial officer or other provincially appointed expert prior to being filed and to target the bill specifically to protect volunteers and small community organizations with annual budgets of less than $100,000.
Facing continued attacks from environmental groups, forestry companies will be unable to protect their reputations and stand up to those that are spreading misinformation about their operations unless the legislation is amended. Furthermore, the legislation would create an unattractive business climate which will discourage investment and growth into the sector and the province as a whole.
“It is imperative that Bill 52 take a balanced approach and that it not prefer the interests of parties engaging in defamation to victims seeking to protect their reputations,” says Mayor Alan Spacek of Kapuskasing and President of FONOM. “Ensuring that Northern industries are able to operate for years to come without the threat of misguided groups attacking their reputations and targeting their customers is vital to the Northern Ontario economy and must be addressed within this Bill.”
For More Information:
Mayor Alan Spacek
President of FONOM