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NOMA does not support Bill 83 Freedom to Slander

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THUNDER BAY, ON   ----- March 16, 2014  ---- The Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA), the Federation of Northern Ontario NOMA Municipalities (FONOM), and the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA) are concerned about Bill 83, Protection of Public Participation Act, 2014 and its potential impacts to Ontario’s sustainable forestry sector, which employs 150,000 people in this province. The sector has overcome enormous challenges and now in 2014 is showing positive signs of rebound. This is not the time to allow radical special interest groups a shield to hide behind as they spread false information about the job creators in Ontario.

Ontario Nature released an action alert entitled -Your Right to Speak up for a Healthy Environment is in Jeopardy. Ontario Nature and others are fear mongering – they are creating a crisis where none exists. According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario is a world leader in sustainable forestry and is committed to balancing environmental protection with sustainable forest management.

David Canfield, Mayor of Kenora and President of NOMA stated, “There is no clear evidence that legitimate expression is being impaired in this province. Our current justice system provides ample protection to individuals expressing legitimate freedom of speech as well as to individuals and companies who rely on the law to protect their reputations against slander.”

A recent Supreme Court ruling proves that lawsuits cannot be used to suppress legitimate expressions. There is no need for Bill 83. There is however, evidence of Greenpeace previously misleading the public and making false claims against a forestry company operating in Ontario. It is not surprising that Greenpeace also strongly supports this bill.

Alan Spacek, Mayor of Kapuskasing and President of FONOM said, “We believe that this legislation will create a climate in which radical activist groups can make false claims about a range of industries on which our communities depend upon, while enjoying protection from any legal opposition.”

Jamie Lim, President and CEO of the OFIA commented, “The OFIA will always support freedom of speech. We do not, however, support freedom to slander with no accountability. Forestry, a renewable resource, is an important aspect of Northern and rural Ontario and we must stand up to protect green jobs. Bill 83 threatens the livelihood of hardworking Ontarians.”

If you care about healthy communities and Ontario’s economy, here is your call to action. The most effective action you could take would be to phone or write to your MPP to let them know that this issue matters to you. 

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