As indicated in the Vancouver Sun article dated 11 January 2022, Kennedy Stewart, the Vancouver Mayor, has applied to have a defamation claim against him dismissed under B.C.’s new, so-called anti-SLAPP legislation.
Since the anti-SLAPP legislation was introduced in 2019, the B.C. Supreme Court has only decided on a handful of these applications.
Although Douglas Eyford is not representing Kennedy Stewart in the Stewart-NPA suit, his involvement in defamation law and anti-SLAPP legislation has been significant. As stated by Douglas Eyford, the anti-SLAPP legislation seeks to “balance the oftentimes competing principles of freedom of expression and protection of reputation.”
With Stewart’s anti-SLAPP application, the initial onus will be on him to demonstrate the comments in question related to matters of public interest, Eyford said, adding: “Frankly, the NPA and Kennedy Stewart both swim in the waters of municipal politics, so that part of the test, to me, seems as though it could be very easily met.”
If Stewart can satisfy the court that the statements were on matters of public interest, “then there’s a shifting burden,” Eyford said, and the NPA plaintiffs would then have to demonstrate their claim has sufficient merit and shouldn’t be dismissed.