4th Session, 41st Legislature
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THE PROTECTING COMMUNICATIONS ON PUBLIC INTEREST MATTERS ACT (COURT OF QUEEN'S BENCH ACT AND DEFAMATION ACT AMENDED)
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(Assented to )
HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:
THE COURT OF QUEEN'S BENCH ACT
The following is added after Part XII:
PROCEEDINGS ARISING FROM COMMUNICATIONS ON MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST
The following definitions apply in this Part.
"communication" means any communication, whether it is made verbally or non-verbally, whether it is made publicly or privately, and whether or not it is directed at a person or entity. (« communication »)
"tribunal" means a board, municipality, or one or more persons, exercising a power of decision conferred to them by or under an Act. (« tribunal administratif »)
A person against whom an action or application is brought may make a motion to a judge to dismiss the action or application on the ground that it arises from a communication by the person that relates to a matter of public interest.
A judge hearing the motion must order the action or application dismissed against the person if the judge is satisfied that it arises from a communication made by the person that relates to a matter of public interest, unless the respondent satisfies the judge that
(a) there are grounds to believe that
(i) the action or application has substantial merit, and
(ii) the moving party has no valid defence in the action or application; and
(b) the harm likely to be or have been suffered by the respondent as a result of the moving party's communication is sufficiently serious that the public interest in permitting the action or application to continue outweighs the public interest in protecting that communication.
Once a person has made a motion under this section, no party shall take any further steps in the action or application until the motion, including any appeal of the motion, has been finally resolved.
Unless a judge orders otherwise, the respondent to the motion may not amend their pleadings in the action or application
(a) to prevent or avoid an order under this section dismissing the action or application; or
(b) to continue the action or application if it is dismissed.
If a judge dismisses an action or application under this section, the moving party is entitled to costs on the motion, and in the action or application, on a full indemnity basis, unless the court determines that such an award is not appropriate in the circumstances.
If a judge does not dismiss an action or application under this section, the respondent to the motion is not entitled to costs on the motion, unless the court determines that such an award is appropriate in the circumstances.
If, in dismissing an action or application under this section, the judge finds that the respondent to the motion brought the action or application in bad faith or for an improper purpose, the judge may award the moving party such damages as the judge considers appropriate.
Subject to this Part, a motion to dismiss a proceeding under section 75.2 must be made in accordance with the rules and may be made at any time after the action or application has commenced.
A motion under section 75.2 must be heard within 60 days after the motion has been filed with the court.
The moving party must obtain a hearing date for the motion from the court before notice of the motion is served.
Subject to subsection (5), cross-examination on evidence filed by the parties must not exceed
(a) seven hours for all the plaintiffs in the proceeding; and
(b) seven hours for all the defendants in the proceeding.
A judge may extend the time for cross-examination on evidence filed in support or opposition of the motion if the judge is satisfied that the extension is in the interests of justice.
An appeal from an order under section 75.2 must be heard as soon as practicable.
If a respondent to a motion under section 75.2 has commenced an administrative proceeding before a tribunal that the moving party believes to relate to the same matter of public interest as the action or application in which the motion was filed,
(a) the moving party may file a copy of the notice of motion with the tribunal; and
(b) despite any other Act, on the filing of the notice of motion with the tribunal, the administrative proceeding is deemed to have been stayed by the tribunal.
The tribunal must give each party to the administrative proceeding notice of the stay and a copy of the notice of motion filed with the tribunal.
Subject to subsections (4) and (5), a stay of an administrative proceeding under subsection (1) remains in effect until the motion, including any appeal of the motion, has been finally disposed of.
A party to an administrative proceeding stayed under subsection (1) may make a motion to lift the stay. The motion must be made to
(a) a judge if the motion under section 75.2 has not yet been decided by a judge; or
(b) The Court of Appeal if the motion under section 75.2 has been decided by a judge and is under appeal.
On hearing a motion under subsection (4), a judge or The Court of Appeal, as the case may be, may lift the stay if the judge or court is satisfied that
(a) the stay is causing, or is likely to cause, undue hardship to a party to the administrative proceeding; or
(b) the administrative proceeding and the action or application in which the motion under section 75.2 was filed are not sufficiently related to warrant the stay.
THE DEFAMATION ACT
The Defamation Act is amended by adding the following after section 12:
Any qualified privilege that applies in respect of an oral or written communication of a matter of public interest between two or more persons who have a direct interest in the matter applies regardless of whether the communication is published or witnessed by any person.
TRANSITIONAL AND COMING INTO FORCE
This Act applies in respect of a communication that was made by a person before this Act comes into force, but only in respect of an action or proceeding commenced against that person after this Act comes into force.
This Act comes into force on the day it receives royal assent.