5th Session, 42nd Legislature
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THE PUBLIC EXPRESSION PROTECTION ACT
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(Assented to )
HIS MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:
DEFINITIONS AND APPLICATION
1(1) The following definitions apply in this Act.
"administrative proceeding" means a proceeding before a tribunal. (« instance administrative »)
"expression" means any communication, regardless of 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 an entity. (« expression »)
"moving party" means a person who makes a motion under section 3. (« auteur de la motion »)
"responding party" means a person against whom a motion is made under section 3. (« partie intimée »)
"tribunal" means a body established or an individual appointed by or under an Act to decide matters in accordance with the authority given under that Act, but does not include
(a) a judicial justice of the peace appointed under The Provincial Court Act;
(b) the Provincial Court or a judge of that court;
(c) the Court of King's Bench or a judge or master of that court; or
(d) the Court of Appeal or a judge of that court. (« tribunal administratif »)
1(2) In this Act, ""civil proceeding" or "proceeding"", "judge", "motion" and "order" have the same meaning as in section 1 of The Court of King's Bench Act.
2 This Act applies in respect of a proceeding commenced after June 30, 2023.
ORDER TO DISMISS
3(1) On motion by a person against whom a proceeding is brought, a judge must, subject to subsection (2), order the proceeding dismissed if the judge is satisfied that
(a) the proceeding arises from an expression made by the person; and
(b) the expression relates to a matter of public interest.
3(2) The judge must not dismiss a proceeding under subsection (1) if the responding party satisfies the judge that
(a) there are grounds to believe that
(i) the proceeding has substantial merit, and
(ii) the moving party has no valid defence in the proceeding; and
(b) the harm likely to have been or to be suffered by the responding party as a result of the moving party's expression is sufficiently serious that the public interest in permitting the proceeding to continue outweighs the public interest in protecting the expression.
3(3) For the purpose of clause (2)(b), the harm likely to have been or to be suffered by the responding party as a result of the expression must include
(a) harm to the reputation of the responding party; and
(b) financial loss that is more than nominal.
4(1) Once a person has made a motion under section 3, no further steps shall be taken in the proceeding by any party until the motion, including any appeal of the motion, has been finally resolved.
4(2) Unless a judge orders otherwise, the responding party must not amend their pleadings in the proceeding in order to
(a) prevent or avoid an order under section 3 dismissing the proceeding; or
(b) continue the proceeding if the proceeding is dismissed under section 3.
5(1) If a judge dismisses a proceeding under section 3, the moving party is entitled to costs on the motion and in the proceeding on a solicitor and client basis unless the judge determines that such an award is not appropriate in the circumstances.
5(2) If a judge does not dismiss a proceeding under section 3, the responding party is not entitled to costs on the motion unless the judge determines that such an award is appropriate in the circumstances.
5(3) If, in dismissing a proceeding under this section, the judge finds that the responding party brought the proceedings in bad faith or for an improper purpose, the judge may award the moving party such damages as the judge considers appropriate.
6(1) Subject to this Act, a motion to dismiss a proceeding under section 3 must be made in accordance with the Court of King's Bench Rules and may be made at any time after the proceeding has commenced.
6(2) A motion under section 3 must be heard no later than 60 days after notice of the motion is filed with the court.
6(3) The moving party must obtain a hearing date for the motion from the court before notice of the motion is served.
6(4) Subject to subsection (5), cross-examination on any documentary evidence filed by the parties must not exceed a total of seven hours for all plaintiffs in the proceeding and seven hours for all defendants.
6(5) A judge may extend the time permitted for cross-examination on documentary evidence if it is necessary to do so in the interests of justice.
7 An appeal of an order under section 3 must be heard as soon as practicable.
RELATED TRIBUNAL PROCEEDINGS
8(1) If a responding party has commenced an administrative proceeding that the moving party believes relates to the same matter of public interest as the proceeding in which the motion was filed under section 3,
(a) the moving party may file a copy of the notice of motion with the tribunal; and
(b) despite any other Act, the filing of the notice of motion with the tribunal operates as a stay of the administrative proceeding.
8(2) 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.
8(3) 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.
8(4) 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 3 has not yet been decided by a judge; or
(b) the Court of Appeal if the motion under section 3 has been decided by a judge and is under appeal.
8(5) 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 of either of the following:
(a) the stay is causing or is likely to cause undue hardship to a party to the administrative proceeding;
(b) the administrative proceeding is not sufficiently related to the proceeding in which the motion under section 3 was brought to justify the stay.
9 The remedies under this Act are in addition to any other right or remedy that may otherwise be available to the moving party or the responding party.
10 If an oral or written communication on a matter of public interest between persons who have a direct interest in the matter has qualified privilege, that communication has qualified privilege regardless of whether the communication is witnessed or published by media representatives or other persons.
11 This Act may be referred to as chapter P200 of the Continuing Consolidation of the Statutes of Manitoba.
12 This Act comes into force on the day it receives royal assent.