Is Activa Holdings the NationMaster of Canada?

Ontario mom faces $2M libel suit for website about problems in neighbourhood,” by Mike Oliveira, CP, 13 November 2005, http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2005/11/13/1305275-cp.html (from Slashdot).

I recently had a run-in with the unethical company known as NationMaster, so I was interested in this case:

Louisette Lanteigne of Waterloo, Ont., said she grew sick of what she saw during construction in her new subdivision and what appeared to be questionable building practices and labour-code violations.

She said she was constantly keeping her kids and their friends out of trouble, as they would keep running into hazards around their neighbourhood. She petitioned city council and got help but new problems would appear as quickly as the old ones got fixed, she said.

She launched her website in April to document her complaints and as a means for the province’s Environment and Labour ministries to view the evidence she collected. She made about a dozen postings with photos and stories of sightings around her area.

Her efforts led to letters and kudos from various government officials for reporting alleged violations. Then-environment minister Leona Dombrowsky wrote her to say, “Your advocacy on behalf of your neighbourhood is commendable and I encourage you to contact the ministry . . .to report any further incidents.”

Environment Ministry spokesman John Steele said work by people like Lanteigne is of great value because there aren’t enough ministry workers available to spot every infraction.

“Obviously we can’t have staff everywhere all the time, so we depend on the public out there as surrogate eyes and ears for the ministry,” Steele said. “They’re an important part of the ministry’s work.”

But not everyone was happy with her reports.

On Sept. 16, Lanteigne received news that she was being sued for libel by developer Activa Holdings Inc., one of the largest developers in the region.

The statement of claim said “the malicious, high-handed and arrogant conduct of the Defendant warrants an award of punitive or exemplary damages to ensure that the Defendant is appropriately punished for her conduct and deterred from such conduct in the future.”

The company sought $2 million and an order to have the allegedly libellous material taken offline.

Remind you of anyone? , perhaps?

It definitely sounds like Activa Holdings is the NationMaster of Canada!

If there’s anything good about the news, it will popularize

The legislation is typically called anti-SLAPP, an acronym for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.

The laws reduce the risk of fighting lawsuits because if the plaintiff loses, they are responsible for all the legal fees. In Lanteigne’s case, she will have to pay her lawyer regardless of the outcome.

“Typically with David-Goliath-type situations where a citizen is faced with large legal costs and aggressive litigious companies, it takes a lot of courage to persevere,” said Rick Smith, executive director for advocacy organization Environmental Defence Canada.

Because this seems to be so widespread, I am modifying NationMaster Watch to include more anti-SLAPP resources.

2 thoughts on “Is Activa Holdings the NationMaster of Canada?”

  1. Hi:
    Yes I have a question not a comment. It is how do I find her website? I would like to see that first and then maybee make a comment. Thank you John. PS. I do not understand that URL thing.

  2. She needs someone to host her website! If nobody has done so already, I can do it for her. With pleasure. I'll wait until Canada wakes up, though, to contact her… it's still in the middle of the night there. I republished all of Lanteigne's text, and wrote about the follies of corporate bullying.

  3. John,

    Her original website was at http://ca.geocities.com/infringements@rogers.com/, but Yahoo! Canada Geocities has temporarily taken it down because it is too popular. Google still have a back-up at http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:zQLM8Fs0lo8J:ca.geocities.com/infringements%40rogers.com/+&hl=en&client=firefox-a, and Robert was kind enough to host a copy at http://www.robshouse.net/environment/14/11/2005/concerned_mom_gets_sued_by_mega_developer_for_writing_about_environmental_abuses.

    For a taste of what it was like, here is her last post before being attacked by Canadian lawyers:

    “On Saturday April 16th 2005, an environmental spill was reported to the Waterloo Regional Environmental Enforcement Services after I spotted multiple leaks of diesel fuel and oil at an area construction site located near the storm management pond at the corner of Bleams and Fisher Hallman in Kitchener.

    I have been reporting such infringements by various companies to both the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of the Environment as well as to Waterloo City Council and the media over the past 4 years. The city's response has always been quick and effective to address the immediate situations and they had given developers warnings but after a week or so, the sites would fall often fall back to unsafe standards again.

    I spotted similar spills during the construction of my own subdivision of Columbia Forest in Waterloo years ago as well as in the neighboring subdivision of Laurel Creek Village in Waterloo. In all the following situations I have documented, the infringements took place in the area of the Waterloo aquifer or near storm management ponds. I am concerned that such polluting will pose a direct risk to the region's drinking water. I have witnessed unharnessed roofers in Columbia Forest, Clair Hills, Laurelwood Village and in Kitchener at the Laurentian Village subdivisions both before and after I went to city council and the Ministry of Labor. This is in direct violation of existing Labor laws. This site is created to provide the public with the actual photos of what I saw so that we can all see and learn how best to proceed with this situation. All the photos and contents of this website are free for anyone to use.”

    Robert, thanks for hosting the back-up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *