There have been many thoughtful responses in the Outlook to both Blair Richardson’s unpleasant public letter and Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Limited's (TSMVPL) platitudinous official statement.
We all know public skirmishes like this will come and go, but as the current dust settles, a very serious matter persists: TSMVPL’s $161 million lawsuit, which bears all the hallmarks of a SLAPP, or Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation.
The Supreme Court of Canada defines SLAPPs as follows: “SLAPPs are lawsuits used to stop people from speaking out on something that’s important to the public. … They are about intimidating and silencing critics with the threat of costing them time and money to defend the lawsuit.” (2020 SCC 23)
In other words, they are blunt instruments wielded by the wealthy.
Nobody in southern Alberta can doubt that the TSMVPL owners have very deep pockets. The Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts at Mount Royal University, with its bedazzling Bella concert hall, and the substantial donation to the Calgary Zoo to pamper polar bears, both show how very proud the Taylor family is… to share its wealth with the Calgary populace.
Such largesse, however, seems to wither when it comes to TSMVPL’s relations with Canmore – despite the tremendous opportunities for wealth generation, name recognition, and philanthropic pursuits that TSMVPL development will offer the Taylor family for years to come. Not to mention the wherewithal to sustain protracted lawsuits.
Unlike their official words, TSMVPL’s actions seem rooted more in arrogance than in respect. How else to explain the continued existence of that massive lawsuit? Why did Mr. Richardson – who, we’re assured, wasn’t speaking for TSMVPL – claim that “it’s essential to ask who these people are” when referring to the protestors at the Taylor house? Might he be suggesting that they, too, could be hit with litigation?
That is, slapped with a resounding SLAPP from our neighbourly TSMVPL?