expression on a matter of public interest is based on a technically valid cause of
action but seeks a remedy for only insignificant harm to reputation, business or
personal interests, the action’s negative impact on freedom of expression may
be clearly disproportionate to any valid purpose the litigation might serve.
 The panel identified a two-pronged approach for
distinguishing between those claims that sought to unduly limit
a defendant’s freedom of expression and those claims that legitimately sought to vindicate a wrong suffered as a result of
a defendant’s exercise of his or her freedom of expression. The
first prong looked to the merits of the plaintiff’s claim. The second sought to measure the public interest served by allowing the
plaintiff’s action to proceed against the harm caused by that
action to the defendant’s freedom of expression: see paras. 37-38.
 Ultimately, the two-pronged approach suggested by the panel
was tracked in Ontario’s anti-SLAPP legislation, although the
public interest balancing described in the legislation is somewhat
different than that proposed by the panel: see s. 137.1(4)(a) and (b).
 The comments of the Attorney General at the time the
proposed legislation received second reading shed further light on
its purpose and intent:
[TRANSLATION:] The purpose of the Bill is to protect freedom of expression
. . . It aims to achieve a significant balance, to the benefit of all parties to
a dispute. . . . Balance is a constant theme: the need to strike a balance that
will end abusive litigation while allowing legitimate actions.
. . . . .
[The Bill] does not create a so-called “licence to slander”. Instead, the Bill
aims to protect expression on matters of public interest. What the Bill would
do is let a court review lawsuits brought against such expression at an early
stage. It would then be up to the court to decide whether the expression at
issue is likely to cause serious harm. If so, the court may allow the lawsuit to
continue in the normal course of litigation.
I strongly believe that the law must defend reputation, but not at any cost and
not in every case. I do not believe that a mere technical case — without actual
harm — should be allowed to suppress the kind of democratic expression that
is crucial for our democracy: Ontario, Legislative Assembly, Official Report of
Debates (Hansard), 41st Parl., 1st Sess., No. 41A (10 December 2014), at
pp. 1971-72 (Hon. Madeleine Meilleur).
 At third reading, the Attorney General again emphasized
that the purpose of the legislation was not to short-circuit actions
involving “truly harmful defamatory attack[s]”. She explained:
This Bill would provide a process for the courts to evaluate whether free expres-
sion on a matter of public interest should be subject to a lawsuit by having the
courts make an evaluation in several steps. First, the views expressed by