In August the provincial government issued a White Paper containing a draft Societies Act. The draft Act contains many proposals for reform, most of them likely to be beneficial to the not-for-profit sector. One proposal generated considerable concern, however. Sectuion 99 of the draft Act would, if passed, give members of the general public the ability (subject to court approval) to seek a range of court orders on the grounds that the Society was not acting in the public interest.
The applicant would not have to show that the activitiy complained of was illegal in any way. After discussing the implications of this provision with a number of leaders in the not-for-profit sector, Mary, working with Andrew Gage of West Coast Environmental Law, drafted a letter of response setting out concerns about the potential for abuse of this provision, which could be used to intimidate societies doing controversial or challenging work. The letter was sign by 57 supporting groups from across the province and from many different sectors: environmental groups, women-serving groups, arts organisations, seniors groups, and social justice organizations, among others. The letter was submitted on October 15th, 2014.