Presenters at NDA act committee hearing will get ‘opportunity to speak their truth’
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/10/2022 (212 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
On Wednesday night, those who’ve been silenced by signing a non-disclosure agreement will have a chance to speak up without fear of being sued.
A committee at the Manitoba legislature will hear from presenters registered to speak about private member’s Bill 225 (Non-Disclosure Agreements Act). The bill introduced by Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont is intended to stop non-disclosure agreements from being used to protect predators and those who employ or represent them.
It would restrict the use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of discrimination or harassment.
For those who’ve been gagged by an NDA, the protection afforded by parliamentary privilege will allow them to talk about it while they’re addressing the committee, said Lamont.
“They’ll have an opportunity to speak their truth… For anybody who has been subject to an NDA like this, they as a presenter will enjoy the same privilege that we as MLAs do,” he said Friday.
“As an MLA, I’m allowed to say things at committee and in the house and am shielded from liability of being sued because, the whole idea is, so I am able to tell the truth,” Lamont said.
“The same will apply to witnesses and presenters at committee.”
So far, 17 presenters have registered to speak at the committee. Anything they say before or after their presentation is not protected speech.
“At committee, the presenters will actually be able to reveal why they were forced to sign an NDA and why this bill to reform NDAs is so important,” Lamont said.
“We know — whether it’s Hockey Canada, whether it’s Peter Nygard — that over and over again NDAs are being used to silence people and protect powerful people.”
(Hockey Canada has been rocked by news of the national sport body spending millions on sexual abuse payouts; Nygard, the former Winnipeg fashion mogul, is in jail awaiting trial on sex assault charges.)
Lamont said he expects some of the presenters registered to speak Wednesday will be bound by NDAs.
The proposed Manitoba legislation would make a non-disclosure agreement unenforceable unless it complies with the following requirements: it must have been the expressed wish and desire of the complainant; the complainant had an opportunity to receive legal advice; there were no undue attempts to influence the complainant to enter into the agreement; it does not adversely affect the public interest; it provides a process for the complainant to waive their own confidentiality; and it has a set duration.
The bill is modelled on Prince Edward Island’s Non-Disclosure Agreements Act, which came into force in May. Its stated purpose is “to regulate the content and use of non-disclosure agreements.”
The East Coast province became the first jurisdiction in Canada to limit the use of non-disclosure clauses in settlement agreements. It stipulates in cases of discrimination or harassment, including sexual misconduct, a non-disclosure agreement can only be part of a settlement if the person bringing forward the allegation wants it there.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.