Caution: Graphic images of abortion victims appear at the bottom of this story.
MISSISSAUGA, May 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) –A pro-life campaign based on shocking abortion pictures is upsetting some people in Mississauga, so much so the mayor says she’s “appalled” they are being delivered door-to-door where children can see them.
But shocking people is their intention, say the unapologetic promoters of the campaign, and one well within their free speech rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The police agree and so do constitutional experts.
At issue are 50,000-plus postcards being distributed there door-to-door by volunteers from the Toronto-based Campaign Life Coalition and the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR) as part of the No2Trudeau campaign. This is a response to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s insistence that, for the first time, Liberal MPs must vote pro-abortion every time and all the time the issue arises in Parliament.
Jonathon Van Maren, communications director for the Calgary-based CCBR, told LifeSiteNews the plan is to hand out a million postcards in at least 20 key federal ridings before the October federal election.
The postcards are one of a three-pronged mobilization of pro-life sentiment keyed to the election; the second prong is CLC’s effort to match pro-life volunteers with pro-life candidates, and the third is to identify and get out the pro-life voters on election day, while saving their IDs in data banks for future campaigns.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie told the Mississauga News she had received many complaints from disgusted residents and agreed with them that they shouldn’t be distributed in a way that children could see them. “I'm appalled that these flyers are being delivered to Mississauga homes…,” she said. “Regardless of your stance on the issue, I think we can all agree that such graphic and unsolicited flyers should not be carelessly distributed to the doorsteps of our residents where innocent children could see them.”
But the CLC and CBBR clearly don’t agree with Crombie. Nor do the police. Their spokesman, Thomas Ruttan, said the force had “been made aware” of the postcards but had found nothing requiring a response. “We all agree that this flyer is graphic in nature, and may be offensive to some people,” he said. “However there is no criminality based on the content of this flyer.”
The CCBR’s Van Maren told LifeSiteNews his organization has been delivering postcards or displaying equally disgusting posters and even driving a van around Calgary with huge and gory images on its sides for many years and has learned always to clear it with police first.
The current postcards juxtapose images of the remains of babies aborted in the first and second trimesters with a picture of Justin Trudeau. “Nobody has a right not be confronted with pictures of abortions,” Van Maren said. “Everybody pays taxes that pay for the abortions; everybody votes for the leaders who approve the abortions.”
According to Van Maren, Canadians suffer from a “cognitive dissonance,” that allows them to be comfortable with their complicity in Canada’s more than 100,000 abortions done annually because “they never actually think about how horrifying an abortion actually is.”
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“Polling shows most Canadians would like there to be some restriction on abortion,” said Van Maren. “But the polls also show most Canadians would rather the issue of abortion never came up.” And most pro-lifers, he added, don’t want to do anything about it. That’s what the three-pronged campaign is intended to shake up.
But the reaction of not only the public but elected officials to the No2Trudeau campaign’s graphic images of dismembered unborn babies, is raising questions about how aware—and supportive—Canadians are about free speech.
“The number of Canadians who understand that freedom of speech means the right to offend is decreasing,” said John Carpay of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, also in Calgary.
Nor are politicians better informed than the general public. “A basic knowledge of the Charter is not a prerequisite for getting elected to public office,” he told LifeSiteNews. Thus ill-informed municipal politicians often respond to complaining citizens by promising to do something about the offending demonstrators or handouts, instead of informing people about the meaning of free speech.
“If freedom of speech doesn’t mean the right to be offensive, it’s worthless,” said Carpay, adding that most police forces, at least, understand this.
Josh Paterson of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association told LifeSiteNews that “embedded in the arguments” of many of those opposing free speech is the erroneous belief that “there is a right not to be emotionally offended.”
Paterson and Carpay enumerated several legal limits on free speech, leading with inciting other people to violence, then to other criminal acts, then criminalization of speech which itself is intended too defraud. “But if you let offensiveness limit free speech,” said Paterson, “especially in a discussion of an important public issue [like abortion] you are doing a far greater harm to democracy than you are doing by giving some people offense.”
The front and back of the postcards pro-life activists are distributing in Mississauga: