HAMILTON, Ontario (Campaign Life Coalition) – In a big win for pro-life free speech, a judicial panel in Ontario unanimously ruled January 26 that the city of Guelph’s decision to pull pro-life ads from buses without weighing free speech rights was “unreasonable.”
“This is a tremendous win for the pro-life movement in Canada,” Jakki Jeffs, executive director of Alliance for Life Ontario, told Campaign Life Coalition.
In 2020, the city of Guelph removed three pro-life bus advertisements created and paid for by Guelph and Area Right to Life, an affiliate of Alliance for Life Ontario.
The ads depicted images of pregnant women or pre-born babies, with slogans such as “Life Should Be the Most Fundamental Human Right – Say No to Abortion,” “Human rights should not depend on where you are. Say no to abortion,” and “What about her choice? Say No to Abortion.” The pro-life group has been putting pro-life ads on Guelph buses for about 20 years.
The city decided to remove the pro-life ads after consulting with Advertising Standards Canada, a private regulatory body, and hearing that the ads violated Ad Standards’ own opinions about free speech. It was Ad Standards’ opinion that the ads were “misleading,” “inaccurate,” or “demeaning to women.”
The city found Ad Standards’ private opinion “persuasive” and removed the pro-life ads from the buses.
The court ruled, however, that that city’s reliance on Ad Standards opinion was “unreasonable” because the city “improperly” relied on Ad Standards’ rulings without giving any consideration to the pro-life group’s “right to freedom of expression.”
“The City cannot rely on Ad Standards as the final arbiter of the decisions it must make,” the court ruled.
The court sent the matter back to the city and ordered it to decide whether or not to run the pro-life ads based on laws enacted by the city, not based on the opinion of a third-party private organization.
The court also ordered the city to pay $25,000 in costs to the pro-life group.
Constitutional lawyer Carol Crosson, who represented the group, said that the ruling is significant for pro-life advocates across the country.
“This case affirms and builds on a ruling from Alberta in 2020 where the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruled in like manner: When municipalities do not consider and adequately balance the Charter right to freedom of expression when they prohibit the pro-life message, they breach Charter section 2(b) and make an unreasonable decision.”
“In particular to the facts in both of the two cases, reliance on a private advertising regulator, Advertising Standards Canada, is no substitute for this proper Charter consideration and balancing,” she told Campaign Life Coalition.
Crosson said that the ruling means that the “right to freedom of expression for the pro-life message cannot be dismissed out of hand, especially on the basis of improper considerations.”
“I believe it also means that the right to freedom of expression, especially in relation to this message, is worth fighting for,” she added.
She said the ruling should encourage pro-life advocates to speak out more.
“In our present climate, it is tempting to become discouraged, which can act to make many wonder if our rights are worth fighting for,” said Crosson.
“Our rights are always worth fighting for, especially when that concerns the right to speak for the rights of an unborn child. I hope the ruling encourages more individuals and groups to stand up for our Charter freedoms.”
“There are no waves without ripples. Be that ripple, every single day,” Crosson said.
Jeffs praised Guelph and Area Right to Life for its courage and for deciding to take the city on.
“It is always difficult to decide where you take a stand but our affiliate member Guelph Right to Life decided that this was the hill to die on, so to speak,” she told Campaign Life Coalition.
She echoed Crosson in pointing out that the win has ramifications for every pro-life group in Canada.
“For way too long, our opponents have made use of their network in an effort to shut our voice out of society and, in the last few years, they have targeted our advertising on City property and busses even, suggesting to city councils that they use Ads Standards to be the arbiter of what message is acceptable or not on municipal government-owned property.”
“This win will mean that all municipal councils will be reminded that their focus must be on our Charter Freedoms and they may not delegate this important part of the discussion to another entity,” she said.
Since launching our petition in support of the Freedom Convoy truckers less than one week ago, we've managed to obtain more than 65,000 signatures from freedom-loving people in every corner of the world!
This is an excellent show of support for the international cause of freedom from intrusive medical mandates, but Canada's truckers still find themselves a foremost target of their government, at both the federal and, now, local levels.
In fact, Mayor Jim Watson has even instituted an entirely unnecessary and politically-motivated "state of emergency" in Ottawa simply due to the truckers' presence there.
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If you have already signed this petition, please consider SHARING it on any of the following social media platforms by clicking on their respective links:
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Thank you for being a voice for freedom and medical autonomy!
Canadian truckers are fighting back against Justin Trudeau's Covid overreach and medical tyranny, and are giving people across the country -- and the world -- a new voice for freedom!
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Please SIGN and SHARE this petition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to back off these truckers, change course in his approach to Covid, and support the medical autonomy of the truckers and all working Canadians going forward.
Like millions of Canadian workers across the country, truckers are being required by Justin Trudeau's Liberal government to get the experimental Covid-19 vaccine, or face a 14-day quarantine period if and when they cross the border into the United States to make their deliveries.
These truckers were categorized as "essential workers" (which they most certainly are) during the worst days of the Covid crisis, when lockdowns were the universal norm and millions of people were forced out of their jobs and offices. Even so, they remained on the job through it all, ensuring that essentials were available to people in every corner of the country, even when some businesses were shut down and strict rules were in place that made something as simple as grocery shopping a challenge for millions.
In fact, Prime Minister Trudeau went out of his way to compliment these men and women back in March of 2020, tweeting the following:
While many of us are working from home, there are others who aren’t able to do that - like the truck drivers who are working day and night to make sure our shelves are stocked. So when you can, please #ThankATrucker for everything they’re doing and help them however you can.
In fact, But just yesterday, Trudeau went on the record at a press conference labeling these truckers everything from "racists" to "Nazis" in a simply stunning reversal from his earlier comments.
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Because, as it turns out, these truckers are refusing to sit idly by while their rights -- and the rights of millions of working Canadians -- remain under attack like never before, and they are standing up to Trudeau and challenging his government's radical medical tyranny head-on.
With their livelihoods on the line, these truckers decided it was time to take action.
This past weekend, the #FreedomConvoy led a 50-mile-long caravan of what's estimated to be thousands of truckers from across Canada to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, where they staged a monumental demonstration to protest Trudeau's vaccination mandate.
In addition, truckers from across the United States (who are similarly fighting to preserve their own medical freedoms against a power-hungry federal government) also joined the Freedom Convoy to stand in solidarity with their neighbors to the north.
This massive, now-international movement to restore the individual rights of these truckers and all working people after nearly two years' worth of lockdowns, mandates, and vast government overreach and infringement is taking Ottawa -- and all of Canada -- by storm.
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He has dismissed the truckers and their supporters as a "small fringe," and has even accused the organizers of the Freedom Convoy and its participants of holding "unacceptable views."
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So please, take a few minutes now to SIGN and SHARE this important petition asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reverse course by supporting these truckers (and all working Canadians) by abandoning intrusive, unconstitutional vaccination mandates for working people going forward.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Canada’s trucker convoy has shown the world it’s possible to push back against COVID tyranny': https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/canadas-trucker-convoy-has-shown-the-world-its-possible-to-push-back-against-covid-tyranny/
**Photo Credit: YouTube (screenshot)
Jeffs added that the win ultimately means pro-life groups “will be treated fairly and not subjected to a private organization of non-elected individuals with their own bias.”
“It is an equality issue in a way – a path that pro-life groups very rarely find themselves upon in this country, unfortunately. It provides the freedom for us to share our opinion in the same way as any other organization and for us that is a wonderful and much-appreciated step forward,” she said.
Jeffs thanked the lawyers involved in making the case a success.
“Our sincere thanks go to Carol Crosson for having the audacious courage to take up this case, and to John Sikkema and Tabitha Ewert who provided eloquent support on behalf of the Christian Heritage Party and the Association for Reformed Political Action.”
Campaign Life Coalition congratulates Guelph and Area Right to Life along with Jeffs and Crosson on the big win.
Reprinted with permission from Campaign Life Coalition