Group pressures Ontario city to ban public display of abortion images
OSHAWA, Ontario, June 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Show The Truth is asking supporters to email Oshawa’s mayor and city councillors before Monday’s city hall meeting to protest a proposed bylaw to ban the display of abortion images in residential areas.
Christeen Thornton* of the anti-poverty group Direct Intervention Reaching Everyone (DIRE) Oshawa is leading a delegation to ask council to implement a bylaw “restricting the display of graphic imagery or text related to anti-abortion protests in residential zones,” according to the Oshawa City Council’s June 11 meeting agenda.
DIRE Oshawa posted a copy of a letter on Facebook they sent May 27 to Oshawa city councillors. It describes an encounter with two of their group with Show The Truth members on May 26 outside the campaign office of Oshawa Liberal candidate Makini Smith.
The letter claims the DIRE pair “were met with extreme hostility” when they approached Show The Truth members, who were displaying their trademark large graphic images of abortion victims.
But in letter prepared on their behalf by Calgary-based constitutional lawyer Carol Crosson, Show The Truth members assert “this claim is patently false.”
Crosson writes in the letter June 7 to Mayor John Henry and the nine Oshawa city councillors that STT members describe a completely different version of events.
They contend their conversation with the DIRE couple ended with one of the two, later identified as Austin Bates, saying, “We appreciated talking with you.”
STT coordinator Rosemary Connell confirmed this in an email to her supporters.
The STT members had a “very respectful discussion with a couple who lived in the area who stopped to voice their opinion and educate us on their details of abortion. We introduced ourselves and after about 20 minutes of polite, respectful conversation we shook hands and they left.”
Moreover, Durham Regional Police had been called to the scene earlier because an unidentified passerby pushed one of the pro-lifers “when the member would not yield her sign to the hostile individual,” Crosson related in her letter.
The police officer told the “hostile individual who had assaulted” the STT member that his position was “while your views might be different, that does not allow you to assault someone,” Crosson wrote.
While at least three police officers “attended the scene” for some time, “at no time did these officers communicate any concerns to the group about the behaviour or the display of the members of Show The Truth,” she pointed out.
DIRE’s request for a bylaw “makes the outrageous claim” that Ontario’s Bill 163, which bans pro-life witness within 150 feet of the homes of abortion providers, “should be extended into a municipal bylaw because, ‘It is impossible to know where service providers and patients live,’” Crosson observed.
“The practical result of DIRE’s request is that those who have an opposing view than that of DIRE should be prevented from sharing their view anyway that members of the public reside,” Crosson wrote. “How convenient.”
She commended the police officers for upholding the law May 26.
“Some individuals in the Oshawa community take the position that those who hold an opposing view on abortion should be assaulted, threatened and muzzled,” Crosson added. “They want the right to free speech to only apply to those who share the same view as they do.”
A municipality has no jurisdiction to prohibit free speech and “must remain neutral on social issues and respect the Charter 2(b) rights its residents have to freedom of expression.”
A STT video posted June 3 explains why they displayed their message outside the Liberal campaign office of Makini Smith (who lost to NDP incumbent Jessica French in Thursday’s election).
Connell is asking pro-life supporters to send polite and short emails to Mayor Henry and all city councillors before the June 11 meeting that underscore the Charter right to free speech.
A suggested message is: “We ask that the City of Oshawa continue to respect the right to free speech that all individuals in Oshawa possess, no matter what their message. We do not believe it is the City’s place to take sides on a social issue, but simply to support the law, which provides that members of the Oshawa community have a right to peacefully share their message on public sidewalks. We also urge the City to act on facts, not unproven and false allegations against members of the community.”
Show The Truth members adhere to a code of conduct in which they agree to peacefully share their message on the truth and consequences of abortion though the display of signs about abortion.
Emails protesting DIRE’s proposed bylaw can be sent, with a cc to [email protected], to:
Mayor John Henry, [email protected]
John Aker, [email protected]
Gail Bates, [email protected]
Dan Carter, [email protected]
Rick Kerr, [email protected]
Amy McQuaid-England, [email protected]
John Neal, [email protected]
Nester Pidwerbecki, [email protected]
Doug Sanders, [email protected]
John Shields, [email protected]
* Correction: LifeSiteNews originally had "Christine Deenan" as leading the delegation whereas it is "Christeen Thornton." We regret this error.