HAMILTON, ON, November 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Unable to find legal means to shut down a peaceful pro-life demonstration with graphic banners taking place weekly on the bypasses of Hamilton’s busy expressway, one Hamilton city councillor is drafting a motion that would have such banners outlawed and impose a rating system on graphic images.
“It’s not outlawing those banners. It’s outlawing all banners,” councillor Terry Whitehead told LifeSiteNews.com.
Whitehead, who called abortion a “personal choice”, said the banners pose a “safety issue” for drivers along the Lincoln Alexander Parkway (Linc).
The proposed motion is not “about targeting an organization”, he said. But he admitted that there are no other organizations draping banners over city overpasses.
Stephanie Gray, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR), characterized the proposed motion as viewpoint discrimination.
“We are exercising our right to freedom of speech as set out in the Charter. For this city councillor to try to put limits on our expression would be to violate our Charter rights,” she told LifeSiteNews.
CCBR pro-life activists have targeted Hamilton with images of abortion victims in the past months, displaying large banners over the expressway. The banners, held by a minimum of four people on overpasses during peak traffic hours, have proven effective in garnering media coverage and provoking discussion, with angry drivers contacting city officials and police.
A Hamilton motorist who was rear-ended on Monday near the Linc’s Mohawk Road overpass when pro-lifers were demonstrating is blaming the group for the accident. But the woman who caused the accident did not attribute it to the banner. Police charged her with careless driving, reported The Spec.
“We are in no way responsible for the accident,” Gray said.
“Even if [the woman who caused the accident] were to say she was distracted by the banner, she is the one in charge of what she allows her attention to focus on and not focus on. She allowed herself to not focus on her driving.”
Gray said that a male driver distracted by an attractive woman jogging down the road is completely blameworthy if he crashes his car into the car in front of him. “Are we going to say the woman is to blame for the accident?”
Hamilton police have confirmed that the CCBR is demonstrating within the confines of federal, provincial, and municipal laws.
But Whitehead hopes his motion will “tweak” the bylaws.
Whitehead said that a poll of “87 percent of the population” of Hamilton showed dissatisfaction with the banners. When pressed for the source of the data, Whitehead admitted that the poll was run on his own personal website. As of Wednesday afternoon, 11 out of 13 people, or 85 percent voted that the “anti-abortion images hanging off the bridge over the Linc” makes them “upset”.
Whitehead said he is concerned that minors will become “desensitized” by the graphic images and that they should be protected from having to view them. When asked if the unborn should be protected Whitehead responded: “I’m not getting into that debate. In my opinion, [abortion] is a personal choice”.
Gray said that if Whitehead is “concerned about children, then where is his concern for pre-born children?”
“Where is his expression of outrage about the fact that the content of the images is reality that is happening in Hamilton and that young children in Hamilton are being killed with our tax dollars?”
One on-line commenter named Rose wrote that the “panic that these images instill in people should speak volumes.”
“We [pro-abortion city councillors and other pro-abortion supporters] will stop at nothing in order to get these images banned. Why? Because they convict us, that's why! Who can look at these images and not see the humanity of the victims of abortion? And after seeing the humanity we still have the audacity to cry, My body, my choice;? Do we not see what our 'choice' looks like?! Shame on us!”
Whitehead plans to have his notice of motion ready for the Nov. 13 council meeting.
View Councillor Whitehead’s anti-banner poll here.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina
E-mail: [email protected]
Find contact info for all city councillors here.