NewsThu Jul 30, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST
New Brunswick Right To Life Group Takes Transit to HRC Over Refusal of Bus Ads
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
FREDERICTON, July 30, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Fredericton Right to Life Association has filed a complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission against Fredericton Transit for its refusal to allow pro-life ads on its buses.
In the fall of 2008, the transit authority refused to sell advertising space to the pro-life group because it deemed the advertising to be political commentary.
The ads, which ran in over 50 communities, were part of a nationwide pro-life campaign, coordinated by Life Canada. The ads depict a pregnant woman in profile. At the top are the words, "Nine months: the length of time abortion is allowed in Canada. No medical reason needed." At the bottom is the question, "Abortion, have we gone too far?"
The wording was subsequently changed to satisfy an Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) decision that ruled the ads "deceptive," because the ads did not mention "access issues." The revised version read: "The Human heart begins to beat 21 days after conception. Currently in Canada that heartbeat can be stopped up until birth. No medical reason needed. Abortion. Have we gone too far?"
Fredericton Right to Life spokesman Thaddee Renault said a recent 8-0 Canadian Supreme Court ruling against transit officials in British Columbia who had refused political ads on Vancouver buses, gives weight to his claim of discrimination. The ruling should also be applied equally to Fredericton Transit, he said.
"I would like to see them change their position on political advertising and not just to allow the politicians to be able to put out political beliefs," Renault told the Daily Gleaner.
"As a private citizen, as an organization, we should be able to put something out. What we were intending to do is educate, but they considered it a political advertisement," Renault said.
"This is where I said that they were sort of treading on our freedom of expression, our political activities and political beliefs. I'm not against any advertising, but if they can, we can. It's discrimination. That's what it is. All I'm interested in is a change in city policy."
The Fredericton pro-life group is optimistic that their complaint to the HRC will prove to be successful.
Hamilton Right to Life filed an identical human rights complaint against that city, after it banned pro-life ads on its buses, saying that they were "offensive" and "totally inappropriate."
The City of Hamilton subsequently dropped its ban after the ad's wording was altered to satisfy the ASC decision and the city revised its rules so as to allow pro-life advertisements to be displayed in city buses.
Hamilton Right to Life then consented to drop its complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Commission that charged the city with violating the group's right to freedom of expression and denying it equal treatment.
LifeSiteNews reported earlier this month that legal experts have suggested that the Supreme Court decision in the BC litigation will benefit the pro-life cause, since the principles applied to that case will be transferable to advertising of pro-life and other related issues on buses, bus stops, and other public areas.
See related LSN coverage:
Buses Cannot Refuse Political Ads, Supreme Court of Canada Rules in B.C. Case
Right to Life Group Files Complaint with Ontario Human Rights Commission
Hamilton Right to Life Wins Ad Battle - Pro Life Ads Are Back on Buses and Shelters
Pro-Life Ads Pointing Out Fact that in Canada Abortion is Permitted Until Birth are Ruled "Deceptive"