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Steve Weatherbe

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‘No2Trudeau’ graphic postcards changing minds, despite ad council ruling

Steve Weatherbe

CALGARY, July 17, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The “No2Trudeau” campaign to hand-deliver 1 million graphic postcards in key federal ridings before the coming general election is going ahead on-schedule despite a ruling by the Advertising Standards Council of Canada that “they offend the standards of public decency.”

Ontario residents complained to the ad council after postcards were dropped in their mailboxes bearing images of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and a bloodied aborted unborn child, along with text explaining Trudeau’s ban on pro-lifers running for his party and salient facts about children in the womb.

But spokespersons for both the Calgary-based Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform and Campaign Life Coalition told LifeSiteNews the campaign would carry on. “I’m thrilled with how it’s going,” CCBR’s Jonathon Van Maren said. As for the ad council’s ruling, “It’s just one private organization’s opinion about what another private organization is doing. It doesn’t actually mean anything to us and it’s not going to stop anything we are doing.” 

Alissa Golob of Campaign Life Coalition said the organization had been using graphic images for years because they are known to change people’s minds. She cited public health campaigns against drunk driving and drugs, and great reform movements such as the British campaign against slavery led by William Wilberforce and popularized in the film "Amazing Grace". They all used graphic images.

“The other side likes to talk about choice but you can’t do that honestly without showing what the choice means. We use graphic images because we know how effective they are and the other side opposes their use for the same reason,” Golob told LifeSiteNews.

But Kanata, Ontario resident Shari Glenney Fisher, told the Kanata Kourier Standard she doesn’t object to the content of the postcard but she doesn’t want it being dropped, uncovered, in mailboxes where children can see it. “When my seven-year-old daughter walked out of the house to go to the car, (the postcard) was in plain sight for her to see,” said Fisher.

Fisher is one of several Ontario parents who complained. At first the ad council said the postcards were covered by the exemption in the group’s code of ethics for political advertising but when she re-complained, the council realized the same bloody image had been used in Prince Edward Island without political ramifications, sparking a council ruling against the ad: “The advertisement displayed obvious indifference to conduct or attitudes that offend the standards of public decency prevailing among a significant segment of the population.”

Despite the fact that Fisher’s complaint was clearly about a political campaign, the council reversed itself and condemned the No2Trudeau ad. According to the council’s Janet Feasby, “Notwithstanding that aspects of the No2Trudeau advertising are political in nature, the political elements may be separated from the images of aborted fetuses featured in this advertising.”

Responds Van Maren, “Of course our use of the graphic imagery is directly tied to Justin Trudeau’s denial of religious freedom to Liberal Members of Parliament. The two cannot be separated.”

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It was not the first decision the council made that was hostile to the pro-life cause. Last year it ruled against a billboard posted by Guelph Right to Life that showed late-term unborn babies and bore the text, “This is a Child not a Choice” and “I’m not a potential person. I’m a person with potential.” The council endorsed every one of the arguments of the pro-abortion complainer: that, a foetus is neither a person nor a child under the Criminal Code, and that the picture constitutes false advertising because few late term babies, as pictured, are aborted.

The Advertising Standards Council has no authority over advertisers. Member organizations such as billboard companies and publications can remove ads if they agree with an adverse ruling, or not.

But the two pro-life organizations are not only not members, they do not agree with the ruling. It is not the images that offend against public decency, they say, it is abortion that does. That’s the point of using them.

According to Van Maren, “Our polling on the postcards show that even in New Democratic ridings which are likely to be pro-choice, about 42% of people we survey say the postcards have a negative impact on their view of abortion.” An equal proportion report no change in their attitude to abortion, and the remainder report the images improved their attitude to abortion.

Tens of thousands of people have called the two organizations at the number the postcards provide. Pro-life volunteers and staff try to respond within the day. Only one percent of callers end the calls still angry about the cards. Recalls Golob: “One caller told me, ‘Well, I disagree with the message but keep doing what you are doing.’”

The well-thought-out campaign has several purposes. It informs voters about Trudeau’s pro-abortion views and actions and about the facts that Canada allows abortion to the moment of birth and that an unborn child has a heartbeat at 21 days. It mobilizes pro-life volunteers to deliver postcards or answer telephones, and it engages those upset by the postcards in one-on-one conversations. Van Maren reports it is on schedule to deliver 1 million cards by election day.

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