TORONTO, August 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A group of Toronto politicians is out to ban images of abortion victims from public display and distribution.
NDP Member of Provincial Parliament Peter Tabuns sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General Yasir Navqi asking the Ontario Liberal government for a court order forbidding the display of images of abortion victims on the street and in mailbox flyers.
The letter was co-signed by Toronto city councillors Paula Fletcher and Mary Fragedakis and Toronto Public School Board trustee Jennifer Storey.
At the same time, Toronto councillor Sarah Doucette announced she’s introducing a bylaw to ban abortion victim images from the city’s streets.
Tabuns and Doucette both point to the activities of the Calgary-based Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform as the catalyst for their campaign.
CCBR’s Mississauga office deployed 19 interns during the summer to stand on sidewalks throughout the Greater Toronto Area, holding large images of babies aborted at various ages.
They also distributed flyers with images of aborted babies in mailboxes across the GTA.
Doucette told CBC she has received hundreds of complaints from residents in her west Toronto ward and plans to propose a bylaw in October to stop this.
She decided on the bylaw after police told her the signs aren’t illegal, Doucette told the Star, which reported Calgary has already enacted bylaws banning abortion images.
But that’s not accurate, says Jonathon Van Maren, CCBR communications director.
Calgary modified its bylaw to ban flyers from mailboxes “that had an express label on the mailbox forbidding junk mail,” he told LifeSiteNews. “That’s not a ban on graphic images — it’s a generic bylaw.”
Calgary’s bylaw prohibiting displaying banners on overpasses also applies generally.
“What’s being presented here in the Toronto media is we need to follow Calgary’s lead,” Van Maren said.
“If they want to follow Calgary’s lead, that’s just fine. We can continue on doing our activism because the Calgary bylaws are generically applied to all groups.”
Indeed, Calgary’s councillors took pains to ensure their bylaws would “avoid the accusation of ‘content-based’ discrimination,” added Van Maren.
So the interpretation that Calgary’s bylaws target a particular group “says perhaps a bit more than their lawyer would like them to.”
MPP Tabuns and allies aren’t waiting for the fall but want immediate action.
Tabuns asked the attorney general for a court order “blocking the use of horrifying images by an anti-abortion group, the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, which is distributing flyers and displaying placards on major streets in our area.”
And if an injunction is not possible, Tabuns wants the Liberals to introduce “legislation to prohibit the use of such graphic and disturbing images.”
The MPP also launched a petition to ban the images, which has been signed by 890 people at last count.
Attorney general spokesperson Emilie Smith told LifeSiteNews the ministry received Tabuns’ letter and “will closely review his concerns.”
The ministry will also “monitor the debate” on a possible bylaw at Toronto City Hall, she said in an email.
Moreover, the Liberals “will be introducing safe access zone legislation in the coming weeks that would help give women and their health care providers safe and reliable access to women’s healthcare facilities,” Smith said.
“Every woman in Ontario has the right to make decisions about her own healthcare – and they deserve to do so freely, and without fear.”
If the Liberal government goes for an injunction, Tabuns has made the attorney general’s task “much more difficult,” says Van Maren.
The MPP’s letter “explicitly advocates for content-based discrimination, which is unconstitutional and does violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” he told LifeSiteNews.
So Tabuns has “created a situation in which it’s very obvious that they’re targeting a specific group with a specific set of views.”
The CCBR would challenge an injunction in court, Van Maren says.
That’s echoed by Carol Crosson, a constitutional lawyer who has acted for CCBR in the past.
“In light of the jurisprudence, it’s a ridiculous position for government to take,” she told LifeSiteNews.
“If government has this ability to pass an injunction to prohibit a particular message, they have free rein to do it on any message, and that’s rather frightening,” added Crosson.
“Who is not at risk then? Who that shares a message is not at risk? No one.”
Tabuns’ open letter also “essentially validates CCBR’s position, which is that 300 pre-born children are being decapitated, dismembered and disembowelled every day in this country,” noted Van Maren.
The MPP writes that the “graphic images feature chopped up fetuses,” he said. “Well, I wonder why this MPP thinks it’s more offensive for people to see chopped up fetuses than for fetuses to be chopped up in the first place.”