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Please contact City of Peterborough
to cancel anti-choice ads on buses

Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada

January 2, 2017

Please urge the City of Peterborough to refuse to run an offensive anti-choice ad on the backs of its transit buses. Sample letters and contact information below.


Summary of Issue:  You can view the ad here. The City of Peterborough initially refused to run the ad, but in Feb 2016 reversed its decision due to a lawsuit threat by the anti-choice group CCBR (“Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform”). Despite this, the CCBR obtained a court order forcing the city to run the ad. Meanwhile, other jurisdictions in Canada refused to run the ad and several went to court. At least two are still fighting CCBR lawsuits, but the City of Grande Prairie emerged victorious on Dec 22, in a strong decision by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.

The court ruled that the CCBR’s free speech rights were outweighed by the harm the ad would cause to Grande Prairie’s ability to “maintain a safe and viable community”. Further, the court said the ad would likely cause psychological distress to women who have had an abortion or may be considering one, as well as children and other transit and road users. The Court also agreed with the City’s argument that the ad contravened Section 14 of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards against “Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals,” which says ads must not demean, denigrate, or disparage identifiable persons or groups of persons. The CCBR ad implied that women were murderers. The judge was sympathetic to Grande Prairie’s argument that the ad incited hatred against women, and found that the CCBR website vilified women. In fact, every argument made by the CCBR was refuted and dismissed by the court.


Twitter

@CityPTBO


Sample tweets: 

@CityPTBO Cancel offensive anti-choice bus ad now! Alberta court says it violates Advert.Code,  demeans women. #prochoice #NoHateOnBuses

@CityPTBO #Peterborough: Refuse anti-abortion ad nixed by Alberta court. #NoHateOnBuses #prochoice #cdnpoli goo.gl/nnQOtl


Sample Letters

You can copy and paste one of the following sample letters into an email to the City. (Contact information below.) If you have time, it’s better to write your own letter, or at least modify our letter to add personal comments, such as how the ad would negatively affect you as, for example: a woman who’s had an abortion or might need one, parent of young children, transgender person, transit rider, user of the road, etc. 


#1 - Sample Letter from residents of Peterborough

 

Dear Mayor Bennett and City Councillors,


I strongly object to the City’s acceptance of an anti-choice ad to be placed on the rear of our transit buses. I’ve seen pictures of this ad in the Examiner and find it highly objectionable and demeaning to women. It says: “
Abortion kills children. End the killing” – so this ad is characterizing women as killers and murderers.

 

Also, what about the distress this ad might cause for young children and their parents?  I object to the City interfering with the private right of parents to introduce their kids to difficult topics only when they are ready. Another thing I find particularly distasteful is that by accepting payment for this ad, my City government would profit from inflicting harm and hatred onto its own citizens, myself included.

 

The City of Grande Prairie in Alberta has successfully defended itself in court over this same ad. They argued it could incite hatred against women and that it violates the Advertising Code. The court agreed.

 

Please, refuse this offensive ad!  I never want to see it polluting our streets.

 

Thank you very much,

 

[add your name]


#2 - Sample Letter from people who don't live in Peterborough

 

Dear Mayor Bennett and City Councilors,

I strongly object to the City of Peterborough’s acceptance of an anti-choice ad to be placed on the rear of its transit buses. I find this ad highly objectionable and demeaning to women. It says: “Abortion kills children. End the killing”. Women are not killers and murderers!


The City of Grande Prairie in Alberta has successfully defended itself in court over this same ad. They argued it could incite hatred against women and that it violates the Advertising Code. The court agreed and said it could cause psychological harm to women who've had abortions, and inflict emotional distress on children
.

 

I never want to see this ad on buses in my own city, but I worry that if Peterborough runs the ads, it will make it more difficult for other cities to refuse these ads. By cancelling this ad and not allowing it to run, the City of Peterborough would set a leading example for other cities in Canada, and also provide strong support to jurisdictions currently being sued over refusal of the same ad.

 

Thank you very much,

 

[add your name]


Contact Information

Phone:
City Hall, Toll-free: 1-855-738-3755

TTY: 705-742-7585

Mayor Daryl Bennett (705) 742-7777 x1870

Transit Operations: 705-742-7777 x 2894

Transit Customer Service: 705-745-0525

 

Email:

To send one email to everyone (Mayor, City Councillors, Legal Dept., Transit Operations), copy and paste the addresses exactly as below into your ‘To’ line:

 

dbennett@peterborough.ca; lparnell@peterborough.ca; dmcwilliams@peterborough.ca; hclarke@peterborough.ca; dvassiliadis@peterborough.ca; dpappas@peterborough.ca; dtherrien@peterborough.ca; kriel@peterborough.ca; gbaldwin@peterborough.ca; arbeamer@peterborough.ca; dhaacke@peterborough.ca; legal@peterborough.ca; transitoperations@peterborough.ca

 

Or send individual emails if you prefer: 

Mayor:

Daryl Bennett:             dbennett@peterborough.ca

 

Legal Department:     legal@peterborough.ca  

 

Transit Operations:    transitoperations@peterborough.ca

 

City Councillors:

Lesley Parnell:             lparnell@peterborough.ca

Dan McWilliams:        dmcwilliams@peterborough.ca

Henry Clarke:              hclarke@peterborough.ca

Don Vassiliadis:           dvassiliadis@peterborough.ca  

Dean Pappas:              dpappas@peterborough.ca

Diane Therrien:          dtherrien@peterborough.ca

Keith Riel:                    kriel@peterborough.ca   

Gary Baldwin:             gbaldwin@peterborough.ca

Andrew Beamer:        arbeamer@peterborough.ca

Dave Haacke:              dhaacke@peterborough.ca