02 Nov 2020 Settlement with London Transit brings anti-abortion ads back to buses
“Canada has no abortion laws” proved to be a very controversial statement when we ran it on billboards in 2018. Abortion activists were quick to coordinate complaints to Advertising Standards Canada, a non-governmental advisory body for Canadian advertisers. In response, Ad Standards issued a report that our ads were “misleading and inaccurate” despite being “literally true.” While our billboards ran their course before the decision was finalized, this nonsensical decision did impact other groups hoping to use the ads.
In London, ON, a local group called ARPA Oxford purchased ads on city buses using the same message. The ads were pulled mid-contract when the London Transit Commission was advised by Ad Standards to do so. This unjust decision needed challenging.
We are thankful to announce that a legal settlement has now been reached with the London Transit Commission, and the bus ads are back in operation for 45 days!
Unexpectedly, these ads go back up on buses at exactly the same time that the city is facing conflict over pro-life flyers featuring abortion victim photography that have been distributed by the Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR). Those seeing the flyers may now also see our message, and be confronted with the truth that those discarded, mutilated pre-born children have absolutely no legal protection in Canada.
The re-running of these bus ads is a win-win situation. The pro-life movement is able to use their freedom to express their beliefs in London, and the city of London proves itself to be a place that does not shut down discussion on contentious issues, but respects the Charter guarantee of freedom of pro-life expression. The majority of Canadians still believe we have some law restricting abortion, at least in the later stages of pregnancy. Many Canadians support the status quo without knowing what they are actually supporting. We need to move past ignorance and apathy to understanding and emotion. The truth of these ads, that Canada has no abortion law, is fundamental to discussions around abortion in Canada.
This victory is also a reminder to continue to make use of the freedoms we have here in Canada. We have a Charter protected right to freedom of expression, and we need to keep insisting that pro-life expression be included in that freedom. We don’t know how much freedom we have until we use it, and we don’t know how long that freedom will last if we don’t commit to using it.
We live in a time when a lot of hard conversations need to happen. The conversation around when human rights begin is one of those issues that needs to be heard from all perspectives. It is our hope that all Canadians will continue to engage with the ongoing conversation about abortion.