On April 4, 2017, two buses in the Canadian city of Peterborough, Alberta, were fitted with pro-life ads from the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform (CCBR). A transit worker refused to drive the bus she was assigned to that afternoon because it featured the pro-life ad. She went home and did not receive payment for the shift. She has since filed a grievance through the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1320.
“Her assigned bus featured anti-abortion ads which she found offensive, discriminated against her and poisoned her workplace,” states the grievance according to The Peterborough Examiner. She wants to receive payment for the shift, which would have been overtime.
While the driver says she was sent home without pay, Wayne Jackson, the city’s public works director, said the driver chose not to work the shift of her own free will.
The City of Peterborough initially fought to keep the pro-life ads off of buses. However, CCBR filed a Charter of Rights complaint against the city for refusing to allow the ads. According to the CCBR, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2009 that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects political advertising on public modes of transportation.
“The City of Peterborough violated our Charter rights, plain and simple,” said Nicholas McLeod, legal coordinator for CCBR. “Speaking about abortion does not negate our right to free speech.”
The city relented and decided to allow the ads which began running on April 4, 2017.
However, in the city of Grande Prairie in Alberta, a judge upheld the city’s decision to ban the same pro-life ads from its buses. The Edmonton Journal (hat tip to HarmsReport.com) states that on December 22, 2016, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice C.S. Anderson claimed that the ads could create an unwelcome environment and supported Grande Prairie’s decision:
I find the city’s decision to reject this particular ad was reasonable. I find the ad is likely to cause psychological harm to women who have had an abortion or who are considering an abortion. It is also likely to cause fear and confusion among children who may not fully understand what the ad is trying to express … (This ad may cause emotional reactions that could) create a hostile and uncomfortable environment.
However, what is reasonable is to argue that it isn’t the ads that the create the uncomfortable environment, but rather the truth that they expose. Abortion ends human lives and many people don’t want to face that fact. Some women who have had abortions suffer greatly from depression and are at an increased risk of alcohol abuse and suicide. Pro-life advertisements do not cause the suffering; it is abortion itself that is responsible for women’s grief and pain. Hiding from and burying the truth will never change that. But pro-life ads can help save lives and help other women avoid the tragedy of post-abortion trauma.