Alex Cullen’s motion for 11 March

Notice of Motion (to March 11/09 Council)

Moved by Councillor Alex Cullen, seconded by Councillor Jacques Legendre

Whereas the Free Thought Association of Canada is running an advertisement campaign on public transit buses that states “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying And Enjoy Your Life”;

Whereas these ads are running on buses in Toronto, London and Calgary, but have been rejected by OC Transpo based on their interpretation of their policy that this message “might be deemed prejudicial to other religious groups or offensive to users of the transit system”;

Whereas the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;”

Whereas these fundamental freedoms can be “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” (Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms);

Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada, in interpreting the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has ruled that a public transit company, city or municipality cannot impose a blanket ban on religious (or political) advertising (Canadian Federation of Students vs. Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority);

Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada, in interpreting the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has ruled that no individual has a right not to be offended, in particular: “The key is that people will disagree about important issues, and such disagreement, where it does not imperil community living, must be capable of being accommodated at the core of a modern pluralism. People are free to disagree with our beliefs as they wish.” (Chamberlain vs. Surrey School District No. 36);

Whereas the Canadian Human Rights Commission has stated: “The essence of the concept of the freedom of religion is: the right to declare religious beliefs openly and without fear of hindrance or reprisal; and the right to manifest religious belief by worship and practice or by teaching and dissemination.

Whereas the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, in Section 14 – Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals, states: “It is recognized that advertisements may be distasteful without necessarily conflicting with the provisions of this Clause (14); and the fact that a particular product or service may be offensive to some people is not sufficient grounds for objecting to an advertisement for that product or service.”

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that OC Transpo be directed to accept the ads proposed by the Free Thought Association of Canada (subject to the usual charges).

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