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TransLink must reconsider anti-abortion bus ads, court rules

TransLink must reconsider its previous decision to reject advertising space for an anti-abortion group, B.C.’s highest court has ruled.

The ads in question originated in 2015, created by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, depicting a fetus at seven weeks, again at 16 weeks, and then a red circle with the word “gone.” Text beside the graphics read, “Abortion Kills Children.”

At the time, the transit authority turned down the ads – a decision upheld in B.C. Supreme Court last year.

But on Tuesday, the B.C. Court of Appeal said TransLink failed to give a good enough explanation for denying the advertiser space.

Justice David Frankel wrote in the unanimous decision that TransLink didn’t acknowledge the group’s right to freedom of expression, “let alone explain how the denial represents a proportionate balance with TransLink’s objectives.”

While the court determined the transit authority does not have to accept the ads, the group can submit an ad-space request for “reconsideration.”

This isn’t the first time the pro-life group’s ads ended up in court.

In Alberta, the City of Grande Prairie’s refusal in 2016 to allow the group to post its ads on public buses was upheld by that province’s appeal court. The city had said buses are taxpayer-funded and the ads “would be disturbing to people within our community,” according to court documents.


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ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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