Brand New Atheist Bus Campaign hits B.C.

Posted by Justin on December 2nd, 2010

 

The 2010 Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign running in British Columbia is a project of Centre for Inquiry Canada which promotes and advances reason, science, secularism and freedom of inquiry in all areas of human endeavour. Click HERE to donate directly to this campaign in BC. Your donation will have a direct impact on how long and on how many buses this campaign will be run.

Centre for Inquiry Canada has also launched a nation-wide campaign entitled Extraordinary Claims featuring bus ads, educational events and online discussions. It challenges well-known and widely believed claims by demanding evidence as extraordinary as the claims themselves.

CFI Canada Launches New Campaign

Posted by Justin on December 2nd, 2010

The Centre for Inquiry Canada‘s Extraordinary Claims Campaign will feature bus ads, educational events and online discussions to challenge well-known and widely believed claims by demanding evidence as extraordinary as the claims themselves.

Why is belief in Bigfoot dismissed as delusional while belief in Allah and Christ is respected and revered? All of these claims are equally extraordinary and demand critical examination.
At CFI Canada we challenge ideas and ask tough questions to promote reason, science, secularism and freedom of inquiry.
Pending adequate financial support from individuals like yourself, we intend to run the two ads featured on this page on public transit:

Join or Donate to the Extraordinary Claims Campaign!

Contact us at ecc@cficanada.ca

Event: Humanist Association of Ottawa Discusses Activism and Atheist Ads This Friday!

Posted by Chris on October 13th, 2009

The Humanist Association of Ottawa will be hosting a discussion with David Burton, an atheist ad campaign worker and HAO board member, on humanist activism, the atheist bus campaign, a supreme court decision, and the significance of all three to Humanists. If you’re in the Ottawa area this Friday at 7:30pm, please join HAO for this event. Details below.

Topic: Humanist Activism, The “Atheist Bus Ad” Campaign, Supreme Court Decision, their significance to nonbelievers, Humanists and the HAO.

Speaker: Humanist Dave “B”,  Member of the Ottawa Civil Liberties Committee

Time: Friday, October 16 @ 7:30pm

Location: Jean Talon Building, Tunney’s Pasture, North on Holland Ave. past Scott St., Building No.# 170.

Humanist Association of Ottawa Meeting
Topic: Humanist Activism, The “Atheist Bus Ad” Campaign, Supreme Court Decision, their significance to nonbelievers, Humanists and the HAO….
Speaker: Humanist Dave “B”
Member of the Ottawa Civil Liberties Committee
Time: Friday, October 16 @ 7:30pm
Location: Jean Talon Building, Tunney’s Pasture, North on Holland Ave. past Scott St., Building No.# 170….Humanist Association of Ottawa Meeting

Topic: Humanist Activism, The “Atheist Bus Ad” Campaign, Supreme Court Decision, their significance to nonbelievers, Humanists and the HAO….

Speaker: Humanist Dave “B”
Member of the Ottawa Civil Liberties Committee

Time: Friday, October 16 @ 7:30pm

Location: Jean Talon Building, Tunney’s Pasture, North on Holland Ave. past Scott St., Building No.# 170….

Greenpeace: There’s Probably No Cod

Posted by Chris on August 13th, 2009
Greenpeace signs in Halifax and Ottawa warn of dangerously low cod levels in the atlantic.

Greenpeace signs in Halifax and Ottawa warn of dangerously low cod levels in the atlantic.

I came across this interesting advertisement through a friend on facebook. Greenpeace is out to remind us that Atlantic cod levels are running so low that they are at risk of irreversible damage. Continued fishing might possibly wipe out the entire species. Not only is this problem with cod, but many other sealife species around the world.

The curious part of the advertisement is that Greenpeace has mimicked our atheist ad style to try and garner more attention.  What a great idea. They have purchased four weeks of advertising time on buses and a billboard in Halifax, and one billboard in Ottawa.

For more reading and information about the Atlantic cod crisis, please visit Greenpeace’s website here. To do your part of ensuring you are not eating endangered sea life, take a look at the seafood market redlist Greenpeace has produced.

Kevin Kindred on Maritime Morning in Halifax

Posted by Chris on July 14th, 2009

Kevin Kindred, spokesperson in Halifax for the Atheist Bus Campaign, was asked to participate in a discussion this morning about our atheist ads on Maritime Morning (News 95.7 in Halifax). Click the following link to listen to the discussion http://filesocial.com/1aedlsu.

Great job Kevin.

Atheist Ads on the Horizon in Halifax

Posted by Chris on July 10th, 2009

A few months ago, you may recall that our ad was rejected by Metro Transit in Halifax due to its supposed controversial nature. You may also recall that a case was put forward under the Supreme Court of Canada with regards to British Columbia transit officials refusing to carry political messages on the side of their buses, and that this would be a guiding case for our atheist ads.

British Columbia transit officials were on the wrong side of the Charter when they refused to carry messages on the sides of their buses aimed at provincial voters, the country’s top court said today.

The Supreme Court of Canada struck down transit policies banning all political ads, saying they violate rights to free speech.

“Like a city street, a city bus is a public place where individuals can openly interact with each other and their surroundings,” wrote Justice Marie Deschamps in the 8-0 ruling.

All nine judges heard the case in March 2008 but Justice Michel Bastarache has since retired.

“I do not see any aspect of the location that suggests that expression within it would undermine the values underlying free expression,” Deschamps wrote. “On the contrary, the space allows for expression by a broad range of speakers to a large public audience.

“I therefore conclude that the side of a bus is a location where expressive activity is protected by … the Charter.”

The judgment was being watched by cities across Canada that have so far rejected atheist bus banners declaring: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

The ruling protecting political ads will be viewed as a boon to those hoping to buy bus space for their atheist message. (To continue reading, click here) – Toronto Star

This is great news for free speech but also great news for our atheist ad. Metro transit informed us months ago that they would revise their policy on advertising what some may deem ‘controversial’,  if the courts ruled in favour of the Canadian Federation of Students. We are hopeful that Metro Transit will make good on their stated intentions and reconsider our proposed advertisements with as little additional delay as possible.

More news to be posted as it becomes available, in the mean time you can sign up on our discussion board and start talking with other atheists at http://atheistdiscussion.com. Atheist Discussion began with the Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign and is now the home discussion board for both the Canadian and also Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign.

*UPDATE* - July 11, 2:30pm. It appears that Metro Transit will accept our ad according to TheChronicalHerold.ca

A Supreme Court of Canada decision on freedom of speech in bus advertising means Metro Transit will run atheist ads from a national organization.

[...] “Yes, when they apply, they can . . . purchase the ads.” [said Lori Patterson] (Full article, click here)

On Monday we will be applying. Stay tuned for more details.

More Pictures from Ottawa

Posted by Chris on April 27th, 2009

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The Humansit Association of Ottawa has done a phenominal job in trying to bring the Atheist Bus Campaign to Ottawa. They have fought hard, worked hard, and spent a lot of time trying to reverse the decision made by OC Transpo. I am proud to have worked with such dedicated humanists and atheists and I recommend that if you live in Ottawa and are looking for a community of atheists, take a look at their website and get in contact with them http://ottawa.humanists.net.

Here are some photos of the HAO with one of the 24 OC Transpo buses our ad is on:

On a side note, paypal has suspended our donation account so please hang on to your money until we sort it out.

Atheist Bus In Other Countries

Posted by Chris on April 20th, 2009

Below are a few videos from other atheist bus campaigns around the world. The first from the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign, who have very kindly linked to our discussion board as a place to discuss atheism. Check out their cool video below and also their website – http://inatheistbus.org.

Atheist Bus in Spain:

This video below is from a British comedy called “Have I Got News For You”. The episode aired last fall.

The next is from a show called University Challenge:

More to come soon.

Recap of Atheist Ads in Ottawa

Posted by Chris on April 16th, 2009

ATHEIST BUS ADS IN OTTAWA
By Julie Breeze (Director, Humanist Association of Ottawa)

The Humanist Association of Ottawa has been working to bring ads to Ottawa buses saying: THERE’S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE.

We are part of an international movement which began in Britain last June. A woman named Ariane Sherine went to a website advertised on a London bus and read that non-Christians will“spend all eternity in torment in hell. Jesus spoke about this as a lake of fire which was prepared for the devil and all his angels.”

Disgusted, she decided to counter with an ad of her own. She teamed up with Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, and the British Humanist Association, and set the goal of raising £5500 (about $10,000 Canadian) for their own counter-ads. Dawkins pledged to match all donations up to £5500. They settled on the slogan THERE’S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE. “Ours is a fun and light-hearted message,” said Sherine, “but it does have a serious point to it: that atheists want a secular country. We want a secular school (system) and a secular government.”

In spite of there being no plan or funding for soliciting donations, the money flooded in. The original fundraising target was met within twenty-four hours. Today the total raised in Britain is in excess of £140,000, which is being used to put bus ads in twenty cities across the nation.

The idea is spreading rapidly around the world. At the time of writing, groups of Freethinkers have placed ads in Canada, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and the USA. Groups are working on ads in Germany, Australia, Finland, Switzerland, and Croatia.

Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal accepted and ran the atheist ads. Halifax’s Metro Transit initially rejected the PROBABLY NO GOD ads on the basis that they were offensive, though they said they would reconsider Humanist Canada’s YOU CAN BE GOOD WITHOUT GOD if they “toned down the message” (!)  Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna BC, and London, ON do not accept religious advertising on their buses, and so rejected atheist advertising also.

Halifax transit officials announced they will be forced to reconsider their decision once the Supreme Court hands down a verdict in a pending related case. The Canadian Federation of Students and BC Teachers’ Federation are currently appealing BC TransLink’s decision not to allow their political advertising on Vancouver public transit on the grounds that this violates their right to freedom of expression. Given that BC TransLink is a public rather than a private company, and is thus obliged to follow public standards concerning freedom of speech, their success seems likely, and is expected to have a great impact on other Canadian cities’ decisions of whether to allow atheist bus ads.
In Genoa, Italy, the Catholic Church forced atheists to change their slogan from The bad news is that God doesn’t exist. The good news is that we don’t need him to The good news is that there are millions of atheists in Italy. The best news is that they believe in freedom of expression.

In Australia not only was the  “probably no god” message refused, but even Celebrate reason: Sleep in on Sunday mornings and Atheism – Celebrate reason were turned down by the largest outdoor ad company in the country.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation in the United States came up with very creative ads, including

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The atheist bus ads have become such a household word that the United Church of Canada has started running their own ad.

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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

People have opened their wallets to the campaign because they feel it gives a public voice to their point of view, in a way never seen before. It gives them a sense of solidarity with other atheists. They derive satisfaction from giving confidence to other nonbelievers and doubters who may feel bound by a need to appease religious family and friends.

The Humanist Association of Ottawa teamed up with the Freethought Association of Canada and atheistbus.ca to put Sherine’s ads on Ottawa buses. We were told that the Transit Committee had rejected our ads, but Pattision, the company which places advertising on the buses, offered us a discounted rate on roadside billboard ads instead. We thought about the billboards but decided to stick with our original application, since
OC Transpo had previously approved a number of Christian ads for the buses and we saw no reason why we should not receive equal treatment.

The HAO Board met on February 17th. Realizing that City councilor Alex Cullen, the Chair of the Transit Committee, had decided to ask the reason for OC Transpo’s rejection of our ads at a Transit Committee meeting the following day, it became clear through discussion that we should go to City Hall right before the meeting to make our opinion known.

The HAO put out a press release that night to every English-language media outlet in the Ottawa area. We contacted as many members as we could reach at the last minute. Seanna Watson (HAO President) spent most of the night making T shirts saying “Why not in Ottawa?” with our ad slogan. We didn’t think we’d be allowed to carry signs in City Hall, but we were pretty sure clothing was permitted (or even required).

In spite of the short notice, four of us were able to make it the next morning. We stood somewhat nervously in front of the door to the meeting room, not sure what would happen. There had been no time to apply for a permit or ask about rules. We didn’t know if we were allowed to be there, if we would be asked to leave, or if we were even at risk of being arrested.

And then the first cameraman showed up. We put blue tape over our mouths and waited. He came up and began photographing us. Then more people arrived. One asked us tentatively “Would you speak to us?”

I have never been too free with identifying myself as an atheist, for fear of the silent discrimination in our society. People almost never ask my religion, and if they do ask what they really want to know is whether I am part of their own particular denomination. I tell them I’m a Humanist.

That day we were surrounded by microphones, still cameras, and TV cameras. Everybody wanted to know our names and why we were there. It was just like a movie scene of a media scrum. I felt like after a lifetime of keeping my toes dry I was suddenly standing on the edge of the high diving board.

I took a deep breath and jumped in.

That day we were all over the news. I heard we were on CBC radio at noon, even before the vote had been taken at the meeting. We were on the television news, the radio, and in every one of the five daily English and French newspapers in the Ottawa area. The publicity was phenomenal!

Once the reporters had had the chance to interview and photograph us to their hearts’ content, we learned that we were allowed to attend the Transit Committee meeting. Alex Cullen even came over and told showed us the form we should fill out if we wished to have up to five minutes to address the Committee.

It took most of the day to get to the bus ad issue, with the journalists coming up to us periodically to take more photos or ask more questions. When the matter came up, Alain Mercier, the Manager of OC Transpo, waffled around a bit, ultimately giving several reasons for his staff’s decision to reject the ads. He said that the policy stated that religious advertising was unacceptable unless it advertised a specific event, with a date and time listed. (Nothing wrong with that policy, except that OC Transpo had previously accepted ads from the Anglican Church, the Pentecostal Church, and Bus Stop Bible Studies, none of which listed specific events, times, and places.) He said that they felt that our ad could be offensive to Transit riders, and that they had wanted to avoid controversy. Oops.

David Burton (another HAO director) addressed the Transit Committee, making a wonderful case for why we should be allowed to run the ads. Then another member of the public, Teresa Milligan, took a turn to speak. She stated that atheists should never be allowed to run ads, since the Stalinist Soviet Union was atheistic and they had committed
terrible atrocities, killing millions of people. Atheists are therefore dangerous people who should not be allowed to air their views.

When I heard that I knew that we could never let these ideas go unchallenged. Even though I had not planned to speak, and had not prepared any remarks, I quickly grabbed a “Request to Speak” form and scribbled in the required information as fast as I could before Milligan finished her five minutes of speaking time. A man appeared and took the form from my hand, and I was called to the microphone. I explained to the committee that Humanists never advocate or participate in violence of any kind, and that far more atrocities have been committed in the name of religion than in the name of Atheism. I cited the bombing of the World Trade Centre as one such example. One of the Guiding Principles of Humanism is that we advocate the peaceful resolution of conflicts. (I later discovered that Stalin’s evil was in fact committed in the name of Communism
rather than Atheism.)

The six councilors present at the meeting discussed the ads for a while prior to the vote on overturning the ban, with Cullen calling the ads censorship and a denial of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ guarantee of freedom of speech. Councilor Marianne Wilkinson stated that she found the ad offensive to her as a Christian.  ‘It grates on me,’ she whined. They voted 3-3, not enough to overturn the ban, so Cullen said that he would bring the matter to a full City Council meeting on March 11.

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This time we had a chance to be much better prepared. Seanna added a back to the T-shirts which listed all 15 cities around the world where atheist bus ads were already running, along the lines of a rock concert tour, with Ottawa? at the bottom. We got together two dozen people from as far away as Bowmanville for a protest at the start of the meeting on March 11, and had lots more press coverage. There was a group of children who had been bussed in from a Christian school to protest our ads.

A new member of HAO, Paul LeClair, had written a song about the bus ads titled “Freedom of Expression”. He played it for the press, and then went outside to serenade the Christian schoolchildren with it.

At the meeting we learned that Alex Cullen had asked the City’s legal team to analyze the City’s chances of upholding their ban of our ads should we decide to take the matter to court. They released a six-page document giving all the reasons and precedents why the City hadn’t a hope of winning any such lawsuit. The City lawyer estimated the cost to the city of such a battle at about $10,000 – 20,000.

Marianne Wilkinson and her cronies on the council had another try at banning the ads, wanting to rewrite the city’s policy so as to exclude them. They had no particular plan of how they could word such a policy, given the legal opinion that it couldn’t be done, but their move would at least postpone the ads’ debut. Mayor Larry O’Brien spoke about the inter-faith council which he chairs, and said that everybody on the council felt that the ads should be allowed to run. In spite of this, he later voted to uphold the ban.

Alain Mercier was on the hot seat again, and was forced to admit that had he known that the ban would never stand up to a court challenge he would not have suggested it in the first place. At this point there were about fifteen of us sitting together in the public seats. Even though the public is not allowed to speak at full city council meetings, we were quite noticeable in our white T shirts, and the councilors were clearly aware of our presence, referring to us several times during the debate. At one point Cullen mentioned that the city “hadn’t a prayer” of winning a legal challenge, and the councilor beside him
gestured towards us chuckling in the audience, commenting “They got it!”

Whether due to personal convictions that it was the right thing to do, or from distaste at the idea of  wasting city money on an unwinnable legal battle, the Council voted 13-7 in favour of running our ads. The ads have been running on Ottawa buses since 7 April.

You can read more about the worldwide atheist bus campaign in the Summer edition of HumanistPerspectives, expected to be published in June.

Atheist bus campaign rolls into Ottawa (Media Release)

Posted by Justin on April 14th, 2009

As you probably know we’ve had a rollercoaster ride in the nation’s capital, being refused access to buses by the Ottawa transit, then having that challenged to the Ottawa transit committee which ended in a split vote meaning the original decision was sustained.  But this was then further challenged by Ottawa city councillor Alex Cullen to the Ottawa city council where it was overturned.  To make a long story short, our ads went up on Ottawa buses last week, accompanied by the following media release:

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     Contact:
416-402-8856 (Justin Trottier)

613-592-3609 (Seanna Watson)
Web site: http://atheistbus.ca

Atheist bus campaign rolls into Ottawa

Toronto, ON. (April 13, 2009)―There’s probably no god.  Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.   The atheist ads are now up on buses in Ottawa.

“The campaign has overcome a few hurdles,” said Justin Trottier, President of the Freethought Association.  “A long bus drivers’ strike followed by refusal by OC Transpo and city of Ottawa Transit committee.” In March, those decisions were overturned by a vote of Ottawa City Council.

These ads are an invitation to begin dialogue, discussion, and demonstrate the principles of freedom of expression and religion that apply equally to non-believers and people of all faiths.

Visit the Campaign at http://atheistbus.ca for more information.

The Humanist Association of Ottawa (http://ottawa.humanists.net/) has been promoting secular humanism in the nation’s capital for over 40 years.


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