Yesterday we official received word from Sherry Kirwin, General Manager of Pattison Maritimes, that our banner is too “controversial” for Halifax Metro Transit.
“We are aware of your message due to the existing media coverage you are experiencing. We are not able to accept your message as it currently reads.
If you would like to submit an alternative message, we will submit that for approval.
If any potential ad message is deemed to be possibly controversial, we must advise the transit system. They rarely refuse creative content, however have advised us that in this particular case, your message has already stirred up enough media exposure across the country to be deemed controversial.
All advertisements must meet acceptable community standards of good taste , quality and appearance . Furthermore, the ads will not be considered discriminatory, or objectionable to any race creed or moral standard“, explained Ms. Kirwin.
Metro Transit needs to understand the seriousness of the message they’re sending by rejecting an ad as benign as ours on the grounds that it doesn’t conform to their standards of “good taste, quality, and appearance.” Metro Transit has a history of running ads that are potentially objectionable, from Vagina Monologue ads that include the slogan “The Vaginas are coming” to ads for an anti-choice organization known as “Birthright.”
We’re very concerned about our right to free speech — I think a lot of Haligonians are expressing similar concerns, so we’re really eager to sit down and discuss this face to face with Metro Transit.
*Update* Today during an interview, Lori Patterson of Halifax Transit Public Affairs mentioned “[…]this groups ads were known to be or were already viewed to be inflammatory or controversial before they reached this market.” When asked why it would be viewed as “inflammatory” and mentioning that the ads and atheism certainly represents a significant part of the population, she replied stating “it could be viewed as inflammatory to a certain group in population and that is certainly what we’re hearing. We have to recognize that this is an older area of the country and people still have, you know, traditional views. […] All the calls we’ve been getting have been against us running them.”
“Anything considered to be objectionable to any race, creed, or moral standard, you know, we have the right to.. or we can refuse. And I’ve not heard of.. You know, we haven’t been approached by religious groups to my knowledge before.”
I encourage everyone that supports this campaign to call Ms. Patterson and Halifax Metro Transit and let them know what you think. Ask her if she thinks that the people of Halifax are not capable of making their own decisions and coming to their own conclusions about advertisements. Ask her if she has forgotten about our national anthem and charter of rights. Not only are we supposed to be the “true north, strong and free“, but our Canadian Charter of Rights under section 2) guarantee’s “b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; “. Canada is known around the world to be a country of religious (or in this case non-religious) freedoms. Does Halifax really want to be labeled as the city that doesn’t allow alternative views?
Halifax Regional Municipality
200 Ilsley Ave
Dartmouth N.S., B3B 1V1
Public Affairs, Transit Services
|Mayor Peter Kelly
1841 Argyle Street
P.O. Box 1749
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3J 3A5
,  CBC Radio One – Halifax
 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/
Join the Halifax Atheist Bus Campaign group. This group is an extension of the Official Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign.