Atheist Ads on the Horizon in Halifax

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’,┬á 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 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

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.

Author: Chris

2 thoughts on “Atheist Ads on the Horizon in Halifax”

  1. I’m feeling kind of conflicted. Vancouver’s transit system is a privately owned business… They should therefore have every right to deny whichever ads they want, and to run whichever ads they want, no matter how bigoted it might make them look. If they were a public operation, however, that would be a different story.

    On the other hand, I’d be delighted to see the ads on our buses and Skytrains!

  2. Actually, Wendy, the SCC found that the municipal transit system in Vancouver *was* a public operation. BC Transit is actually created by statute and controlled by the provincial government. Translink, while run in the fashion of a “private” company, is under the day-to-day control of the Greater Vancouver Regional District and the provincial government, and the vast majority of its board members are government appointees. If it were a truly “private” company, though–like Greyhound or something–then I would agree with you.

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