Apparently Lori Patterson has taken to sending out a form letter statement essentially repeating the very things at which people are pissed off. Mayor Kelly has washed his hands of the whole thing and is forwarding her letter. I have this letter and my response below.
I have advised everyone that we have a process through which our contracted agency books ads. If any potential ad message is deemed to be possibly controversial, they advise the transit system. The message which was submitted by Humanist Canada and was turned down was “You Can be good without God. (They are free to submit another message). We are a public transit system first, and sell advertising secondly. As a municipal service, we will turn down anything which we know will be too controversial or upsetting to taxpayers. This campaign was already known to be controversial in Britain.
It states in our contract that the contractor agrees that the advertising which is placed on the buses and at the Ferry Terminals will meet acceptable community standards of good taste , quality and appearance . Furthermore, the contractor agrees that the ads will not be considered discriminatory, or objectionable to any race creed or moral standard.
Manager Public Affairs
With all due respect, Lori (and considering your recent behaviour, that is not very much), it is your prejudiced policy that is in fact under debate in the first place.
Furthermore, several ad companies (ex: England, Toronto) in several countries (ex: US, UK, Brazil, and CANADA) clearly do not consider this “too controversial” to have the ad be seen. These cities clearly understand that is is more important to see a message you might not like, than not to be allowed to see it at all. You are using the few examples of prejudice in other cities to justify your bigotry and short-sightedness regarding running the ads in Halifax.
The fact that these essentially harmless ads constitute a controversy in Halifax, merely serves to emphasize the need for the campaign. Atheist and non-religious groups should not be silenced by a company exhibiting the same bigotry and hatred that leads people to complain about differing views than their own before the ads even appear.
Please do not continue to contribute to the same attitude that makes atheist and agnostics feel hated and alone enough to take these ads out in the first place. There is no reason why atheists stating their beliefs should be considered not in “good taste” unless there is a prejudiced attitude against this view. Further, the statement “You can be good without God” does not discriminate to race, creed, or moral standard unless you consider that view to be inherently morally wrong by your own standards. The discrimination is clear, Lori, and it’s not from the ads.
So you have a choice, Lori, to send your form letter absolving you of any responsibility because of your company’s rigid “policy” of prejudice, or you can stand up as a Canadian citizen and respect people’s right to free speech and free press according to our human rights charter. I you don’t, there may come a time when you have a message that some with loud voices don’t like, and you will be silenced as this group is now.