October 21, 2021
For immediate release
Ottawa, ON – Hamilton Area ARPA, a volunteer-run group that promotes grassroots political engagement, had their women’s rights ad rejected by the city of Hamilton because it included women at the earliest stages of life. The ad read, “We’re for women’s rights” and included pictures of women ranging from a child to an adult with the caption “Hers.” It also included an ultrasound scan of a child in utero with the caption “And hers.”
It was this last caption that the city of Hamilton took issue with, and it is in response to this that Hamilton Area ARPA filed a Notice of Application with the court earlier this month. Representatives for the city claimed, “the phrase ‘And Hers.’ would need to be revised so as to not reflect personhood in relation to the image on the far right.”
“The city’s sole issue with the ad was the reference to the baby in the womb as a ‘her’,” explained Tabitha Ewert, legal counsel for We Need a Law. We Need a Law, which designed the ad, is a national pro-life campaign advocating for human rights for all human beings. “This is a surprising decision by the city given the widespread practice of referring to children by their pronouns before their birth, as seen, for example, in the popularity of gender reveals.”
“It’s also concerning,” said Ewert, “that this decision does not take into consideration Hamilton Area ARPA’s Charter protected freedom of expression. The ad expresses ARPA Hamilton’s position on an important social and political topic and should therefore be protected by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” The ad, which included the URL for defendgirls.com, was meant to correspond with Parliament’s debate of Bill C-233, the Sex Selective Abortion Act. The city’s rejection of the ad meant this bill moved through Parliament with less public awareness and dialogue than it could have had.
“The purpose of rejecting the Advertisement, was, further, to suppress a moral, philosophical, and political viewpoint with which the City disagreed. The decision serves merely to enforce ideological conformity to the City’s moral and political opinion, or to majority opinion, or to [Ad Standards’ opinion],” the Notice of Application explains.
“The city doesn’t want us to refer to a child in utero as a ‘her’ because they don’t want us to imply that the pre-born child is a person. But that is the crux of the pro-life position: that all human beings are persons worthy of protection. In Canada, we have the freedom to express our viewpoints, including the pro-life viewpoint, and we are optimistic that the court will protect that freedom in this case,” said Ewert.
Hamilton Area ARPA is joined in this legal action by the affiliated non-profit organization the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada. They are represented by lawyer John Sikkema of the Acacia Group. Tabitha Ewert is legal counsel for ARPA Canada’s We Need a Law campaign. Hamilton Area ARPA and ARPA Canada are currently waiting for the city of Hamilton’s response to their court application.
For further comment please contact
Tabitha Ewert (EDT) at 1-866-410-9625 // [email protected]