Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ottawa Bus

So, we won on the Ottawa Atheist Bus, with a council vote of 13 to 7, and the council legal advisor stated that if they voted no, then they'd probably loose in a law case. Great....

Councillors voting as follows:

YES:
Clive Doucet, Christine Leadman, Peter Hume, Diane Holmes, Jan Harder, Michel Bellemare, Peggy Feltmate, Steve Desroches, Jacques Legendre, Georges B├ędard, Gord Hunter, Shad Qadri and Alex Cullen.

NO:
Marianne Wilkinson, Bob Monette, Rainer Bloess, Eli El-Chantiry, Doug Thompson, Rob Jellett and Mayor Larry O'Brien.

The problem is, we shouldn't have had to win. We shouldn't have had to write to the councillors and ask many of them to reconsider their viewpoint. We shouldn't have had to point out how the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression, belief, and of media communication.

We shouldn't have had to convince elected councillors that free speech is a good and necessary part of any true democracy. That 7 still voted no, including Mayor Larry O'Brien himself, is sad indeed. Doug Thompson told me it was on legal advice he voted no in the transport committee review that went 3:3 opening up the full council debate on the subject. If he voted on legal advice the first time, why did he not vote for the ads on legal advice?

Shad Qadri started thinking "no" to the ads, but I had a good email conversation with him, pointing out the issues. He voted yes for the actual motion.

Gord Hunter was going to vote "no" on the grounds that the claims on the Atheist ad could not be proven. But he voted for free speech.

Steve Desroches thought the ads were intentionally offensive. He voted for free speech.

Rob Jellet didn't think the ads were in good taste. He voted against them.

Marrianne Wilkinson says she strong proponent of free speech. She says the ads are against policy, but conveniently forgets all the religious ads that are also against said policy that they have put on busses. So, in the end, she's not for free speech.

There's a hypocrisy in being democratically elected, and then not voting free speech. Free speech is as part of democracy as voting itself.

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