A few days ago, I posted about this ad seen on a Halifax, Nova Scotia bus:
But weren’t religious ads banned? Wasn’t an atheist group rejected for their own ad campaign? Isn’t the transit authority breaking its own rules?
Lori Patterson of the Metro Transit responded to reader Dorothy yesterday. (***Edit***: I spoke with a staffer for the advertising agency and they gave me more background on the story. Her version corroborated Ms. Patterson’s.)
Here’s what she wrote:
This will follow up with regards to a number of letters received over the past few days with respect to Metro Transit’s current advertising policy. The letters were generated as a result of a recent bus advertising campaign for Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Much of the information people outlined in their correspondence was erroneous or out of date. As numerous e-mails have been received over a short period of time, this appears to be an organized campaign. The clarification detailed below should alleviate any further concerns.
Until 2009, Metro Transit had an advertising policy practiced by its advertising agency of record and similar to many other transit systems, where advertising space was not sold for advertisements which were considered to be controversial in nature. This was the practice followed primarily out of concern for bus operator and passenger safety.
As recently referenced in your e-mails, Metro Transit did originally decline a request several years ago to allow ads from the Free Thought Association of Canada to appear on their buses.
However, in July, 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada came down with a ruling in British Columbia that struck down B.C. Transit’s policy that refused to sell ad space for political ads, ruling that this violated rights to free speech. In light of this decision, Metro Transit’s policy was reviewed, and was changed to remove the restriction on controversial ads. Other transit systems across the country also changed their policies and are no longer declining ads based on the fact that they may be viewed to be controversial in nature. This also includes advertisements of a political or religious nature.
In answer to another question posed, the Free Thought Association was advised of this decision in July 2009, by Metro Transit’s agency of record, Pattison Outdoor. The client eventually elected not to proceed with their campaign. Any others wishing to follow up for the purpose of purchasing bus advertising campaigns may do so by contacting the local office of Pattison Outdoor.
Due to the volume of e-mails, I will not be responding more than once to each query.
Halifax Regional Municipality
It sounds like a perfectly reasonable response. Is there anything to be concerned about?