You won’t believe it.
Not only has the campaign by a Toronto-based organization to place ads promoting atheism on TTC vehicles been approved, but the group raised the necessary funds to do so in only one week.
According to Katie Kish, Vice President – Multimedia of the Freethought Association of Canada (FAC), it was almost a match made in heaven when they got in contact with Chris Hammond, founder of atheistbus.ca.
“The Freethought Association of Canada wanted to get on board with the campaign,” she said. “Chris Hammond approached us saying he had a website and we already had the charity status, so it worked out really well.”
After raising over $21,000 in the first week and breaking the $30,000 mark within two weeks, the FAC has made it so that transit riders will soon be able to read signs purporting “There’s probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
“We’re pretty excited,” Kish said. “Now we can focus on actually getting ads on the buses.”
Initially, there will be one large ad on the side of one bus, then after a couple weeks another 100 to 150 ads will be placed in subway cars. Once signs are put in place on streetcars, the ambitious campaign is planning on moving to Calgary then to Halifax a few months later.
Though it is a moral victory for the atheists, there are those who are opposed to the display of such ads. A poll by CP24 News found 54 per cent of people regard the ads as offensive.
TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone said the only advertisements they disallow are for automobiles or anything which provincial and national laws already prohibit, such as tobacco products.
“We carry anything that doesn’t contradict the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” he said. “We would be in contravention of the charter and would be discriminating if they weren’t approved.”
While the ads are expected to draw some negative feedback, Janet Feasby, Vice President, Standards of Advertising Standards Canada, isn’t sure if it will affect their placement on public transit.
“(We) have little doubt about complaints coming in regarding their ads,” she said. “I would expect we get complaints … but I have no opinion on how we would handle them.”
As for how long the ads will be running, Kish says it all depends on if the donations continue to come in. And while cost may become an issue in the future, the atheist campaign has faith in its donors’ willingness to continue giving to the cause.
“Depending on fluctuating production costs, an ad in the subway will run for about $80 a month,” she said. “We have some people who have promised to donate $100 each month.”