An online petition started by local representatives to stop anti-abortion material using graphic images has more than 2,000 signatures so far.
The recent anti-abortion campaign carried out by the Calgary-based pro-life group, Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBER), has residents in East York and around the city concerned over who might come across the images, including children who may be left traumatized.
The petition was started by MPP Peter Tabuns, councillors Paula Fletcher and Mary Fragedakis, and TDSB trustee Jennifer Story was sent to Ontario’s Attorney General in August.
“Our concern is to protect children and adults who would be traumatized by distribution or display of these images,” the petition said.
A meeting in early September in Riverside gave an opportunity to local residents and others affected by the anti-abortion campaign to discuss their concerns, some of which included harassment, women’s rights issues, and the fine difference between free speech and hate speech.
Beaches-East York MPP Arthur Potts said in an interview the anti-abortion campaign is “offensive” and a “failed attempted by [CCBER] to influence people.”
Potts said the campaign is doing more harm to their cause than good. “There’s no role that the government can play to stop them. There’s a free speech argument here. It’s important that people know that [anti-abortion flyers and posters] are around and hide them from their kids.”
Potts also spoke about how the residents of East York have dealt with the campaign and how they will continue to do so.
“I think it’s important that the community has come up and said we don’t like this, keep your trash off our front lawn or front door. And I hope that they get the message, whatever campaign they thought they were helping, it’s not working.”