Secular Ontario

September 26, 2014 16:50 ET

Secular Ontario: Freedom of Expression Denied

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Sept. 26, 2014) - A private citizen in Ontario, Dr Richard Thain, a member of Secular Ontario and a supporter of Civil Rights in Public Education, placed an order with Pattison Outdoor Advertising for the creation of six different ads to run on fifty buses in Winnipeg in order to raise public awareness of a human rights issue in Ontario and Alberta. The timing of the ads was intended to coincide with the launch of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

The ads focus on the publicly-funded Catholic school system in Ontario. They express the opinion that Ontario should establish a single publicly-funded school system with French and English boards, open to all, and abolish public funding of a separate system which gives one religious faith group preferential treatment over all other citizens.

One ad, for example, points out that the UN Human Rights Committee found Canada/Ontario guilty of religious discrimination in the way Ontario funds its two publicly-funded school systems.

Mr Randy Otto, president of Pattison Outdoor officially informed Thain's lawyer, Dan Mayo on September 23, 2014 that they have decided not to accept the ads.

"We would point out to you that the terms and conditions of our agreement with Dr Thain, which he acknowledged and agreed to abide when he signed our media contract, gives Pattison Outdoor Advertising the sole right to run creative 'which in our opinion' violates Canadian Advertising Foundation guidelines."

Pattison Outdoor considers 'this matter closed.'

Otto did not identify which words or phrases Pattison Outdoor considers to be in violation of `The Canadian Ad Standards.' Thain's lawyer says the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards is a private-sector set of rules which must comply with the Canadian Constitution and Human Rights Act.

When Pattison Outdoor asked Dr. Thain last week to submit ads with different wording, Thain refused. He wants to maintain his right to freedom of expression on this important political and human rights issue:

"It is ironic that at the same time as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is opening in Winnipeg, Pattison Outdoor is denying my right to free expression," Richard Thain pointed out. "This right is enshrined in The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

Copies of the wording for the six proposed ads are available to the media.

The following people and groups share a concern regarding the discriminatory public funding of religious schools and agree that it is time to establish a single, secular publicly-funded school system with French and English boards.

Leonard Baak: (613) 805 0940

Renton Patterson: Civil Rights in Public Education (613) 735 5069

Malcolm Buchanan: a past President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) and former General Secretary of the OSSTF (289) 439 0157 email

Leonard Baak: (613) 805 0940

Renton Patterson: Civil Rights in Public Education (613) 735 5069

Luke Fevin: APUPIL (Albertan Parents for Unbiased Public Inclusive Learning) (780) 700 4007

Patrick Morrow: Winnipeg MN Humanist Atheists Agnostics of Manitoba (HAAM) 204 612 0601

Eric Adriaans: Toronto ON, Centre for Inquiry Canada (226) 374 0612

Eric Thomas: Humanist Canada, President (613 242 5060)

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