On the afternoon of May 15, a group of protesters were reportedly seen impeding traffic and holding signs with anti-abortion imagery. The protestors were in the area of Guelph Line and Harvester Road in Burlington.
According to Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward’s website, many residents were contacting her office and Burlington City Hall concerned about the protestors.
The Halton Police went to the area to investigate.
“The Halton Regional Police Service is aware of at least one recent resident complaint regarding public protesters in the City of Burlington holding large signs depicting graphic anti-abortion imagery. We recognize that these images are offensive to many,” said the police in a reply to Marianne Meed Ward’s office members.
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According to the police, the signs do not violate any section of the Criminal Code. They further explain that even though the signs were very graphic, they do not qualify as hate literature under the code. To be deemed as hate literature, the content would have to be directed to a specific race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protect groups, like the protestors, under the freedom of speech laws.
“The Halton Regional Police Service has encountered similar scenarios when anti-abortion groups conduct public protests outside local high schools and display graphic photos on placards,” said the police.