Saturday, July 11, 2009

Political ads can run on public transit, says Supreme Court

Ottawa has had our fair share of transit-related advertising issues in the last short while; from the controversial Atheist Bus Campaign to Virgin Radio's 'Gods of Rock' advertisements, it's been a somewhat touchy subject. And it's come up again, although this time it's a Supreme Court decision on moves to block political advertising from two British Columbia transit utilities.

Long story short, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink) and British Columbia Transit (BC Transit) rejected a couple of ads based on concerns to offend riders who, according to the agencies, are "captive" to the messages presented in advertisements.

From The Globe and Mail:
An intervenor in the case – the B.C. Civil Liberties Association –
argued that political advertising lies at the heart of the Charter section that
protects freedom of expression.

“In a world where advertising is ubiquitous and appears in public spaces of every description ranging from billboards on private buildings to web pages of private search engines, every citizen has learned to distinguish between the message and the owner of the location where the message is delivered,” the BCCLA argued.

Surprisingly for a city as political as Ottawa, I don't personally recall much in the way of political advertising on OC Transpo buses. Do any readers remember specific instances of political advertisements in general, particularly those that were controversial?

What are your thoughts on the positions of the B.C. transit agencies, and the decision handed down by the Canadian Supreme Court?