City councillors Jeff Leiper, Shawn Menard and Catherine McKenney have demanded that the city remove Action Life’s advertisements from OC Transpo buses. They have made allegations that our advertisement is misleading because we are not a pregnancy counselling agency and direct women to a helpline number. We respond that it is not misleading in any way.
Action Life Ottawa is an educational pro-life organization founded in 1971. We have never presented ourselves as a pregnancy support centre or counselling service. For this very reason, we do not direct individuals who need pregnancy support to our office number – instead we direct them to a number that can address those needs. The helpline number shown in our advertisement is one that we have used for many years in various materials and advertisements. This national helpline number originates from the Crisis Pregnancy Centre of Winnipeg and is answered 24 hours a day. The Crisis Pregnancy Centre of Winnipeg has a list of 70 centres where women can get help.
Action Life wants to inform women that pregnancy support centres exist in Canada. We believe that women have a right to this information. And we direct them where to find it.
Our website provides a listing of local help agencies as well as the national helpline number.
Our advertisement is neither misleading nor inaccurate. It does not contravene any law or advertising standards. Help is available at the number shown in our advertisement.
We have used this helpline number in three previous OC Transpo bus campaigns beginning in 2016. The first campaign drew some media attention, complaints from abortion advocates and support from others in the city.
The same helpline number was listed on a sidewalk kiosk advertisement on Bank street from 1994 to 2007 for a full twelve months of every year.
Any woman who feels vulnerable under any circumstance should know there is help available. Members of city council should support the right of all women to have access to every support system available to them.
So members of city council should fully support the right of women to have access to this helpline number rather than attempting to have our advertisements removed from OC Transpo buses
The councillors sent an inquiry on April 10th to the General Manager of the Transportation Services Department. It says : “Advertisements for Action Life have recently been purchased on OC Transpo buses that invite pregnant women to ‘call for help’. It has been asserted that Action Life is not a pregnancy counselling agency. The Canadian Advertising Standards do not allow for misleading advertising. ” They then ask that “staff provide a current status of the law on such advertising, including any Charter arguments and explain what options and/or processes may be available to OC Transpo and the City with respect to any concerns raised by these ads.”
Here’s our ad. Our message reads: 1969-2019 : More than 4 million abortions in Canada.
Pregnant? Need help? Call 1-800-665-0570.
Our advertisement campaigns always garner opposition and support. Those who oppose our pro-life message often seek to have our advertisements removed from whatever media we use, be it radio, television, buses or bus shelters.
City councillors should not censor pro-life advertisements. A pattern has emerged where first, objections were raised to Campaign life’s March for Life flag flying atop city hall two years ago. Secondly, this year councillor Menard objected to a citizen having a seat on the city’s transit commission because of his pro-life views and now they want to remove our advertisements from city buses.
Any Canadian who respects freedom of speech should be concerned about these developments.