The Atheist Bus Campaign held a rally in the Parade Square yesterday, protesting against what they called a silencing of free speech.
About two dozen demonstrators stood in front of city hall with their mouths duct-taped shut, holding a banner reading, “There’s probably no God, so stop worrying and enjoy yourself.”
Justin Trottier, president of the Freethought Association of Canada, said the slogan was not an attack on religious people.
“This campaign has turned into one that deals with free expression,” Trottier said. “We are fighting for everybody’s right to a neutral public playing field where all beliefs and all values can be discussed.”
Asked why they didn’t just rent a billboard, he said the campaign focused on buses because they are publicly funded organizations.
“A lot of transit commissions make up policies which may or may not be illegal. These blanket policies against ideological ads may be groundless.”
He noted the Supreme Court is set to rule on a related case in B.C., where Vancouver transit banned political ads.
David Harrison, founder of the Canada-wide Bus Stop Bible Studies, said he believed his group had been cleared to advertise in Halifax and hoped both his ads and the atheist ads would run.
“The atheists have just as much right to state their beliefs.
“I ask the question, ‘Would God be offended by it?’ Hurt and disappointed, maybe, but offended? I don’t think so,” he said.
Metro Transit spokeswoman Lori Patterson reiterated the company’s policy against ads that are “objectionable” to some residents.